Today’s well-groomed dog has ears that are cleaned on a regular basis.  A visual inspection can help assess the health of your dog’s ears and spot any possible infections that may be brewing.  Wiping clean the external ear is just one part of a thorough ear cleaning.  It is important that the ear cleaning solution that you choose to use is allowed to fill the ear canal to safely clean the areas you cannot reach. Keep in mind that just like our ears, our dog’s ears are fragile and need to be treated with a gentle touch.


Be prepared for a mess when cleaning your dog’s ears.  It is instinctual for a  dog to shake their head to remove the solution from their ears. So wear appropriate clothing and tackle the job in an area of your home that can easily be cleaned up afterwards.

The key to good cleaning  is the massage that you apply when the cleaning  solution is inside the ear. This encourages the solution to go deeper into the ear canal  to ensure that the complete ear gets clean.


Dogs that have low hanging ear flaps or dogs that have a lot of hair around their ears may be more of a challenge in keeping the ears clean and infection free.  It may take more than one application of the cleaning solution for the dog with long flaps and you may find it beneficial to trim the hair around the ears of hairy dogs to make it easier to clean.


Lastly, you never  want to use safety swabs, or “Q-tips” on your dog’s ears.  Puncturing the  eardrum and causing permanent damage or hearing loss is a risk that you do not want to take. While it is safe to use a Q-tips on the folds of the outer ear, for safety’s sake, it is best not to get in the habit of using them at all.


How To Clean a Dog’s Ears


Cleaning your dog’s ears is not a difficult task if you keep in mind that your dog will probably not want you anywhere nears his ears. This is especially true if your dog’s ears are itchy, red or have not been cleaned in a while. Have treats available to encourage your dog’s cooperation and to reward him for a job well done.


Ear Cleaning Steps

  1. Holding onto the dog’s ear flap with one hand, fill the ear canal with cleaning solution with your other hand
  2. Hold the ear flap over the opening of the ear while massaging the base of the ear to allow the solution to work – the longer that you do this the better
  3. Stand back and let your dog shake his head back and forth
  4. Use a clean cotton ball to wipe out all the folds of the outer ear.


Another simple way to clean the ear is to soak a cotton ball in the ear cleaning solution and place the cotton ball in the dog’s ear. Hold the ear closed by holding down the ear flap and massage the base of the ear with the cotton ball inside. When done, remove the cotton ball and let the dog shake its head.  You can then clean the exterior part of the ear with a clean cotton ball moistened with solution.


There are many good commercial products available to use to clean your dog’s ears. You may wish to consult with your veterinarian for a product that is suitable for your dog. You may also purchase products at any of the pet warehouses or from Amazon. There are perfectly good cleaners that you may make at home that  are safe and effective.  I have included  the recipes for a few of these.

Homemade Solutions

Before I share some simple recipes to make your own ear cleaning solution, I would like to mention my favorite, coconut oil. If you read my previous post,  https://safeforyourpet.com/is-coconut-oil-good-for-dogs-what-you-dont-know-may-surprise-you, you know that I am a big fan of coconut oil. It is a favorite in my home and I buy it in gallon containers. Using an  eyedropper, place a few drops of oil that have melted to a liquid form in your dog’s ears a few times a day. It is sure to ward off any infection that may be brewing, it is very soothing for your dog and the ears have that wonderful coconut smell.

Solution # 1hand-spray-bottle


1 tsp Olive Oi
1 cup Distilled Water
5 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil

Mix in a spray bottle and shake before use. Just spray in the dog’s ears and wipe clean


Solution # 2


2/3  part warm water to 1 part vinegar or 1/2 cup warm water to 1/3 cup vinegar

This is a good solution to use with the method of saturating the cotton balls and leaving them in the ear while you massage your dog.

Dip cotton balls into the solution and apply to outer ear and wipe clean


Solution  # 3


1 part vinegar with 1 part rubbing alcohol

Mix and pour into dogs ear.  Cover the ear opening while massaging the base of the ear and let the dog shake it’s head when done. This recipe works well on floppy eared dogs that are prone to ear infections.

Solution # 4


1 part white vinegardropper

1 part rubbing alcohol

1 part water

Apply with an eye  dropper and massage. Use cotton balls to wipe and dry the ear. This recipe is also good for dogs prone to infections.

8 comments on “How To Clean A Dog’s Ears – The Secret’s Out

  • Hi,

    This is good to know. I’ve actually used Q-tips to clean my dogs ears before and my wife does it on a regular basis. I never thought of the fact that it’s possible to puncture the ear drum but that makes sense.

    I’m fairly certain that my dogs ears are not punctured and that her hearing is still great but I’ll definitely be more careful in the future and I’ll probably start using cotton swabs instead on your recommendation.

    Thanks a lot.


    • Hi Robert,

      Thanks for you comments about Q-tips. I am guilty of having used them on my Beagle as she is one of those dogs that I mention in my post, one with long ear flaps. I thought using them was helping me do a more thorough cleaning. After my research though, I don’t use them anymore. The funny thing about Q-tips is that they are advertised as the product that we need to clean our ears too. Yet any doctor will caution against using them due to the chance out puncturing our eardrums or pushing the debris and earwax further into the ear canal.



  • Keeping a clean canine is obviously of paramount importance. And keeping the ears can certainly be a challenge at times. As you say, your dog will probably want nothing at all with you coming close to their ears.

    But your dogs ears can get infected so it might become necessary to clean out their ears. A good solution approved by your vet definitely helps.

    • Hi Mike,

      If your dogs ears get infected, a trip to the veterinarian is important. You want to male sure that you know what you are dealing with and that you have the right product for the job. My point in this post is that keeping your dogs ears clean in the first place is a good preventative practice. Clean ears are much less likely to become infected and require that trip to the vet.

      Take Care,


  • Great article! We’ve love had labrador retrievers but their ears are a challenge to get clean! I did find that once I put the solution in, our black lab loved it when I would massage his ear. He would lay next to me and purr. Sometimes I think his ears were itchy so me massaging his ear felt like I was scratching the itch. Love the idea of coconut oil – we are between dogs right now but will have to remember that when we bring home our next doggie family member!

    • Hi Teresa, thanks for you great comments. Dogs tend to love the massaging, it’s just the solution going in that upsets them! Keep the coconut oil in mind – bet your next dog will absolutely love you for it!

  • This is great information. I like that I can make my own solution. I have one dog with long ears, and he is prone to ear infections. Last time I took him to the vet I had to buy two different prescriptions to get his ears cleaned out and get rid of the infection. I think this would be a great way to prevent that in the future and keep him happy.

    • Hi Matt’s Mom, I have a Beagle and she too is prone to ear infections. My vet also prescribed 2 products and that can be hard for your dog to handle when they have ears that are irritated and painful. If your dogs ears are like that, I would try the recipe that has the olive oil and the tea tree oil or coconut oil since the oils would sooth his ears.

      Take Care,


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