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How To Clean Your Dog's Ears: Tips and Tricks For The Best Ear Cleaning Experience

Updated on June 19, 2013

Materials For The Ear Cleaning Project

  1. Cotton Balls
  2. Gauze 4x4's
  3. Cotton swabs
  4. Hand towels
  5. Ear Cleaning Flush or Solution
  6. Designated space that's easy to clean (garage, bathroom, backyard)



Note: Equal parts rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and white vinegar in a squeeze bottle is a great DIY ear flush for any dogs' ears ( as long as NO infection is present).

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Step 1 - If You're Not Making A Mess, Your'e Not Doing It Right

Move to your designated easy-to-clean area with your ear cleaning materials. Make sure to have everything set up and ready to go before bringing in your dog (this is especially important if you are cleaning your pup's ears by yourself). I prefer to have way more of my supplies on hand than I could possibly need for 2 ears. That way, if there's a lot of gunk hiding deep down in the ear, I am so ready for it!

  • Start by having your dog in a comfortable position - sitting down or standing works best.

  • Looking at your dog's ear, gently lift the ear flap slightly backward until the inside of the ear is visible. Look for any redness, swelling, scratches, or bleeding before putting anything in the ear.

  • With the inside of the ear exposed, gently pull the ear upward while also moving the ear back toward the base of the skull (this exposes the ear canal in the best way possible).

    BE VERY GENTLE WITH THESE MOVEMENTS - ears are a very sensitive body part!

  • Squeeze the ear flush directly into the ear canal until the flush is dribbling back out of the ear. (Note: This is where your towels will come in handy. I usually end up with the ear cleaner all over my pants and the floor.)

  • Quickly fold the ear flap back down and massage the ear for 60 seconds. Make sure to massage all the way down to the where the ear meets the skull. Some dogs may make a groaning sound or may lean into your hand. This means it feels good!!

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Step 2 - Let Your Dog Shake His Head!!

The best way to get all the gunk out of the ears is to have your dog shake his head after flushing and massaging. The shaking motion actually brings the crud you can't see, up the canal, from its hiding place.

  • After a few good head shakes, take your gauze or cotton ball and wrap it around your finger. Place your finger inside the ear and carefully begin wiping around inside the ear and the canal.

  • Rotate your finger to better get into the nooks and crannies of the ear. Be careful to only place your finger in as far as it will go. DO NOT force your finger further into the ear - this can cause extreme discomfort to your dog!

  • Use the cotton swabs in the ear to really get the gunk out of hard to reach spots.


A dog's ear canal is shaped like an " L" therefore making it difficult to reach the eardrum with a cotton swab or your finger.

Step 3 - Rinse And Repeat

Once you have sufficiently cleaned out one ear, it's time to switch sides! Repeat the same steps for the second ear, making sure to let your dog shake his head again after flushing out the ear.

Tip: Sometimes I will add some ear cleaner to the gauze and cotton swabs to help the cleaning process along.


If, at any point, you see blood on the cotton ball, gauze, or cotton swab, STOP CLEANING. Continuing to clean the ear after seeing blood can cause your dog discomfort.

After cleaning your dog's ears, you MUST dry the ears out.

This is the most important step that most people will forget. If any liquid is sitting in the ear, it can cause an infection. Always take a dry piece of gauze or cotton ball and dry both ears after the entire cleaning process.

Feel free to leave any questions or comments! I have a few great tips and tricks that I've learned over the years and perfect every day at work!!

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