How and Why of Pet Ear Cleaning

Dog ear cleaning

Ear infections are more common in dogs than cats. There are many causes of ear infections including allergies, parasites, autoimmune diseases, endocrine diseases, and foreign bodies (plant awns, hair, sand), to name a few. A thorough history and physical examination in addition to performing cytology helps diagnose most ear infections. There are many aspects in treating ear infections, one of those being ear cleaning.

Owners are often asked to clean their pet’s ears at home as part of the treatment. There are many different types of ear cleaners including various brands and active ingredients. There are some ear cleaners that may be better for one infection versus another. Depending on the type of infection and severity, owners may be asked to clean their pet’s ears daily, several times per week, weekly or even biweekly. Cat ears are more sensitive and therefore often do not require cleaning unless the infection is severe.

Pet ear cleaning

Ear Cleaning Procedure

We recommend cleaning one ear at a time. When cleaning your pet’s ear(s), the ear canal(s) should be filled with the ear cleaner until you see the solution at the opening of the canal. Then you can massage gently at the base of the ear; this helps dislodge debris that is deeper within the ear canal (if your pet’s ears are painful, then you may bypass this step).

After, allow your pet to shake his/her head and then you can wipe any residual solution and debris with a cotton ball. You may have to do this procedure a couple of times until no more debris surfaces.

We do not recommend using cotton swabs as they often push debris deeper in the ear canal and they can also get stuck within the canal. If your pet does not tolerate the ear cleaning solution poured into the ear canal, then you can soak several cotton balls and squeeze the solution from the cotton balls into the ear canal.

To see a video on how to clean your pet’s ears, please see our videos.

1. Campbell, Karen L.; Griffin, Craig E.; Miller, William H. Muller & Kirk’s Small Animal Dermatology, 7th Elsevier Mosby 2013., 741 – 767.
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