If you're a dog mama, you're probably familiar with how to give your pet a general scrub-down. But when it comes to cleaning your pup's ears, a bath alone isn't going to do the trick. A proper deeper cleaning — literally — will refresh Fido's ears without causing your precious pet any pain or discomfort.
According to ASPCA, a dog's grooming routine should include regular ear checks. This is particularly important if your fur baby has lots of inner-ear hair or earwax. But before you get the cleaning supplies out, first make sure your pet's ears actually need to be cleaned. Excessive cleaning can actually cause irritation and infection, so only clean your dog's ears when you notice dirt, a stinky smell, or any other worrisome changes. A clean dog ear looks pink, is odorless, and free of dirt and debris.
In most cases, you can clean a dog's ears with just a few steps and three simple items: a veterinarian-approved ear-cleaning solution, clean cotton balls or gauze, and a towel. The American Kennel Club says to first approach your dog when he or she is calm (maybe after eating a favorite treat). Have your doggo sit down, and position yourself behind her. Grasp your dog's ear gently but firmly with one hand and hold the ear solution in the other hand. Next, squeeze the solution to fill your dog's ear canal and massage gently at the base of the ear for about 30 seconds. A squishing noise is normal — that's the sound of all the icky debris dislodging! Just be careful to not let the tip of the applicator touch your pup's ears, as it may introduce unwanted bacteria.
Finally, let your dog shake his head. You can then use the towel to wipe down the pup's face (and also to protect yourself from incoming spray). After he's done shaking, take the clean cotton balls or gauze and softly wipe out the ear canal. Make sure you don't go any deeper than one knuckle in. And never insert a cotton swab (like a Q-tip) or anything with a pointed tip into your dog's ears while cleaning. These tools actually push debris further in, which can lead to nasty infections and maybe even trauma to the ear canals.
If your dog appears to be in pain at any point during the ear cleaning, or if you notice any redness or inflammation, it's best to consult your vet ASAP, according to VCA Hospitals. Your pup might have an ear infection or a ruptured eardrum, and the last thing you want to do is make the problem worse. Better safe than sorry, especially when it comes to your fur baby!