How to clean your dog's ears


If your dog could grab a Q-tip and clean her own ears, maybe she would. But, alas, she can't, so you have to do it for her. Here's dog trainer Mike D'Abruzzo to show you how to clean a dog's ears, featuring Lola.

How to clean your dog's ears

Every dog needs her ears cleaned periodically. It may be as frequently as once a week, or much less often. You know their ears need cleaning if you can see wax or they begin to smell a bit. Here’s how to clean them.

  1. Get an ear cleaning solution and place about ten drops of liquid in the dog’s ear. Massage it for one or two minutes to let it penetrate and break up wax. Then, let the dog shake her head—she will instinctively do that because of the liquid in her ear.
  2. Get a cotton ball and wipe all around the ear. Don’t go down into the canal, just stay in the part of the ear that you can see.
  3. Take a cotton swab and clean the little crevices of the upper ear. Again, don’t go deep into the ear.
  4. Repeat with the other ear.
  5. At each step, praise your dog and help her stay calm.

If the dog begins to scratch her ears persistently, or they’re red or have an odor, consult your vet.


KATRINA: I'm Katrina Szish. An important way of caring for your dog is cleaning her ears. Now depending on your dog you may need to do that once a week, once a month, or maybe even only once a year. Here to help us do that is dog trainer and licensed veterinary technician Mike D'Abruzzo and he's going to be demonstrating on the lovely Lola. So Mike how do we know when it's time to clean our dog's ears?

MIKE: If you can see the wax, it's time to clean the ears. 

KATRINA:  Now let's take a look inside Lola's ears and see if she's due for a cleaning.

MIKE: Okay there's a little bit of wax in this ear. We're going to put about ten drops of the ear cleaning solution into her ear. Good girl. We're going to give it a really good massage for about one to two minutes and this will help break up all that wax that's deep down in the canal and also in her upper ear. Good girl. Okay after one to two minutes we let her shake to get all that junk out of there. Good girl!

KATRINA: Good girl Lola! So the dog's natural reaction is to shake the excess liquid out. 

MIKE: Yes.

KATRINA: Then you know that step one is finished.

MIKE: Yes it is.

KATRINA: Then you move on to step two.  

MIKE: Step two is we're going to take cotton balls, and you wipe it all out. You don't want to go too deep into the ear canal. That's what the shaking is for. Good girl.

KATRINA: So only the part of the ear that you can see.

MIKE: Only the part that you can see. You don't want to be dunking your fingers deep down in her ear canal. Good girl. What I like to do next after I use the big cotton balls, I like to use a little Qtip. The next step is to take Qtips and just use it to clean all the little crevices on the upper ear. Don't go deep down into the ear canal with the Qtips.

KATRINA: So Mike I notice you keep reassuring Lola throughout. You keep saying good girl; you're really paying attention to her. 

MIKE: Well that's the idea. We want this to be a positive experience for the dog. So, this way she'll sit better for you everytime you have to clean her ears.  

KATRINA:  Okay now after the Qtip is that the last step?

MIKE: Yes, that's the last step. Just remember periodically check the ears on your dog. 

KATRINA:  And it's a three step process.

MIKE: Three step process.

KATRINA:  Easy. So as you can see, cleaning your dog's ears is a very simple, three step process. Now if you do notice that your dog's ears are red or if they start to smell or they're scratching a lot, then you want to talk to your vet.

meet theexpert
  • Mike D'Abruzzo

    Mike D'Abruzzo Veterinary Technician and Owner, K9-1 Specialized Dog Training Pet trainer Mike D'Abruzzo is a licensed veterinary technician, certified trainer, behaviorist, and a skilled dog whisperer. He has been trained in many different styles and methods of training, behavior modification, and welfare maintenance. more about this expert »

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