Search on Experts' advice

Dog ear care

Dog ear care

- Categories : Health

© Martine Lavallée, Technicienne en santé animale et BAA

The dog's ear is an important and very sensitive organ. If you notice that the outside and inside of the ears are dirty, you must first ask yourself if there is an infection (otitis). Often accompanied by a bad smell, otitis requires the care of our veterinarian. He will examine the inside of the ear canal with an otoscope and will take a sample to verify if there is an otitis or not.

If there is no otitis, a routine of ear cleaning and sometimes ear waxing should be instituted.

Anatomy of the dog's ear

The dog's ear has an ear canal that has a very steep angle (see picture number 1). The part leading to the eardrum is always more difficult to clean. However, with such an angle we cannot injure the eardrum when cleaning the ear. This "L" shape of the dog's ear canal causes wax and moisture to accumulate at the bottom of the ear. Both of these phenomena can lead to ear infection.

In some breeds of dogs with floppy ears that constantly cover the ear canal, there may be an increase in problems with canal ventilation.

In other breeds, hair grows into the ear canal, which also impairs ear ventilation.

For these reasons, ear care is important and should not be neglected. Regular and proper care can help prevent infections.

Illustration of the dog's ear

Image numéro 1 : Oreille du chien

Ear cleaning

I recommend an ear cleaning, for droopy or pricked ears, usually every one or two weeks.

For Poodle and Bichon dogs, whose ear canals are often overgrown with hair, it may be helpful to pluck the entrance to the canal and then clean them (see below).  

In order to be able to carry out a rigorous maintenance of your dog's ears, it is preferable to start getting him used to this type of manipulation early in his life.

Dog at the beach

The tools needed for cleaning

There are many cleaning products with different properties. Ask an animal health specialist to choose the right ear cleaner.

  • Pet ear cleaner: designed to gently dissolve earwax; 
  • Cotton swabs/cleaning pads or tissues: like those used to remove makeup;
  • Q-Tips: ONLY for cleaning the ear canal in all its nooks and crannies (see picture number 1). Cleaning the ear canal is NOT done with Q-Tips! They can push the earwax into the ear instead of pulling it out!


Insert the tip of the cleanser vertically into the ear canal, pulling well on the pinna. Then, massage the cartilage at the base of the ear to distribute the product to the end of the ear canal, and also to loosen earwax and other particles. Then, with a cotton swab on your index finger, introduce it into the canal to recover all that has been loosened. If necessary, and if the ears are very dirty, repeat several times.

Generally, the dog will shake his head at the end of the cleaning and will spray us with cleaning product. This is normal! Let's dress accordingly. Using a piece of cotton or a compress, we will clean the excess debris that has remained stuck to the pinna and the entrance of the duct.

To avoid transmitting infection or parasites from one ear to the other, remember to clean the tip of the bottle between each ear with a cotton swab coated with alcohol.

Video from Doctissimo demonstrating this technique in detail
Image numéro 2 : vidéo Doctissimo

Click on image number 2 to see a video from Doctissimo demonstrating this technique in detail.

Hair removal: frequency and techniques

Some breeds of dogs have a highly developed hair system in the ear canal. All this hair hinders the evacuation of moisture and dirt, which can lead to ear infections. In order to ensure the proper ventilation of the ear canal, it is necessary to remove the long and fine hairs that grow inside the ears. I recommend plucking once a week, in small amounts at a time. It is not necessary to remove all the hair at once, unless the vet suggests otherwise.

The gentlest way is to simply use your fingers and pull the hair out. To do this, the hair should not be too greasy or slippery. We can remove most of the hair by holding it firmly between thumb and forefinger and pulling it out with a dry motion. We can also shave, with a narrow razor, the hairs around the entrance of the duct. As with cleaning, the ear should be turned over and held flat against the skull.

Some people also use ordinary tweezers or hemostats. Again, the hairs are gently grabbed inside the ear canal and gently removed by twisting. More painful than the first method, the dog must not move. With this method, there is more risk of pinching the skin at the base of the hair, which is, unfortunately, frequent and which makes the exercise more at risk of accident as well as small punctual injuries.

Sit Dog


Sometimes our dog's ear is naturally clean. If our dog doesn't scratch his ear, doesn't shake his head, and we don't see any earwax or other dirt between the folds of the auricle and especially at the entrance to the ear canal, then everything is fine. Regular cleaning is therefore not necessary.

Note that normal earwax is white or yellowish. If it is black, it could be earwax (ear mites). If the earwax is yellow and smelly, our dog may have an ear infection. In this case, we must consult a veterinarian, because not treating our dog's ear infections is negligent.

Share this content