How to Properly Clean a Dog’s Ear
By: Dr. Clayton Greenway, B.Sc., DVM | Apr 5, 2017
Dr. Clayton Greenway explains and demonstrates how to properly clean a dog’s ears. Other topics covered in this video include ear cleansers, ear infection, removing wax, ear canal, cotton swabs, resistant recurrent infections, husbandry, bacteria, yeast and ear medication.
HCFP would like to extend our thanks to the Toronto Humane Society and staff for allowing us to film our videos on site. To learn more about the programs and services offered by the Toronto Humane Society, or to view their adoptable animals please visit: www.torontohumanesociety.com
I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com and we’re going to talk about how to clean a dog’s ear. First what you want to think about is the anatomy of the ear. The canal is very deep and it bends in towards the head, almost like an L-shape. You’ve got to remember that the debris and the stuff you’re trying to get out, is way down at the bottom of it so the way we clean the ear is we actually fill that whole column of the ear canal with an ear cleanser and then we start to massage it and by massaging it, will break up that material down at the bottom of the canal and it will float up to the top of that column of fluid where we can then pull it out. The way we pull it out at the top is by using cotton balls that I’ve unraveled and I can put them right on my finger and as I push down into the canal and wipe outwards, it will form to my finger and I’ll push my finger in pretty much as far as it can go. You don’t want to use Q-tips and push them down into the canal because you don’t want to risk damaging the eardrum by putting the Q-tip too far down.
So what I want to do first is I want to pull the ear upwards a little bit and have a really good grip on the flap of the ear. The first thing the dog is going to want to do when we pour some ear cleanser into the canal is it’s going to want to shake its head. By holding on to the ear fairly tightly, you’ll be able to prevent that. Now you’ve got to have a little bit of a hardened heart and a strong will to do an ear cleaning, particularly if your dog is going to fight you. You’d want to have somebody else to hold the dog. If you’re doing it alone, you could try putting the dog’s bum into the corner of a room so it can’t back up from you because you’re dealing with things around its face.
So I’ll take my cleaner and if Popeye cooperates, I can pull the ear canal up and pour the cleaner in. So remember, you want to fill the ear canal with the cleaner and then I want to massage it. You’ve got to prepare to get a little bit messy because some of it will dribble out when you do this and if you massage it really well, you might hear that massage like sound. That means that you’re really breaking things up well down at the bottom of the canal. Notice where my fingers are, they’re not up near the top of the ear, they’re really into the head where the canal is and if you push deeply into the side of the head, you can actually feel the column of the ear canal.
So now I’ll take my cotton, I’ll put it over my finger and I’ll put it down into the canal as far as I can go, I’ll twist and pull it up and you should notice that the cotton comes out fairly dirty with wax on it. So it’s important to see that wax on the cotton, it means that you were able to break up the wax down in the canal and bring it up to the top and get it out of there. You want to continue to push cotton down and remove some of that wax until the cotton ball comes out clean.
Ear cleans are something that not all dogs need routinely. If you try a cleaning on your dog and you get wax out, that just tells you that the ear is dirty and it needs the occasional ear clean. You may find that you do this once a week, once every two weeks, once a month but you particularly need to do it when there is an ear infection. Even just good husbandry by cleaning, good cleaning of an ear infection, you can actually solve that ear infection yourself and if you pick up some medication from your veterinarian, you might be able to treat this at home without it ever becoming a problem but keep in mind that ear infections can become really complicated. They can become really stubborn, you can have recurrent ear infections over and over again so please view our video about treating ear infections in your dog or cat and good luck ear cleaning with your dog.
Disclaimer: healthcareforpets.com and its team of veterinarians and clinicians do not endorse any products, services, or recommended advice. All advice presented by our veterinarians, clinicians, tools, resources, etc is not meant to replace a regular physical exam and consultation with your primary veterinarian or other clinicians. We always encourage you to seek medical advice from your regular veterinarian.