Here’s a vet-recommended 2-step process for cleaning and treating your dog’s itchy (and dirty) ears.
Take it from me, you should do this before it turns into a serious ear infection!
How I Clean My Dog’s Ears
Dogs and ear problems go hand in hand — especially in the summertime.
Our 3-year-old Black Lab, Destin, always gets that brownish-black gunky stuff in his ears.
The vet said this is a form of yeast infection, and the best way to treat it is to follow this 2-step procedure:
1. Clean the ears thoroughly with a dog-approved ear wash. (We use Corium 20 — got it at the vet.) Bonus: It makes your dog’s ears smell GREAT!
How to do it:
- Squirt a good bit directly into the dog’s ear canal — you can’t use too much. (When squirting, be careful not to touch the insides of the ear with the tip of the bottle, because your dog will likely jump when the cold liquid hits his ear, and you could hurt his inner ear with the bottle if you’re not careful.)
- Use the dog’s own ear to close the ear opening and massage all of the liquid around inside his ear — up high and down low. Use a fair amount of pressure to literally massage the inner ear and work the liquid down into the canal itself. But don’t rub too hard — you’ll know when you’re being too hard… dogs typically enjoy a light massaging of the ears.
- Then, let go of his ear, and let your dog shake all of the excess ear wash out of his inner ear. You won’t have to do anything to prompt him to do this. Your dog will be eager to give a good head shake the very moment you stop massaging his ear… so watch out!
- After a quick “treat” for good behavior, get your dog back into a position that will enable you to look into his ear while his head is resting either on the floor, or on your lap.
- Finally, tear a cotton ball in two or more smaller pieces. Hold your dog’s ear “open” with one hand, while wiping a small piece of cotton through the entire inside of his ear. For our Black Lab, it takes about 4 or 5 “wipings” with small cotton balls to get all of the now-loosened gunk out of one ear.
2. Treat the ears immediately with a prescription antibiotic and/or antifungal and/or anti-inflammatory medicine.
We use Otomax — got it at the vet. Otomax is the absolute best choices for dogs’ ears because it’s one of the few doggie ear meds that has all three — antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory medication — in one.
How to do it:
- Simply squirt one big drop in each ear.
- Use the dog’s own ear to close the opening to the ear and massage the liquid all around the inner ear.
This 2-step process typically keeps Destin’s ears clean, gunk-free, and itch-free for about 2 months — sometimes longer! The process itself takes about 5 minutes to do both ears.
If at-home remedies for ear cleaning are preferred, the best mixture to reach for is white vinegar in water as a 50/50 mixture. The vinegar acts to break down the wax in the ear, and creates a pH in the ear which prohibits the growth of bacteria and yeast. – Vet4Petz
Why Dogs Get Icky & Itchy Ears
Our veterinarian said that Destin will likely have this “problem” all of his life is because he’s got long flappy ears they tend to trap moisture inside — it’s the perfect environment for growing yeast.
About the only thing we can do is to prevent this from happening more frequently is to keep his ears as dry as possible.
So after he goes swimming, or gets a bath, we use a cotton ball to dry up any water & moisture that remain in his ears.
Since we keep an eye on it, it hasn’t really been much of a problem for us. But in those early days, when he was a pup, he was coming down with ear infections every month. Now, it’s just part of his grooming routine to get his ears cleaned & treated on occasion.
Oh, and how do we know when it’s time to go through the process of cleaning and then treating Destin’s ears again?… He will usually start pawing at his ears, scratching them, or tilting his head to one side, like his ear is bothering him. That’s when we break out the dog ear cleaner, and the dog ear medicine and we “do ears.” He knows exactly what to expect.
More About Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears