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How to Properly Clean Your Pet’s Ears

Find out how you can clean your pet’s ears at home for a happier, healthier companion.


Big, small, floppy or cropped — ears of all shapes and sizes need to be cleaned as part of a proper pet wellness plan. While longer, floppier ears need to be cleaned more often, proper ear care for dogs and cats is important for preventing infection in all types of ears.

  1. Buy a vet-approved cleansing solution. Better yet, talk to your pet’s health care provider first to see what they recommend.
  2. Get your pet comfortable in a place you can clean easily. We recommend doing this in the bathroom and having your pet in the bathtub or a down-stay position.
  3. Gently lift the ear so you can easily access the ear canal.
  4. Pour the recommended amount of product into the ear canal. Follow the package directions for detailed instructions.
  5. Massage the ears from the outside for up to 2 minutes depending on the product directions.
  6. Allow your pet to shake. This removes the solution and gets loose debris out. (It’s also the reason we recommend performing this routine in the bathroom!)
  7. Swab the ears with a cotton pad. Being careful not to go too deep. A rule of thumb is to not go past skull depth. Wipe the inside of the ear flap as well.

Some other things to keep in mind:

  • If your pet balks or seems to be in pain when you touch his or her ears, they may already be infected. Get them checked by your vet immediately. This is also a great reason to have pet insurance!
  • Don’t overclean your pet’s ears. Dogs and cats with upright ears need to be cleaned less often, but ask your vet for a personalized recommendation.
  • If you smell an odor or notice your pet scratching or shaking his or her head more than usual, it’s probably ear cleaning time. 
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