clean & clear

dog with floppy ears how to clean their ears

At-home ear cleaning is not only vital to the successful treatment of ear infections, but it can also help ward off infections in pets who are prone to them. Some breeds — such as Spaniels and Labrador Retrievers — will need routine ear maintenance more often than others, depending on the amount of wax their ears produce.


While cleaning your pet’s ears may sound like a daunting task, here are some tips to make both you and your pet grin from ear to ear:

  • Use a mild cleaner recommended by your veterinarian.
  • Fill your pet’s ear canal with the solution and massage gently at the base of the ear for about a minute. Your pet will probably love this part — I’ve seen pets lean into the massage!
  • Let your pet shake her head, expelling most of the cleaning solution, along with some of the dirt and debris. Note: It is helpful to be outdoors or in an area of the house that is easily cleaned for this part!
  • Use a soft tissue or cotton balls to gently wipe the excess cleaning solution and debris out of the ear canal. Repeat with as many clean cotton balls as you need, until one wipes clean.


Never insert anything deeply into the ear canal. While you may see your veterinarian using cotton swabs to clean or dry the ear, don’t attempt this at home. You don’t want to risk perforating your pet’s ear drum.


If your pet is battling an active ear infection, clean your pet’s ears as often as directed by your veterinarian, and then apply any medication as prescribed.


To help clean ears stay healthy, be sure to keep them dry. Wet ears are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria and yeast, so always use a drying solution after your pet gets a bath or takes a dip in the water, especially if he has low-hanging ears that take a little longer to dry.


Most importantly, when touching your pet’s ears to dry or clean them, do it very gently. If it hurts, your pet will want to avoid ear cleaning, which won’t make cleaning sessions much fun for anyone. Everything about an ear cleaning should be gentle, from your touch to the cleaner you use.


If you think any part of your technique may be causing pain, stop! Consult your veterinarian for some helpful hints or ask for a hands-on demonstration next time you visit your vet clinic.