7 Steps to ​Cleaning Your Pet’s Ears

December 21st 2018

By Katie Berry, RVT

Signs of a dirty or infected ear

  • Head shaking
  • Redness and swelling
  • Dark Discharge
  • Crusting in or around the ears
  • Nail scratches around the ears
  • Head tilt
  • Weird smells

Should I clean my pet’s ear without consulting a vet?

The best course of action if you are concerned about your pet’s ears is to take them to see the vet.* Repeatedly cleaning a pet’s ear does not necessarily get rid of an infection and sometimes ointments and medications are needed to get rid of infections.
The vet will have a look at the discharge and may also do a cytology, which looks under the microscope to see what is growing in the ear. Your vet can then discuss with you how to properly clean and medicate the ears.
If your pet’s ears are simply dirty or require their regular monthly cleaning, read on!
*You must know if your pet’s eardrum is intact before you clean them. If their eardrum has ruptured it can present like an ear infection. A veterinarian can tell you if your pet’s eardrum is intact.

How often should I clean my pet’s ears? 

You should clean your pet’s ear once a month when the ears are healthy or after a bath or swim.
If their ears stink, have black stuff in them, or if you see dark brown earwax, you should consult a vet .
Cleaning daily or several times a week should only be done when they have an active infection. Over cleaning can irritate the ear and cause an infection because the ears will overreact. 

What is best for cleaning your pet’s ears 

At our vet clinic we have the most success with Avena Sativa, an all-natural ear cleaner made from oats, or TrizEDTA. 

What you shouldn’t put in your pet’s ears

Do not use tea tree oil or any over the counter antibiotics or steroid drops, these do not help and can do further harm.
Tea tree oil is toxic and should not be used in pet’s ears. Coconut and olive oil are also not recommended because they are moist and can encourage the infection to grow. As well, hydrogen peroxide is too harsh to put in a pet’s ear.

7 Steps to Clean Your Cat or Dog’s Ear

  1. Pour cleaner into the ear until it starts dripping out.
  2. Massage your dog’s ear. You should hear a squishing sound.
  3. Fold a piece of gauze, cotton or tissue several times.
  4. Use the gauze, cotton or tissue to wipe inside your dog’s ear.
  5. Refold the tissue and wipe again.
  6. Continue until the tissue is clean.
  7. Wait 15 to 20 minutes after cleaning to apply medicine if your dog or has an ear infection
And you can watch our demonstration videos below. 

​If you are concerned about your pet's ears and they have any of the symptoms mentioned at the beginning of the article, we'd be happy to take a look at them. You can call us at 403-615-8016 to book an appointment.

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