Is it safe to clean your dog’s ear at home? If done properly, it is! And actually, it is an important part of your dog’s grooming routine, especially if your dog has long and floppy ears.
In this article, we guide you on how to clean your dog’s ear at home, discuss the considerations of using homemade cleaners, and how to deal with ear infections.
How to Clean Your Dog Ears
- Hold your dog’s face and raise the ear flap.
- Apply an ear-cleaning solution, such as Zymox.
- Massage and squeeze the base of the ear to get the solution in, and move the wax out.
- Let your dog shake his head to let some of the liquid out.
- Use a gauze or cotton pad to clean and dry the external part of the ears.
🙅🏻♀️ Don't dig deep and don't use Q-tips as they can damage the inside of the ear or move objects and dirt against the eardrum.
Some dogs may have excess hair blocking the ear canal. In such cases, you will need to remove the ear hairs before doing any cleaning. If there is matted hair on the outside of the ear, first cut them using a machine. Next, apply some medicated ear powder and remove the remaining hair with the help of sterilized tweezers. Do it little by little and check for any signs of pain.
Best Homemade Ear Cleaner For Dogs
Olive Oil 🥇
Olive oil was the winning homemade cleaner. It does the work and is easy to use. It helps remove the excess of wax and debris.
Coconut oil works as olive oil, but you have to melt it first and allow it to cool down before applying. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Mineral oil is a common ingredient found in baby lotions, but for cleaning your dog’s ears you will need a scent-free version. It helps soften and loosen the ear wax similar to olive and coconut oils.
Considerations For Homemade Ear Cleaners
- Only use them for normal cleaning, not in infected or inflamed ears.
- Always consult with your vet before using any of them.
- Ask your vet about the frequency of ear cleaning to prevent complications.
- Once you have your vet’s approval, you can use any of these oils following the steps we described in the previous section “How to clean your dog’s ears”.
Avoid These Products
These products are not vet-approved because they will cause inflammation in the ear canal, damage healthy cells, and irritate the skin.
- Hydrogen peroxide.
- Boric Acid.
A Side Note on The Use of Vinegar
I found mixed information about whether it’s safe to use vinegar as a homemade ear-cleaning product or not. The first thing I found is that there isn’t an agreement on what are the right quantities of vinegar and water mix, with some recommending 1/3 of vinegar and 2/3 of water, while others suggesting a 50/50 mix.
The other thing is that there was a debate about what type of vinegar is the correct one— is it apple cider or white vinegar? And, I didn’t get an answer if it is safe to use the mix inside the ear canal or only externally (or if it is safe at all).
After doing a lot of research I am still confused, and will probably advise against it. I also read that it is very easy to get the wrong mixture and that will cause pH imbalances in your dog’s ears.
How to Treat an Ear Infection in Dogs
Ear infections are quite common among dogs with long and floppy ears. That is because there’s not enough circulation of fresh air, which creates a perfect environment for bacterial growth.
But any dog can develop an ear infection if you leave the wax or dirt to accumulate. That’s why ear cleaning is an important step in your dog’s grooming routine but since their ears are delicate you have to make sure to clean them properly.
Additionally, excessive bathing of your dog may increase the risk of ear infection because if water enters the ear canal will create moisture. So it is important to understand how to bathe your dog at home.
Signs of ear infection may include
- Changes in your dog’s behavior, such as pawing at his ear, shaking his head, or rubbing and scratching the ear.
- He may also cry or whine.
- The skin of the ear canal is red, swollen, and hot to the touch.
- Waxy yellow or reddish-brown discharge.
- Bad smell.
- Crusting in the ears
When to Visit The Vet?
Ear infections will require a visit to the vet. They can confirm the diagnosis and best treatment. They will clean the infected ear using a cleaning solution and may prescribe an antibiotic lotion to apply daily at home for a few days.
When ear infections are left untreated, they can cause severe pain, hematomas, balance problems, and even deafness. So don’t risk it.
How to Apply Medicated Ear Drops at Home?
- Hold your dog’s face and lift the ear flap.
- Place the nozzle of the drops at the opening of your dog’s ear and angle toward their nose.
- Squeeze the bottle once. You don’t have to count the drops.
- Massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds.
Follow your vet’s directions. Some cases may require more frequent applications or a longer treatment duration.
Ear cleaning is an essential part of your dog’s grooming routine because it prevents infections. But your vet should advise you on the frequency to avoid overdoing it. If you want to use any of the natural products included in this article get your vet’s approval first, and only use it as maintenance cleaning not to treat infections.
Whenever you are petting those cute ears, also take the time to look inside and confirm that they are not only cute but healthy.
You will be risking your dog’s wellness by not taking them to the vet if they have a real ear infection. These conditions can be easily treated by antibiotics, but if you let them progress or give the wrong type of antibiotic the infection will become very stubborn. The risks of untreated ear infections are severe pain, balance problems, and even deafness.
You can remove the excess of wax in the external part of the ear by using a piece of cotton or gauze. Do it gently to avoid damaging the skin. However, you will still need to do the monthly cleaning with a solution to get the wax and debris from the internal canal.
No! Baby wipes contain alcohol and perfume which will irritate your dog’s ears. Besides, the human pH is more acidic than dog’s, so even baby products are not dog-friendly.
- Discharge From a Dog’s Ear: Causes and Treatments
- O’Neill DG, Volk, A. V., Soares, T., Church, D. B., Brodbelt, D. C., & Pegram, C. (2021). Frequency and predisposing factors for canine otitis externa in the UK – a primary veterinary care epidemiological view. Canine Medicine and Genetics, 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/s40575-021-00106-1
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