How Often Should I Clean My Dog’s Ears?

Many dog owners wonder how often they should clean their dog’s ears. Some don’t even know if they are allowed to do it on their own or just leave it to the vet. The short answer is, you can clean your dog’s ears on your own. And if you do, you should do it regularly.

But how often is regularly? There are a lot of factors to consider when determining when to clean your dog’s ears. We’ve put together this handy guide to let you know how often you should clean your dog’s ears and how you can clean them at home.

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dog clean ears

Why You Should Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Keeping your dog’s ears clean will help avoid infections from excessive wax buildup. Bacteria and yeast love to thrive on uncontrolled discharge and wax buildup. This can happen quickly as dogs have an L-shaped ear canal that tends to trap fluid. 

Aside from the risk of infection, not cleaning your dog’s ears could also cause hearing damage. One sign that your dog has gone deaf is when they don’t respond when you call them, bark when there’s a knock on the door, or run at the sound of their leash. They may also tilt their head to the side more often.

Even if your dog’s breed doesn’t make them prone to ear infections, it’s important to regularly clean their ears. 

Your aim when cleaning your dog’s ears should be to maintain a healthy amount of earwax by removing only the excess. By doing so, your dog’s ears can be lubricated, clean, and also less prone to infections. 

How Often You Should Clean Your Dog’s Ears

It’s hard to give an exact number as it really depends on your dog. There should be a balance between cleaning their ears regularly to avoid infections, and not cleaning them too frequently as it may cause irritation and damage.

You should be cleaning your dog’s ears anywhere from once a week to once a month, depending on your dog’s breed, health, and activity level. Your vet can give you a recommendation for how often you can do it, and even a quick lesson on doing it yourself.

A healthy amount of wax in your dog’s ears can help lubricate and protect the delicate skin of the canals from infection. Your goal isn’t to entirely get rid of the ear wax, but to keep it at a healthy amount by only cleaning them when they are starting to get dirty. 

Check the ears each time you bathe your pup or after a vigorous play session like a trip to the dog park to see if they need cleaning.

You can determine if your dog’s ears need good flushing by lifting the pinna, or the external part of the ear, and looking inside. If you see dirt, debris, and brown buildup aside from the wax, then it’s time to clean them.

If your dog has normal wax production, doesn’t often swim and get dirty, and has normal-sized ears that aren’t hairy, then monthly cleaning may be all you need to do.

Active Dogs

Dogs who love to swim and run through the dirt and the woods can have an increased risk of an ear infection because of the bacteria they are exposed to. When water becomes trapped in the ears, the usually harmless bacteria and yeast can cause problems that may require veterinary attention.

That said, athletic dogs should have their ears cleaned more often. You should also watch out for mites in your dog’s ears as these pests usually cause contagious ear infections.

Floppy-Eared Dogs

Breeds with floppy ears also need to get their ears cleaned more frequently. Some of them include Basset hounds, Beagles, Labradors, and Cocker Spaniels. If your dog’s ears are thick with hair, such as those of Afghan Hounds and Setters, you’ll need to exert extra effort. 

These dogs are more prone to ear infection because their long, hairy, and heavy ears hinder airflow and create a moist environment that may develop into bacteria or yeast.

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

The most important thing to consider when cleaning your dog’s ears is that they feel comfortable and pain-free throughout the whole process. Here’s a step-by-step guide on cleaning your dog’s ears.

  1. Start by gently touching their ears and stroking them to gauge how your dog will react. If they don’t seem to like their ears being touched, don’t force it! Never try to clean a dog’s ears if they’re stressed or struggling. If they feel okay with it, proceed to the next step,
  2. Check to see if your dog’s ears need cleaning. As previously mentioned, debris and brown buildup mean it’s time to clean them.
  3. Prepare your equipment – see below for details.
  4. Examine their ear for signs of infection. If you notice symptoms, it’s best to leave the process to a veterinarian.
  5. If your dog’s ears are merely dirty but not infected, start wiping around the entrance of the ear with damp cotton wool to remove dirt or excess wax. 
  6. Squeeze the bottle of ear cleaner in your dog’s ear canal. A good indication that you have applied the right amount is that the lining of the ear looks oily after application.
  7. Massage the base of the ear to help the cleaner pass into the ear canal.
  8. Wipe away any excess cleaner with towel
  9. Give your dog some treats to reward their good behavior after cleaning their ears.

What you need:

For a more detailed and visual instruction, here’s a video by Grooming by Rudy that could help you. 

Signs of Dog Ear Infection

Some dogs with ear infections show no symptom aside from the excessive wax buildup, but here are other clues that you should be aware of:

  • Head shaking
  • Scratching the affected ear
  • Odor
  • Redness of ear canal
  • Scabs in the ears.

If your dog is showing any of the common signs of ear infections, it’s important to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Keep Your Dog’s Lughole Clean!

By now, you probably already know how often you should clean your dog’s ears! If they have normal wax production with normal-sized ears and moderate activity level, once a month is enough! But if you have an athletic dog or a Basset hound, you’ll need to do it more frequently.

Start by creating a schedule for grooming your dog, and make sure to carefully follow our step-by-step guide on cleaning your dog’s ears.

Be sure to check their ears regularly and always be on the lookout for anything unusual. And if your pup gets an infection you can try out a home remedy for dog ear ache.