How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears at Home


Learning how to clean dog ears is just as important as understanding how to clean a dog’s teeth and how to bathe a dog. Yes, it can seem scary and daunting, and it might even make you feel squeamish and uneasy, but you absolutely have to do it. Not only will it keep your pup’s ears healthy and comfortable, but it will also help them avoid a painful dog ear infection. Lucky for you, we have step-by-step directions to get the job done quickly and easily.

Once you debunk the ear-cleaning scaries, you’ll have the confidence to tackle more dog-care tasks—like buying proper dog grooming supplies and learning how to groom a dog at home.

Get Reader’s Digest’s Read Up newsletter for more pet tips, humor, cleaning, travel, tech and fun facts all week long.

How often should you clean your dog’s ears?

There’s no cut-and-dry answer because, like humans, all dogs are individuals. Some dogs are more prone to wax buildup and need more frequent cleaning, while other dogs only occasionally need their ears cleaned. Luckily, there are some general guidelines to help you determine when and how to clean dog ears.

Dogs with floppy ears, such as beagles and cocker spaniels, don’t have as much air moving in and out of their ears. This traps moisture, which can create an environment for bacteria and/or yeast to grow. “I always recommend that pet owners who have dogs with floppy ears clean them regularly, as waxy buildup can predispose them to ear infections,” says Katie Pagán, DVM, a veterinarian with Heart + Paw. That might mean once a week, but confirm with your veterinarian first. (On the other hand, dogs with cute pointy ears need fewer cleanings because air flows more freely.)

If your dog swims regularly, they might need their ears cleaned more often. And if your dog has a history of recurrent ear infections or allergies, they’ll also need more frequent ear cleanings. “It’s important to clean your dog’s ears once a week to every two weeks to minimize infections from flaring up,” says Nicole Savageau, DVM, a veterinarian with The Vets. Regardless of ear type, it’s wise to check in with your veterinarian to determine how often and how to clean your dog’s ears.

How can you tell if your dog’s ears need to be cleaned?

Elena Efimova/Shutterstock

Signs Your Dog Trusts You

sanjagrujic/Getty Images

Why Do Dogs Bury Bones?

Hillary Kladke/Getty Images

What’s Your Dog Thinking About?

search close