Whether it's a Labrador Retriever or a Goldendoodle, dog ears are cute, but they need continuous care to last a lifetime. You can make your own dog ear cleaner with just water and white vinegar, you can make a homemade dog ear cleaner in no time.
You'll find below a step-by-step guide for making a DIY dog ear wash, but be sure to talk to your veterinarian before giving it to your pet.
Some breeds require more frequent cleaning than others to avoid ear infections. A basset hound, for example, has long ears that can seal off the canals, and they are prone to infections.
The following are some other breeds that are especially susceptible to ear infections:
- Labrador retrievers
- Cocker Spaniels
- Pit bulls
Dogs with allergies also seem to be at an increased risk for ear infections.
Despite our perceptions, dog ear infections can cause pain, nausea, and even permanent damage if left untreated.
Below we'll provide you with some tips on keeping dog ears clean, along with a recipe for homemade dog ear cleaner.
📖 How to Make Homemade Dog Ear Cleaner
All you need to make a simple dog ear cleaner are ingredients you probably already have in your cupboards or laundry room.
Please remember that what works for you or me may not work for your dog. You'll also want to avoid using products such as hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, since they can irritate healthy skin.
📋 Ingredient Notes:
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links (Amazon Associate or other programs we take part in). As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases.
White Vinegar - This natural deodorizing and antibacterial mixture leaves his ears and coat shiny and healthy. Just be careful not to get any white vinegar in your dog’s eyes.
Water - Using two parts warm water helps to dilute the White Vinegar.
If you decide to use this recipe for your pooch, be sure to consult your vet first. Here, your vet may feel more comfortable suggesting a store-bought variety, which is usually available at pet stores.
Since you likely already have the ingredients on hand, you can make this recipe at home within a few minutes. If not, they are very affordable.
Further, DIY treatments give you a better understanding of what ingredients are going into your dog's ears. They may also be kinder to those who have sensitive skin.
Simply combine the 2 liquids into a jar and soak the pads (or you can use cotton balls) in the mixture.
🐶 Using Dogs Ear Cleaner on Healthy Dog's Ears
Your veterinarian will need to provide you with a clean bill of health before you make this DIY ear cleaning recipe.
A DIY ear-cleaning regimen should only be started after getting the okay from your veterinarian. In order to use a DIY ear cleaner on a dog that has an ear infection, follow whatever treatment your vet suggests.
Canine ear infections require antibiotics and cannot be treated at home. Using homemade ear cleaner on an already infected ear will only be made worse by homemade ear cleaner (or store-bought dog ear cleaners).
🐕 Common Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs
Dogs can develop ear infections for a variety of reasons.
Among the most common causes are:
- Injury to the ear
- Bacteria infection (less commonly, fungi or viruses)
- Excess water or liquid in the ear
- Excessive ear cleaning
- Large amounts of earwax
- Skin problems
- Foreign objects
A common cause of ear infections in puppies and dogs who enjoy spending time outdoors is ear mites. As the name implies, these tiny bugs can wreak havoc on a dog's ear.
Fortunately, it is possible to keep ear mites at bay by using flea and tick preventatives.
An e-collar may be needed to prevent your dog from pawing at his infected ears when he has an ear infection.
E-collars can be purchased or you can create your own DIY dog cone at home.
🐩 Signs of an Ear Infection in Dogs
Depending on the severity of your dog's ear infection, you may barely notice it or your dog may experience extreme pain. Symptoms change depending on how severe the infection is and how deep it is in the ear.
There are three basic types of ear infection in dogs, each affecting a different area of their ears.
1. Outer Ear Infection (Most Common)
The most common and least severe form of this disorder and an excessive amount of earwax and swelling around the ear are signs of these infections. Your dog may also start digging at his ears more than usual.
2. Middle Ear + Inner Ear Infection
Canine ear infections can also occur in the middle ear or, more seriously, in the inner ear.
When left untreated, an infection of the inner ear can cause scarring, and sometimes permanent, damage to the nerves and hearing.
Because your dog can’t tell you about ear pain or discomfort, but it’s likely that certain behaviors or actions can clue you in to his general ear health.
A list of some of the major symptoms of ear infections follows - if you notice any of these, call your veterinarian right away:
- Tilting the head or the body to one side
- Poor balance
- Head shaking / ear flapping
- Scratching or pawing at the ear(s)
- Discharge or odor around the ear(s)
- Sensitivity or pain around the ear(s)
- Masses around the ear
An ear infection can sometimes go unnoticed for months or even years. A close examination of the ear may reveal excessive wax as a sign of an infection.
No matter the severity, if you suspect your pup has an ear infection, it's time to schedule an appointment with the vet before it's too late.
Besides examining the inside and outside of the affected ear, your vet will provide treatment advice. Sometimes, ear fluid or wax may need to be sampled in order to determine whether infections or ear mites exist. An MRI or X-ray may be necessary in the most severe cases.
Your vet will then be able to recommend the best treatment for your puppy after determining the cause and severity of the problem.
🐾 How To Clean Your Dog's Ears
It is time to get to work cleaning those ears once your vet has cleared you to do so!
With the actual cleaning process, consult your vet as you did with the cleaning solution recipe.
How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
Ready to learn how to clean dog ears and how to clean puppy ears? Let’s get to it!
- You should fill your dog's ear canal with the ear cleaning solution your vet recommended.
- You can use an ear cleaning solution soaked cotton ball if your dog refuses to have cleaner directly poured in his ear. Gently place the cotton ball inside your dog’s ear. Avoid pushing the cotton ball all the way into the ear, as that can force debris deep into the ear. (Never use Q-Tips in your dog’s ears.)
- Make sure you massage your dog’s ear right next to your head.
- Massage the ear canal with a cotton ball soaked in dog ear cleaning solution, and then remove the cotton ball. Keep doing this until the cotton ball comes out clean.
- Let your dog's head shake a little, then wipe the outside of their ear with a cotton ball or tissue.
- Stop what you're doing and call your veterinarian if your dog appears to be in pain.
- Praise your dog and give him treats to make the experience positive. Your dog will learn to associate ear cleaning with a special treat, so make sure you give it a reward every time.
- To help your dog stay calm, you can also use and fill dog puzzle toys or a snuffle mat with treats that they have to figure out while you’re cleaning their ears.
🦴 Tips on Cleaning your Dog's Ears
Directly insert the squeeze bottle filled with solution into the ear. Make sure the fluid is the only thing entering your dog's ear and avoid the urge to stick the nozzle of the bottle into your pup's ear.
Once you’ve applied the solution, massage the area around the ear and ear canal. You’re helping the solution to break up the gunk and making sure that the fluid reaches the inner ear.
Your pup will shake his head again after you've applied a solution, just like when he's covered in suds while bathing. Besides removing excess solution and stopping dripping, this step is vital for loosening or removing earwax.
If the external ear canal is clogged with solution or earwax, wipe it clean with a cloth or piece of cotton.
After each cleaning, and in between cleaning each ear, make sure you wipe off the nozzle of the solution bottle to clear any debris that may carry bacteria. If you have more than one dog, it’s a good idea to invest in a separate bottle for each pooch to avoid spreading germs.
As you massage your dog's ear and surrounding area, note his reaction. Call your veterinarian immediately if the dog yells or otherwise exhibits pain.
This should feel good to your pup, but if he leans into your hand when you do this, he may have an itch that's hard to reach - a sign of an ear infection.
Whenever you flush your dog's ear, keep in mind that he does not know what you're doing - liquid trickling through the ear canal certainly sounds funny and is a little alarming.
Avoid startling your pup by moving too quickly or harshly. As you work with him, be gentle and avoid scolding him if he isn't fully cooperative or sits entirely still.
You should make cleaning your dog’s ears a positive one so that future cleanings won't be a nightmare. Maintain your dog's attention and contentment by using treats during the process. Be as soothing as you can throughout to reinforce his cooperation.
It is important to keep ear cleaning positive, because pups remember negative experiences.
Avoid using Q-Tips or smaller tools that might cause damage. You should stick nothing further into your dog's ears than your finger can reach (literally).
When handling your dog, always take precautions to avoid puncturing the eardrum, which can permanently damage the animal and cause extreme pain.
⏲️ How Often Should You Clean Your Dog’s Ears?
You should seek veterinary advice before deciding about cleaning your pet's ears.
Factors such as breed, allergies, and skin conditions. It is important not to clean his ears too frequently or improperly, as this can cause an infection.
Veterinary experts say that dogs typically require a thorough cleaning once per month, depending on other health or lifestyle factors. You may find that once a month is too frequent for your pup, and even less frequent cleaning will suffice.
Although cleaning your pup's ears may not be fun for you, it's an important part of canine hygiene in order to keep him from getting infected.
Dog Ear Cleaner Recipe
- ½ cup White Vinegar
- ½ cup warm water
Step 1: Pour one liquid into the other.
Step 2: Pour mixed liquids into a jar or
Step 3: Add pads to liquid and press down so
that you can put the lid on to store.
How to use Ear Wipes
Step 1: Open the jar and grab a pad.
Step 2: Squeeze excess liquid from the pad
back into the jar.
Step 3: Carefully use a pad to wipe inside of
the dog's ear but do not push the pad down into the ear canal.
Step 4: Discard the used pad when finished.
Step 5: You can add more pads to the bottom of
the stack if there is still liquid in the container.