Neglecting to clean out the insides of your dog's ears can lead to bacteria growth, infection and vet visits. Cleaning the ears too often can be just as bad, though, so clean the ears only as often as they appear to need it -- if you look in and they appear dirty, it's time for a cleaning. If your dog swims, give his ears a quick clean afterward. If water gets trapped inside, it can get nasty in there.
Step #1 - Hold your dog still. No matter how many times you've done it before, your dog will probably resist having his ears cleaned -- most dogs do. If he's too big for you to hold onto yourself, enlist a partner to help keep him still.
Step #2 - Place the nozzle of your dog ear cleaning solution bottle against the inside of the ear flap -- the side without any fur on it. Squirt a few drops on. Insert the nozzle just past the opening of the ear canal and gently squirt in a few drops. If you are concerned about squirting in too much cleaner, or if your dog won't hold still enough for you to get a squirt in, simply wet your cotton ball with the cleaner directly. Wipe the nozzle of the applicator clean with a piece of bathroom tissue.
Step #3 - Hold the ear flap shut and gently massage it, especially near the base of the ear. This helps the cleaner spread throughout the ear canal, loosening any dirt and particles that may have built up down there. If you squirted the cotton ball with cleaner instead of squirting cleaning solution directly into the ear, skip this step, as massaging the ear without squirting cleaner in first has virtually no effect.
Step #4 - Wipe out the ear gently with a cotton ball -- it may take more than one, especially if the ear is dirty. Make sure you reach into the ear canal, but not too far. Never reach farther than you can see.
Step #5 - Swab out folds inside the ear flap using a cotton swab. Do not, however, use the cotton swab to wipe out the ear canal. You know this could lead to injury.
Step #6 - Take your dog to the vet if you notice irregularities such as unpleasant odors, discharge, swelling or redness.
Step #7 - Ask your groomer to check the ear canal for hair growth, as some dogs have hair that grows inside the ear can lead to matting and even ear infections. The groomer may need to pluck these hairs. While the likelihood of this happening varies from breed to breed, it's never worth risking your dog's health.
By Tom Ryan
About the Author
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.