There are many homemade ear cleaning liquids for pets, but some can be harmful or ineffective for dogs.

Your dog should not be in any pain when you clean their ears. The main culprit that causes dogs pain is alcohol or going too far into the ear. It helps to familiarize yourself with the dog’s ear canal shape and the difference between a healthy and irritated dog ear.


Like with every step of proper pet care, talk to your certified veterinarian before cleaning your dog’s ears. Making sure your prepared to do the job right the first time will help keep your dog’s ears clean.

Dogs Ears

If your dog appears in pain or uncomfortable during a cleaning then there are a few things you should know.

Dog’s ears can be afflicted with ear mites, ear infections, or much more. These problems will cause dogs pain and irritation before, during, and after cleaning. For these issues, we recommend starting with a visit to the vet.

Here’s what you should see when you examine the ear:

  • No dirt — Dirt is coarse and can impact the sensitive skin of your dog’s ear canal. Dogs get dirty, so don’t be alarmed if you see it in there. It just means it’s time for an ear cleaning!
  • No weird or yeasty smells — Be like your dog and trust your nose. Yeasty or strange smells in your dog’s ear are signs of an ear infection that is impacting their healthy skin sells.
  • No inflammation —If your dog’s ears suddenly get puffy or red and the ear canal becomes smaller, then check in with your vet.
  • No foreign objects — If you’ve cleaned your dog’s ears but they’re still itching or shaking their head, they may have a flea, ear mite, or debris in their ear. A vet can help you figure it out.

Additionally, your vet should be able to tell you whether they have any ear drum problems and what ear cleaners will work best for them.

Habits that are bad for dog’s ears

Dogs may love swimming in the ocean and sprinting through tall grass, it’s not always safe for their ears.

Dogs that submerge their heads under the water can get bacteria, debris, and other junk lodged in their ear canal. As for playing in the wild, dogs can unknowingly bring home ear mites or ticks when running through bushes, tall grasses, and brambles.

For both cases, it’s good to regularly wash your dog and check their ears to prevent painful infections or ticks.

How to clean your dog’s ears without any pain

At no point should your dog be in pain during this process. If your dog is in pain, you either went too deep into their ear or you should consult your vet.

As some guidelines for before you get started, be sure to prep your materials beforehand. Pick out your cotton balls, cotton swabs, treats for good behavior, vet-recommended cleaner, and a towel for you and your dog. Pick a time when your dog is tired — maybe after a good play session or before bedtime — so they are more cooperative.

Also, pick a space where they cannot run and hide from you! Do not be discouraged if your dog tries to avoid you during cleaning. They’re just confused and don’t know how you’re helping them. Consider asking a friend or loved one to help you if they’re just not sitting still.

After getting down to their level and getting them safely comfortable or restrained, it’s time to get started.

Step 1 — Hold the ear flap and pour some of the ear cleaning solution into your dog’s ear canal. If it overflows a bit that’s okay, but you don’t need a lot.

Step 2 — Gently massage the base of the ear with the liquid inside for 30 seconds. You should hear a swishing or sloshing sound as the cleaner breaks up gunk in the ear canal that’s beyond your reach.

Step 3 — Use a towel to guard your face and let your dog shake its head. Liquid will get on them and you without a towel, so be ready!

Step 4 — Use the cotton ball or gauze to clean their ear canal. Don’t go deeper than a knuckle, and if everything goes right this should feel good for them.

Step 5 — Time for pets and treats before repeating on the other ear.

Congratulations! That wasn’t so hard, was it? Below we’ve assembled some extra tips to make sure you’re cleaning your dog’s ear right.

Avoid alcohol

Unless recommended by your veterinarian, avoid alcohol and hydrogen peroxide. While often used for home cleaning, these solutions can harm the sensitive skin in your dog’s ears.

Additionally, be careful with many do-it-yourself ear cleaning solution recipes, because many can add harmful or ineffective ingredients.

Clean the ear flap and outer ear

Your dog’s ear flap traps a lot of the dirt and grim that eventually gets stuck in their ear canal. Cleaning off their outer ear and the ear flap can help prevent further infections or buildup.

Learn your dog’s ear canal shape

Do some research and look into the shape of a dog’s ear canal. The canal is long with a short 90-degree turn. This can help you visualize what you’re doing during the cleaning.

Consider grooming before cleaning their ears

We always recommend cleaning your dog with a nice grooming session before cleaning their ears. If not, your dog’s hair can get inside the ear and obstruct your cleaning.

If you don’t have the time for a grooming session, consider using Camp Canine’s grooming and doggie daycare services to help you keep your dog healthy, happy, and clean.

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