Dogs and their ears are the irresistible duos. Their expressions, along with the movement of their ears, and their reactions are the complete package. The question is when is it Ok not to clean a dog's ears?

Incredibly, dogs’ ears have their cleaning mechanisms. The hair and follicles keep dirt and debris from entering the inner part of their ears.

The lining of the skin cells also plays a part in moving residues away from the eardrum.

One of their undeniably prominent features is their ears. As pet owners, the urge to keep their health and be pretty isn’t a surprise. Sadly, some dogs aren’t born with healthy pairs. 

Not all dogs are born with innate healthy ears, some are genetically compromised with inherited ear complications.

Remember that it is our responsibility as owners to keep our dog’s ears' health intact. Dog ear care is very important. 

Dog’s ear canal structure makes it quite difficult for dirt, buildup or discharge to be dislodged without our help.

But how can we help our fur buddies in maintaining their ear health or preventing ear health complications?

Recognizing when to clean their ears, knowing how to clean their ears, and consulting veterinarians for possible ear health problems are on the list. 

How to use dog cleaning solution for ears

How to Clean A Dog’s Ears?

Same with humans, dogs also need their bodily functions clean. Don’t we feel restless or distracted when our normal is disrupted? 

Of course, not all dogs are the same. Some dogs don’t need frequent cleaning with their ears and some needs it more.  Checking your dog’s ears every day can help reduce getting infections.

Tip, it’s best to introduce this grooming routine to your fur buddy at a young age.

If they learned that it’s not an unpleasant activity, they’re more likely to behave and cooperate with you during the procedure.

Now, how do we clean dog ears?

First, we have to determine if they need some cleaning done. If they have:

  • Pink
  • No Stains or No Dirt Found
  • No Buildup
  • Odorless
  • Not Inflammed
  • No Discharge

Overcleaning dog ears may risk inflaming or irritating the inner walls of the inner canal. Make sure to check their ears first if it needs necessary cleaning. 

It’s best to familiarize what a clean ear and dirty ear look and smell like. Asking your veterinarian can always help. If we see some buildup of wax in their ears or some dirt residue, we can clean their ears as a start.

As owners, we want our fur buddies to feel their best all the time. Ear infections can be stressful and painful for them. Fortunately, we can always reduce the risk of infections by cleaning their ears regularly.

Recommended tools to clean dog's ears

Veterinarians recommend a liquid cleaning solution when cleaning a dog’s ear thoroughly. Wipes are good for cleaning the outer part of the ears but a liquid ear cleaning solution can properly clean the ear canal.

Before purchasing, confirm the use of the ear solution of the product. Some products have drying purposes like astringent cleaners which are used after baths or swimming, some cleaners are alcohol or acidic based usually a  remedy for bacterial infections and some may be used for wax build-up only.

At your local pet stores or veterinarian clinics, dog cleaning solutions are available for purchase. Along with this, cotton balls, towels, and an optional treat or their favorite toy are needed. 

If you’re having your dog checked up, you can also ask your veterinarian what ear cleaning solution is recommended or best for your pet.

You can also ask the veterinarian to clean their ears to see how they do it. 

Here is the best way to clean your dog’s ear on your own.

dog ears

Step by Step Ways to Clean Dog’s Ears

  1. Have your dog play for a bit, just enough to have them feel a bit sleepy. This can help you and your dog to feel more relaxed with the procedure.
  2. Find an area where there is less distraction and cleaning can be done. It may be a little messy, so it’s best to be in a wide area. 
  3. Make sure you have clean hands. Wash and sanitize. Prepare the items needed to clean your dog’s ears: dog ear cleaning solution, cotton balls, towels, and an optional treat.
  4. Find a position where you’re both secured. Maybe sitting on the floor. Make sure you and your dog are comfortable. Don’t be nervous, your dog can sense the tension. If you’re tense, your dog’s mood can be affected and they might start getting anxious.
  5. Apply the dog ear cleaning solution. Spread it around the pinna and drop a fair amount in the ear canal. Massage for at least 30 seconds to a minute. 
  6. As you’re massaging, dirt and build-up may emerge. Using the towel, cover yourself from the dirt your dog may shake out. 
  7. After they flap their ears around, gently remove the residue from the pinna up to the ear canal. Use different and clean new cotton. Be careful when doing this, we want to avoid inflammation and irritation to prevent infection.
  8. Immediately stop if your dog seems to be in pain while doing so. Consult the veterinarian for further instruction.

Additional Tips to Clean A Dog's Ears

Keep the tip of the solution away from the ears to avoid contamination. Keep your hands and the tools clean and sanitized before, during, and after as well.

Needless to say, not all dogs may cooperate for their first ear cleaning routine. Setting aside treats or their favorite toys in case they resist can help you keep them distracted. 

It is also a huge help to hold their ears during their time with you. Either playtime, sleeping, or just doing absolutely nothing, holding, massaging, or caressing their ears.

As they get exposed to you holding their ears, they’re more likely to react less negatively or be resistant to the procedure.

Most importantly, you should also be comfortable. If you feel like you can’t do it alone, you can have the groomers or have it done in the clinic.

It’s okay, your intention to keep their health in shape is still recognized.

These steps can help your dog’s ear health along the way. Along with your veterinarian’s directions and your assistance. Their health is in good hands.

Keep track of their ears at least weekly and especially after they have emerged in the water.  Water residue in their ear canal can create an unwanted buildup that may cause infections.

Trimming the hair around the ears and inside the ears during humid seasons can also prevent infections.

But how often should I clean my dog’s ear? Some dogs may require a much more frequent cleaning than others. Normally once or twice a month is sufficient.

It’s also best to have their ears cleaned after a bath or swimming time. 

Remember to check their ears weekly for any complications. It’s better to have them checked up early and treated early than to face severe health consequences in the future. 

What Products Can Be Used To Clean A Dog's Ears

Using pointy tips or q-tips can greatly affect the walls in the ears so it is highly discouraged. Checking the ingredients of the cleaning solution is good too.

Such as some cleaning solutions contain tree oil, which some veterinarians have found to have adverse allergic reactions to some dogs. Hydrogen peroxide and witch hazel are also harmful ingredients found in some cleansers.

When Not To Clean A Dog’s Ears?

These flaps are adorable but are sensitive as well. 

Since some dogs are born with healthy pairs of ears, they’re unlikely to experience ear cleaning unless complications arise.

When complications arise, it’s best to leave the rest to your veterinarian. What we’re trying to avoid is the spreading of the infection or the diagnosis of the doctor.

Cautionary Signs My Dog’s Ears Has Infections

Some dogs have genetically inherited being prone to ear infections. Not necessarily just those who have health complications, some may have infections due to their ear shape and placement. 


Allergies can also be an indicator of infections. Some allergic reactions may irritate the walls or eustachian tube.


Bathing or swimming may even cause ear infections in dogs. Long exposure to water can make skin soft and moist. Water residue in-ear canals can be a new home for yeast and bacteria, especially since this area is moist and warm.

Excessive Hair

Excessive hair in the ears can also be a factor in infections. Hair can help buildup from entering the inner part of the ear but when excessive hair is present, the wax will more likely build up abnormally. Worse, it can contribute to moisture staying in the ears as well. 

Excessive Cleaning

Excessive Cleaning can also cause infection. When the wall linings are irritated and damaged, infections can occur. These wall linings are thin and sensitive. That’s why proper and mindful cleaning is extremely important.

Senior Dogs

Elderly dogs are prone to several complications. Sadly, ear infections aren't a stranger. Since in old age, normal bodily function, even in the ears, does not work as it should. The wax buildup may plug the ear canal and may cause pain and distress.

Ear Mite

The ear mite is a critical factor in ear infection, it can be fatal if not treated properly and on time. Not only is it contagious, but it spreads from the ear canal to the brain. A lapse in bodily function is presumable. 

Our dogs may give us signals when they feel uneasy with their ears. You may see them:

  • Discharge
  • Buildup
  • Foul Smell
  • Scratching their ears more than usual
  • Trying to grab their ears
  • In distress because of pain
  • Swollen ears
  • Reddish or Yellowish skin in the ears

How to clean dog ears at home

It’s best to have your dog checked by the veterinarian. Bear in mind, that not all these symptoms may be an ear infection.

They can also be symptoms of ear mites, allergies, fleas, or sinus-related infections. That’s why it’s best to have your veterinarian check their ears for a more thorough diagnosis of their health.

Remember, do not self-diagnose or self-treatment your dog. This can lead to greater risk with improper handling of their ear, underdosing or overdosing medication, infection spreading to others, and incurable or fatal complications to your dog’s health. 

Always consult with your veterinarian. Especially when encountering these complications.

After consulting with the veterinarian, they usually give instructions for treatments and a cleaning routine along with it. It’s important to follow the instructed frequency, process, and direction.

Following these can help your fur buddy get back into shape.

Usually, veterinarians require at least 30 minutes of cleaning before treatment or medication of the ears. Keep track of cleaning their ears while treatment is ongoing.

Dangers of Not Cleaning A Dog’s Ears

Cleaning your dog’s ears is important. Leaving it untreated or unclean can complicate their conditions.

It can affect their ear wall lining, ear canal, eardrum, and their auditory senses. Inflammation, damage, and bacteria are no joke, they can be contagious, disabling, and fatal. 

dog ears

When Not To Clean A Dog's Ears, Not For These Dog Breeds 

  • Basset Hounds
  • Beagle
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labradoodle
  • Newfoundland
  • Pit Bulls
  • Poodle
  • Spaniels
  • Crossbreeds

“Humans invented dog breeds with all sorts of extreme body shapes over a hundred years ago. But it is only now that we are fully realizing just how much these body shapes affect the health of these breeds..” – Dr. Dan O’Neill

Over the years, humans have been alongside dogs modifying their traits. Sadly our actions have consequences that greatly affect their lifestyle.

Improper breeding and illegal breeders have brought these creatures health complications that are irreversible.

Adopting dogs is a responsibility. We have to be accountable as owners. If you have a pet of the same breed, make sure they have their regular visits to the veterinary and groomers. Having their ears checked frequently avoids risking their health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do dog groomers clean dog ears?

There are packages in grooming that includes ear-cleaning as part of the groom. But yes, most professional groomers include inspection and cleaning of the ears.

Usually, they recommend a visit with the veterinarian first when they inspected a potential infection in the ears. 

What dog breeds needs plucking?

Dog breeds with large droopy ears, or long-haired ones. Spaniels, Maltese, Terriers, Labradoodles, and Spaniels are a few of the breeds with these features.

It is best to keep their hair short around the ears, especially during the humid season, to keep build-up and infection from occurring.

How much does it cost to get a dog's ears cleaned?

Basic grooming does not cost much, with cleaning supplies you have at home and a purchased dog ear cleanser, it can cost $20 – $50.

But ear infections are much more expensive, treatment costs may depend on the medicine used and duration of use. Usually, it can cost $100 to $175.

cleaning dog ears

When Not To Clean A Dog's Ears Summary

Remember, not all dogs are the same. That's why it's important to know when to clean a dog's ears. Some may require different treatments depending on their condition. Consulting your veterinarian is the key.

They may guide you and assist you on how to properly address any complications along the way. Keeping their ears clean and healthy is just a part of it. 

Always remember that dog ear care is important. As you meet eye-to-eye, keeping your fur-buddy away from potential infection or disease, then your buddy is in good hands.

As owners and pet butlers, our duty to keep our companion's health is a way of reciprocating their loyalty and love toward us. So in small to big ways, let’s extend our hands to their paws all the way!


Toby loves spending time with his dog and two cats. They are the best stress reliever and affectionate pets, especially his Belgian Malinois, Shawie. Shawie's favorite activity is running or jogging. But their go-to spot is to chill and swim around a nearby river.