Cleaning your pet’s ears is essential to keeping them healthy and happy. Regular ear cleaning can help prevent ear infections and other ear-related issues that can cause your pet discomfort and pain, so pet owners need to know when and how to clean their pet’s ears. Tidmore Veterinary Hospital knows this isn’t always an easy task, so we have prepared this step-by-step guide. 

When to clean your pet’s ears

Some pets, such as those prone to ear infections or those affected by allergies, and others only need their ears cleaned occasionally. Cats typically keep their ears clean with their grooming regiment, but cats who have skin conditions may need attention. Regular ear cleaning can help prevent various ear problems and you should ask your veterinarian about the frequency.

Cleaning your pet’s ears

Follow these steps to ensure a successful and safe ear cleaning:

  • Set up supplies — Gather your supplies so everything is at your fingertips. A basic ear cleaning kit includes cotton balls, cotton gauze, disinfecting ear cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian, towels or rags, and an ample supply of treats. It’s best to include more items than you think you will need. Never use Q-tips or swabs, which can damage the ear canal. You may want to clean your pet’s ears outdoors since it can get messy!
  • Predict a problem? — If you expect a struggle, ask a family member or friend to help with gentle restraint.
  • Inspect your pet’s ears — Before cleaning your pet’s ears, inspect their ears. If you notice signs, such as redness, discharge, or odor, contact your veterinarian before proceeding. This could indicate they have an ear infection and cleaning could further inflame or damage the ear.
  • Squeeze the solution — Place a small amount of ear-cleaning solution into your pet’s ear canal, taking care not to insert the tip of the bottle too deeply. Massage the base of your pet’s ear so the solution works all the way into the ear canal.
  • Let them shake — When the solution goes into their ear, your pet will naturally want to shake their head, which is fine, because this helps loosen the wax and debris. But, the headshaking can also be messy, and you should use towels to catch the solution. 
  • Remove the problem — Use clean cotton balls or gauze to gently wipe your pet’s ears and remove any debris. Ensure you use clean cotton balls or gauze for each ear to avoid spreading any potential infections. Also, be careful not to push too deeply into the ear canal to prevent injury.
  • Praise and reward — Give your pet a treat and lots of praise for being a good sport. Making ear cleaning a positive experience will help ensure your pet is relaxed and cooperative during their next session.

When to avoid cleaning your pet’s ears

If your pet has raw, painful, or yeasty-smelling ears, you suspect a foreign body is inside the ear, or you see discharge from the ear, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Do not attempt to check or clean the ears yourself, because you want to avoid further problems in the ear canal or to the eardrum. Your veterinarian will determine whether the inner ear is injured, remove any foreign body, and check for infection. 

Keeping your pet’s ears clean is essential to their overall health and quality of life, so make ear cleaning part of the regular grooming routine. With some practice and patience—and plenty of treats—they will learn to tolerate the practice, and perhaps enjoy the attention. Call Tidmore Veterinary Hospital if you need more ear cleaning tips or to schedule an appointment if you think your pet’s ears need veterinary attention.