How To Clean Your Dog Ears Like a Pro – Dog Ear Wax Removal

When it comes to dog grooming, cleaning the ears is probably the most underrated activity. However, it’s an important routine, just like cleaning your dog’s teeth. Cleaning your dog’s ears could help determine if your dog has an ear infection or ear mites. Anything from gently rubbing your dog’s ears to using dog wipes to clean the ear passages can serve this function. If your dog pulls away from you when you gently rub the ears, it might be an indication of an ear infection or lesion. 

Neglecting ear cleaning for a prolonged period leads to the accumulation of oil and ear wax in the ear canal, increasing the risk of ear infections. Mind you, cleaning your dog’s ears too frequently can irritate the ear canals and might injure your dog.

The frequency of ear cleaning may vary depending on the dog breed and its exposure to water or infections. Breeds with floppy ears, such as Basset Hound, have a great need for meticulous cleaning. They run a greater risk for ear infections considering the limited air exchange between the ears and the atmosphere. Also, dogs allowed to swim in water should have their ears wiped clean and dry each time.

Cleaning a dog’s ears isn’t a difficult task. It can be done at home with ordinary materials and doesn’t necessarily require taking your dog to the vet. Several effective cleaners for this purpose are available, although you may not have to use them in most cases. You might want to seek your vet’s advice on the best ear cleaning routine well suited for your dog.

How Do You Know If Your Dog’s Ear Needs To Be Cleaned? 

It is recommended that you examine your dog’s ear from time to time. Check for odd particles, dirt, and odour in the ear during the period of examination. If you notice excessive wax in the ear, it could be a pointer that your dog needs to have its ears cleaned. Also, the presence of discharge or odoriferous fluid in the ears is a good suggestion that it’s high time you cleaned your dog’s ears. 

Also, some dogs fancy having their ears rubbed playfully, so if your dog is an example of that, you may want to rub the ears at any opening. This can serve as a check for infections where if your dog cringes away, it can mean it has an infection that makes the rubbing of ears painful. 

Your veterinarian can, however, suggest a sustainable ear cleaning routine that suits your dog. 


What Is The Brown Stuff In My Dog’s Ears? 

Dogs are less prone to having the brown stuff in their ears than cats, where it occurs due to mites in the ears. In dogs, the brown stuff may also arise due to mites in the ear, especially in puppies. In older dogs, the brown stuff is likely a product of ear infection. 

Dirty dog ear
Image Credit: Petcoach

The thing in your dog’s ears could be black or yellowish, depending on the stimulant. Also, it could be waxy or granular. Excessive build-up of earwax in the ear can cause yellow to brown coloration in the ears. Other likely causes include polyps, allergies, frequent swimming or bathing, among others.

If the brown stuff in your dog’s ear also gives off a foul smell or odour, it’s probably due to a bacterial or fungal infection. Using chemicals to clean out the brown stuff may cause complications, so you would like to consult a vet to check your dog. 


What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Dog’s Ears? 

The ear is a delicate and sensitive part of any animal or pet. In dogs, it’s even more sensitive and liable to be clogged up with wax and dirt. When dirt and wax build up in the ear canal, it’s only a matter of time before bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens invade the ear. This is a common cause of ear infections in dogs. 

Many dog owners are ignorant of this fact hence the growing cases of ear infections among dogs. If you don’t clean your dog’s ears, it runs a higher risk of infections and even mites and ticks infestations. Also, the nature of a dog’s ear hinders trapped particles and objects from leaving the ear without the aid of mechanical cleaning. 


Can You Clean A Dog’s Ears Too Much?

Yes, cleaning a dog’s ears more than once a week might be too much. Besides, how often you clean your dog’s ears depends on the breed. Some breeds don’t necessarily require cleaning of the ears, while others demand such. However, regardless of the breed, cleaning a dog’s ear as often as every other day is deemed too much. This can be harmful to the dog in that it may irritate the sensitive skin of the ears. Dogs with drooping ears or ear infections are recommended for weekly ear cleaning, while ones with healthy ear canals can have their ears cleaned about once a month without any troubles. 


How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears? 

There are several factors to consider in determining how often you should clean your dog’s ears. The dog breed, age, lifestyle, and activity are the major ones that determine the frequency of cleaning. Most dogs with naturally healthy ear canals, and those with erect ears, should be set up for a monthly ear cleaning routine. 

Some other breeds, such as the Cocker Spaniel, which have floppy ears, should be ear-cleaned more frequently. Cleaning the ears once a week is normal for these breeds and dogs with ear infections. Puppies don’t necessarily require as much ear cleaning as grownups. Also, dogs fond of swimming or getting wet should be cleaned as often as once a week. 


Should I Clean My Dog’s Ears Regularly? 

The answer to this question depends on the breed, level of activity, age, and lifestyle of the dog. Too much cleaning of the ears can be irritating to the dog as their ears are sensitive. While certain breeds, especially the droop-eared ones, require regular ear cleaning, others do not. Before choosing a routine for your dog, check in with your vet to help you determine which would be preferable.

In most cases, dogs that are in the habit of getting their ears wet should get a regular cleaning, too. However, you would like to draw a line of distinction between cleaning out the ears regularly and overdoing it. Cleaning your dog’s ears as frequently as once in a week or fewer (for a floppy-eared breed) is regular enough, but any attempt to increase the frequency beyond this might tend towards too much. This can be harmful and painful to dogs due to severe irritation.


How Many Times Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears? 

Floppy-eared breeds such as the Cocker Spaniel may require ear cleaning routines as often as once a week. This is due to the closure of their ear canals and the inability of air to pass freely. Dogs with such ears are more prone to ear infections, perhaps due to the ear canals’ dampness. 

Erect-eared breeds and dogs with naturally healthy ear canals should be placed on a once-in-a-month ear-cleaning regimen. The same applies to dogs that have dry ear canals. If your dog is fond of swimming or playing in the water, you might consider setting up a more frequent routine for them to prevent pathogens from brooding in their ear canals. 

Dogs with existing ear infections should have their ears cleaned more regularly than healthy ones of the same breed and age. This would help to prevent an escalation of the infection and perhaps improve the ear condition overtime. In summary, once a month is normal for most dogs, but you shouldn’t clean a dog’s ear more often than once a week. 


How Do You Tell If My Dog Has Ear Mites Or Infection?

Ear mites are not common in dogs, though many ear infections are erroneously linked to them. Ear mites aren’t totally visible to the naked eye as they are microscopic. However, they may be present as whitish dots in the dogs’ ear canal and might cause the wax to build up. Sometimes ear mites may bring about a brown or black discharge from a dog’s ear, often with odor. 

Diagnosing the presence of ear mites in a dog’s ear with certainty may involve a visit to the vet, but there are tell-tale signs to look out for before the visit. When your dog has a reddish inflammation in its ear canal, it could be an indication of ear mites, though it could be due to some other allergies. Certainly, ear mites will make your dog scratch their ears often as the infection stimulates itching in the region. Ear mites can also be the reason your dog shakes their head too often. To be sure, you should get closer and inspect the ears for other visible tell-tale signs, as discussed above. 


Can I Use Baby Wipes To Clean My Dog’s Ears?

The short answer to this is “occasionally.” Dogs have sensitive ears, and you wouldn’t want to use chemicals that are harsh on the ears for that reason. The usual misconception is that since baby wipes are acceptable for newborns’ skin, they shouldn’t be different on dogs. This isn’t true since dogs can easily develop ear canal troubles when certain substances are used to clean their ears. 

Cleaning dog ear with baby wipes
Image Credit: Pethelpful

Further, baby wipes contain chemicals that are harmful to dogs and can bring your dog troubles. They may contain water or alcohol, which may be harmful to your dog in the long run. Some experts only accept its use in emergencies where it’s almost impossible to use other cleaning methods. Instead, you might want to consider using hypoallergenic wipes.

Additional methods that can substitute for baby wipes include using a soft towel with soap and little water to clean and dry the ear. Baby wipes may not affect your dog’s health, but they can bring about severe irritation to the skin. When you use, wipes avoid contact with your dog’s eyes and watch the dog closely for any hypersensitivity reactions.


What Is The Best Ear Cleaner For Dogs?

There are a good number of household ear cleaning materials for dogs on the web. Some of these solutions are harmful to your dog due to the indiscriminate addition of chemicals without proper dog health knowledge. However, special formulas are designed for sensitive skin, such as that of the dog’s ears. Look out for this type of solution to help clean out the ear and relieve odour. Among the best ear cleaners for dogs are the hypoallergenic solutions and wipes, most of which contain aloe or other biodegradable products that can easily be flushed out of the ear. 



Many dog owners have wondered if they must clean their dogs’ ears, considering it doesn’t appear an important thing to do. However, considering the high incidence of ear infections in dogs, experts commonly advise that dogs should have their ears cleaned out at least once a month on average.

Now, the frequency of the cleaning may vary depending on the breed and lifestyle of the dog. When you clean your dog’s ears, endeavor to use the right equipment and solution. An alcohol-based ear wash can dry out your dog’s ear, where some other chemicals can be harsh to the dog’s ear. 

One major factor to consider in choosing a cleaner is the sensitivity of the ear canal’s skin. The skin of the ear canal is sensitive and easily irritated. Hence, it is also advised that you clean the dog’s ears regularly but not excessively.

If you don’t clean the ears properly, it might worsen an infection or cause one. Conversely, when you don’t clean the ears, pathogens may enter and cause infection. See your veterinarian before you embark on any ear cleaning regimen for your dog. 

Lynne Garner

Lynne Garner

Writer. Dog and Cat mom. Don't talk to me until I have had my coffee. A lifelong animal enthusiast who enjoys writing about dogs and cats, and rescuing them.


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