Your dog's ears are sensitive and intricate, making them very difficult to clean. Your pup may resist when you probe this delicate area, making things even more challenging. But prick up your ears. Dirty dog ears are prone to problems and preventive care is necessary to avoid painful infection.
Before you try to clean your pup's ears, recruit a partner to help you hold her head steady. Choose the surface or location where the cleaning will take place. A counter or tabletop is helpful to bring a small dog up to eye-level. Place a cloth or blanket on the surface so your pooch will be comfortable and won't slip. Gather all your supplies so they are within arm's research. If your pup is nervous, you can't necessarily expect her to wait for you while you retrieve the materials you need.
It is impossible to tell if your dog's ears need to be cleaned when the inside of them is covered with hair. Some breeds are more prone to furry ears than others and can even grow hair in the ear canal. Hair inside the ear can catch dirt and cause ear infections. Flip the ear over and check the inside flap every two weeks. You can pluck excess hair out of the ear or ask your groomer or vet for help. Removing hair inside the ear will make it much easier to clean.
The construction of your dog's ear can make it very challenging to thoroughly clean. On the inside surface, it is a complex series of grooves and curves that need to be kept clean and dry in order to discourage parasites and keep bacteria and yeast from growing. Below the surface, your pup's ear canal is L-shaped, making it impossible to reach all areas that contain debris. If there seems to be debris further inside the ear, consult your vet. She may recommend flushing the ear out to remove all foreign matter.
Flip the ear over and examine the inside. It should be clean and pink. If it is red and hot, or if you spot dark discharge, do not proceed because your dog may have an ear infection. Cleaning an infected ear can be extremely painful and may even spread infection. Instead, see your vet. If the ear is clear, use gauze, cotton balls or a soft cloth to clean it inside. Do not use cotton swabs as they may damage the ear canal. Hydrogen peroxide, mineral oil, warm water or a cleaning solution recommended by your vet may be applied to the gauze. Wrap the moistened gauze around your finger and gently wipe out any visible dirt.
Based in Los Angeles, Mary Helen Berg has been writing about pets, travel, families and parenting since 1989. Her work has appeared in publications such as "The Los Angeles Times" and "Newsweek." Berg holds a Master of Science from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.