Cleaning your pet’s ears is easy provided you know what you’re doing and you have the right tools. Let’s get started.


Examining Your Pet’s Ear


Get in the habit of looking at and into your pet’s ears on a regular basis.  Ears, otherwise known as pinna, should not be hot to the touch or swollen. Your pet should not be excessively shaking his or her head or scratch/pawing at the ears.  Both are signs that the ear is either itchy, irritated, or hurting. There should be no patches of hair loss or an increase in hair loss on the exterior of the ear.  On the interior side, the skin should be a a healthy coral color, but some darkly pigmented dogs also have dark colored skin inside their ears.  Redness is not normal, nor is any strong odor. Excessive dirt and wax build up can be common in dogs, but it should be removed by cleaning as it can lead to infection. As a rule, dogs with thicker, longer, and hairier ear flaps like Cocker Spaniels are more prone to infections than pets with shorter, less-hairy ears, like cats.  Bigger, hairier ear flaps tend to keep ear canals moist, warm and dark and provide bacteria an ideal place to grow.


Considerations Before Cleaning Your Pet’s Ears


If your pet has ears that appear to be infected or if your pet is excessively shaking his or her head or scratching, you should ask one of our veterinarians to examine your pet’s ears before cleaning. Ear infections, and the scratching that comes with it, can lead to damage to the eardrum that will be exacerbated by cleaning.


Pets will naturally be cautious the first time you attempt to clean their ears. Go slowly and speak reassuringly.


The Things You Need To Clean Your Pet’s Ears


To clean your pet’s ears effectively, you’ll need some cotton balls and a veterinary-approved ear cleaner. When you are finished cleaning your pet’s ears, he’ll shake his head and fling any remaining ear cleaning solution onto the walls and floor, so perform the cleaning outside or in a room that is easy to wipe down when you are through.

epi-otic ear cleaner

This is the cleaner that we use at Animal Medical. Clicking the photo will take you to our online store where you can purchase it for your pet.

Any cotton ball will do. Clicking this photo will allow you to browse options on Amazon.

How To Clean Your Pet’s Ears


Soak a cotton ball with the ear cleaning solution until it is soggy, and then take the cotton ball and place it in your pet’s ear.  Now, push your pet’s ear flap over the opening of the ear and slowly massage the soaked cotton ball inside the ear. The cotton ball should have enough ear cleaning solution in it so that it makes a squishing sound as you massage.  Usually pets enjoy this and will lean into the pressure of your hand. Continue to massage. This allows the cleaner enough time to break up any wax and dirt build up. After 45 seconds or so, lift up the ear flap and wipe the inside of the ear clean. Use additional dry cotton balls as needed.  Don’t be afraid to stick your finger deep into your pet’s ear as you wipe it clean.  Both dog and cats’ ears have L-shaped bends to them, so there’s no risk of touching the ear drum if you insert your finger into the canal.  Repeat this process on the other side.  When you are through, be prepared for your pet to shake his or her head, sending ear cleaning fluid all around. As you remove the debris in the ear, be on the look out for pus, very dark or black debris, blood, pain, and inflammation; all usually signal an ear infection that must be treated by a veterinarian.


The blue line overlaying the image outlines the L-shaped anatomy of a dog and cat’s ear.


How Often Should I Clean My Pet’s Ears?


Clean your pet’s ears when you see a build up of wax or dirt. If you are seeing regular, steady build up of wax in your pet’s ears, consult with one of our doctors.


Can I Treat An Infection By Repeatedly Cleaning My Pet’s Ears?


No, ear infections need to be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.  Also, what may appear to be an infection may be allergies or an infection related to allergies, so it’s best to have one of our experienced veterinarians determine the reason behind your pet’s ear issue and then develop an appropriate medical treatment plan.



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