Step 1: Acquire cleanser
The first thing you’ll need is a good ear cleanser. Most veterinary offices carry one, as do pet supply stores, so this should not be too difficult.
Step 2: Treat your dog
You don’t want ear cleaning to be a chore. Grab a few pieces of your dog’s favorite treat, and reward her for good behavior so she associates ear cleaning with delicious snacks instead of the worst thing ever. This is especially important for dogs with sensitive ears or who may have had bad experiences in the past.
Step 3: Apply cleanser
Once your dog is relaxed and sitting, tilt your dog’s head down with one hand and gently squirt the cleanser into your dog’s ears until it fills the canal. This may also be a good time to shove a treat under your dog’s nose to distract her from this new sensation.
Step 4: Rub the ears
Hold that earflap closed to keep the cleanser from spilling out, and rub the ear. Give it a good massage to work the cleanser in. This process loosens up any gunk inside, and many dogs actually love this part. I mean, who wouldn’t want a good ear rub?
Step 5: Let your dog shake
Hopefully you read these instructions through all the way before following them, because this part can get a little messy, so you may want to do ear cleanings on the porch or on a tile floor. After you have rubbed for at least 60 seconds, step back and let your dog shake (trust me, she will) and try not to get splattered.
Step 6: Wipe out the ear
Once your dog is done shaking, reward her and wipe her ears out gently with a piece of gauze or a tissue. Don’t go digging around in there. A good rule of thumb to follow is to go no deeper than your first knuckle on most dogs. If you have a very small dog, you might find the first knuckle is too deep.
That’s it! You’re done! Tell your dog what a good dog they are and get on with your day.
Things not to do while cleaning your dog’s ears
- Don’t use a cotton-tipped applicator. You could damage your dog’s ears, and you will also end up pushing debris further into the ear canal.
- Don’t use witch hazel or alcohol to clean out ears, as these can dry out the ear canal and sting.
- Don’t assume that ear cleaning is a replacement for veterinary care. If your dog has an ear infection, she may need to see the vet for an in-depth cleaning and medication.
- Don’t make the experience unpleasant for your dog, or she will dread ear cleanings in the future.