dog ear cleaning

Dog ear cleaning in 4 easy steps

Before we talk about the appropriate dog ear cleaning steps, let’s take a closer look at what this organ really is. It consists of 3 parts (as for human ears): the outer ear (the part that will have to be cleaned), the middle ear separated from the outer part by the eardrum and the inner ear.

The dog’s ear canal has a special L-shape, and secretes a product called earwax. This earwax (commonly called wax) is a fatty substance used to protect the ear canal from external agents such dirt, particles, insects and other nuisances … but accumulated in large quantities, it can become annoying for dogs. Unlike ours, the dog’s earwax is not yellow, it is brownish in color. When its color is yellow for example it means that the dog has an ear infection.

Dog ear cleaning material checklist

To clean a dog’s ear, you will need an ear cleaner recommended by your veterinary. There are several products available in the market and they have advantages and varying features: in a single dose, pleasant fragrance, calming, drying agent … the primary purpose of these ear cleansers is to dissolve and limit the frequent reappearance of earwax. I personally like the Avena Sativa product, it works really well with my fragile English bulldog.

avena sativa dog ear cleaner

You will also need cotton or non-woven compresses to wipe off excess product coming out of the duct and recover the dissolved cerumen. Do not use water or any other products not suitable for cleaning dog ears as they are not being intended for this purpose and their use could lead to otitis. It is also strongly advised not to use cotton swabs. Due to the peculiar shape of the dog’s ear canal, their use could push impurities deep into the ear, and cause injury.


Prepare your equipment and install yourself in a comfortable place where you can move, and in a place where you can clean (away from fabrics and sofas). Depending on its size, you can leave your dog on the floor or on the contrary set it up at a higher level, on a table for example which would allow you to stand up while your are doing your dog ear cleaning job.

You will have to figure out how to hold your dog and prevent it from shaking its ears. Here’s a trick, hold the pinna with one hand, stretching it slightly upwards. This action will allow the duct to be slightly “unstuck” and thus allow the product to flow as far as possible but will also discourage your dog from wanting to shake his head.

Dog ear cleaning in 4 easy steps

1: Raise the flag of his ear

With one hand, hold the pinna of the ear vertically to clearly see the entrance to your dog’s external ear canal. Pour a large amount of cleaning liquid into it by squeezing the bottle as if you were filling a whole glass.

2: Gently massage the base of the ear

Do not hesitate to “press”, between your thumb and forefinger, the base of your dog’s cartilage duct by making a massage movement. This is to spread the product well throughout and down the duct. It will also cause the secretions to unhook from the wall of the ear. If you do this right you should hear a “squeaking” sound.

3: Dry the ear canal

Put your index finger covered with a soft absorbent tissue (a compress or a make-up disc can also be used) in your companion’s conduit to wipe off the excess liquid present. Use circular movements to collect the dirt and repeat these gestures several times until the tissue comes out clean.

4: Let your dog shake his head

Let the dog shake his head and ears to bring the deepest dirt to the surface. Attention, it is advisable to practice cleaning your dog’s ears outside to avoid any projections on the walls or your furniture.

dog ear irritation

Practices to avoid

♦ Do not clean your dog’s ears excessively: once a week or every other week should be enough.

♦ Do not use a cotton swab: this risk packing the impurities at the bottom of the duct

♦ Do not pour baby oil into the tube: it can cause ear infections.

♦ Do not use alcohol or dry clean the ear as it irritates the skin.

♦ Do not instill liquid without knowing if the eardrum is intact: if in doubt, consult your veterinarian.

dog ear infection
Dog ear cleaning frequency

As with many hygienic treatments, there is no hard and fast rule. The frequency is to be adapted according to each animal. An average of every 15 days is generally recommended for dogs without ear problems.

If the ears produce a lot of earwax and the entrance to the ear canal looks greasy, dirty, more frequent cleaning will be necessary.

In the event that the dog presents pathologies of the ear (parasitic otitis, fungal, …) more frequent cleaning will be prescribed by the veterinarian.

The ear cleaner will be adapted to each situation: when the ears are very red and painful, we will prefer to use a product with a calming agent like calendula for example, we will stay away from products that are too astringents.

Dogs with drooping ears may also need more frequent ear cleaning. The duct being “closed” by the pavilion of the falling ear, it does not ventilate well and the ear may tend to macerate. It will therefore be necessary to check these fragile ears even more often.

How to maintain your dog’s ears?

In addition to cleaning the ears, on the inside, it is also important to maintain the outside of the ear and the entrance of the ear canal.

For dogs with drooping ears and whose coat is long or medium-long and dense, such as cocker spaniel for example, it is possible to mow the inside of the ear. This measure will limit the penetration of foreign bodies such as spikelets.

In dogs with drooping ears but whose hair is less dense, this is the case of bichons, poodles, shih tzu … the ear canal is usually quite hairy. It is advisable to depilate the entrance so that it can ventilate and breathe properly. This will also prevent the earwax from remaining trapped in the hair and will make it easier to clean the inner area of the ear.

dog ear examination

Are my dog’s ears healthy?

When something seems abnormal in your pet’s ears, you should consult your veterinarian. Signs that may appear are earwax of abnormal color, yellowish or black, a liquid secretion which would tend to flow outside the ear, a strong odor and your dog constantly scratching its ear.

These signals must be taken seriously and motivate an appointment with a veterinarian. If your dog show such symptoms, do not hesitate to get your dog’s ears examined as soon as possible!

are dog ear infections contagious

Are dog ear infections contagious? The Full Guide

Everyone has heard of ear infections, but do you know the different causes in dogs? And are dog ear infections contagious?

If your dog is scratching his ear, seems to be suffering from the area, you should go to the veterinary because treatment must be put in place quickly!

The treatment to implemented must be bases on the diagnosis of your veterinarian. Do try a different route!

Causes of ear infections in dogs

bacteria in dog ear canal

An ear infection is an infection or inflammation of the pinna or ear canal. There is not one, but different ear infections, which can be distinguished according to the origin of the problem:

Parasitic ear infections, also called ear mites

This parasite (Otodectes Cynotis) looks like a microscopic spider and multiplies in the ear canal by feeding on the earwax it contains.

Ear mite parasites produce dark brown or blackish dirt that can be observed inside the duct. However, be careful, the presence of blackish content in the ear does not always mean that the dog has an ear infection!

These parasites cause very unpleasant itching for the dog. He then scratches his ears frequently while moaning.

It could also lead to a dog shaking his head repetitively.

vet examining dog ear

In such a case, you should consult your veterinarian so that he can establish the diagnosis and quickly initiate treatment. This usually consists of drops to be placed in the back of the ears for at least 4 to 6 weeks. It may also include oral antibiotics depending on the severity of the infection.

Are dog ear infections contagious?

Ear mites are very contagious from dog to dog, or from dog to cat, but it does not affect other species, nor do they affect humans.

Bacterial ear infections

They are manifested by severe pain in the ear, and by the presence of pus and sometimes bleeding in the duct.

Ear infections can be the consequence of a “cold snap”, for example when the dog has remained with his head out of the car window. They can also be due to maceration, especially in breeds with floppy ears because the flag permanently covers the orifice of the duct, limiting the proper ventilation of the ear canal.

dog scratching his infected ear

In some small breeds (poodles, bichons, shih-tzu, etc.) hairs grow inside the ear canal, which further increases the risk of maceration. If you notice such phenomena quickly consult a veterinarian. You may need to get on a strict ear grooming protocol.

Allergic ear infections

They are quite frequent. Also called erythematoceruminous ear infections, they are mainly found in dogs with an allergic tendency.

They are mainly manifested by redness and itching on the outside of the ear, on the pinna, and in the cartilages surrounding the entrance to the ear canal. There may also be an accumulation of very thick, yellowish, fragrant earwax, which may be due to a secondary infection.

These ear infections being of allergic origin, they tend to be renewed regularly and must often be the subject of a general treatment of the allergic ground of the animal.

dog ear cleaning

The type of treatment should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Mycotic ear infections, caused by a microscopic fungus

This type of infection involves a yeast called Malassezia Pachydermatis. It can be responsible for chronic ear infections and the relapse or poor healing of other types of ear infections.

Infections other than ear mites are often due to maceration and allergies. None of these causes are contagious to humans.

Treatment of ear infections in dogs

Your veterinarian will prescribe a treatment suitable for the origin of the ear infection. It will consist of liquids to instill in the ear canal (cleanser, antibiotics, etc.), tablets, dermatological milk to pass over the pinna, etc.

The most important element of the treatment to be successful is to place the drops properly at the bottom of the ear canal. This will be all the easier when the dog has been used to having his ears cleaned from an early age.

Recommended process for ear drops

The process should be seamless and painless and certainly without risk for your canine friend if you abide by the following instructions:

treatment for dog ear infection

Push the tip of the bottle vertically into the ear canal without being afraid of injuring the eardrum since an elbow prevents you from touching it

When the bottom is reached inject the product, remove the tip then massage the outside of the ear between the thumb and forefinger to distribute the product. Make sure you massage the bottom part of the ear to create good enough down flow.

Vets recommend to let the dog shake its head so that the dirt goes up towards the entrance of the duct. I prefer to clean up the outer part of ear myself. More precisely, I slightly wet a non-woven compress with a medicated soap such as Hibitane (2% concentration) and wipe the inside of the ear above the entrance of the ear canal.

Bottom line, it’s important to collect the earwax and the dirt that goes up. Repeat in both ears until there is no more dirt coming up.

Please note that the use of a cotton swab is not recommended. There is a risk of irritation by the cotton of the very tight cotton swab as well a fine cotton filaments getting stuck in the area, which can create further infection.

dog ear examination

Are dog ear infections contagious to children?

We get that question quite often. Although we make it clear that an ear infection in dogs is not contagious to humans, people seem to think children are different because they are perceived have a weaker immune system. Rest assured, ear infections in dogs are not contagious to children at all.

vasculitis in dog's ears

Vasculitis In Dogs’ Ears: Not Just Any Skin Issue

Vasculitis in dogs’ ears is an inflammatory response of the blood vessels in the skin. There is not always an obvious reason or cause behind this condition. Sometimes vasculitis of the dogs’ ears is caused by an adverse response to a drug or vaccination. Other times it is due to a tick-borne disease like Lyme and Ehrlichia, or just an autoimmune reaction to an unknown situation.

Types of Vasculitis in Dogs’ Ears

Vasculitis can be classified as infectious or non-infectious.

Infectious vasculitis:

  • When an infectious pathogen initiates an immune response, damaging the vessel walls and creating inflammation.

Non-infectious vasculitis:

  • Typically an immune-mediated response. It can be initiated by an adverse drug reaction, usually vaccinations or an oral medication like an anti-inflammatory or antibiotic.

inflammation of the blood vessels in dog's ears

Symptoms of Vasculitis of The Dogs’ Ears

Vasculitis in dogs’ ears is also called pinnal vasculitis and is more commonly seen on the ear pinna, which is the flap of the ear. It can also be seen on the paw pads and other parts of the body such as the nose and tail, and on rare occasions internally.

Typically, the lesions are wedge-shaped and crusty, starting at the tip of the pinna and working its way down the ear.

This list of pinnal vasculitis symptoms is not exhaustive but reflects commonly observed conditions:

  • Purple lesions
  • Crusting as well as scaling
  • Significant discharge
  • Pain on and around the affected area
  • Hyperpigmentation resulting in black or dark skin coloration

On occasion, symptoms of the autoimmune disease, Lupus Erythematosus, can be seen as well with vasculitis.

Some forms of vasculitis, like the proliferative thrombovascular necrosis type, can actually cause the tissue on the pinna to die, starting at the ear tips. Usually, this is due to a blood clot or decreased blood flow to the vessels in the ears.

primary and secondary vasculitis in Dogs

What Causes Vasculitis In Dogs’ Ears?

This disease is one that has been tricky for pathologists and other specialists to pinpoint a direct cause in canines. There have been some studies in human medicine that have actually helped the veterinary side with respect to testing that can be done for vasculitis.

Typically, the cause will be unknown unless the symptoms coincide with the start of a new drug or vaccination. An idiopathic diagnosis is not uncommon in many vasculitis cases.

Science has also shown that there can be a few other potential reasons such as:

  • Neoplasia (cancer)
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Autoimmune response
  • Rickettsial diseases (tick-borne)
  • Idiopathic (unknown)

Which Dogs Are More Affected by Vasculitis of The Ear?

Vasculitis does not seem to affect any particular breed or age but can be seen more frequently in German Shepherds, Rottweilers and some terrier breeds. Age and gender also do not seem to play a role in who is affected by this condition.

German Shepherds are one of the breeds that can develop vasculitis lesions on the paws as well as the ears and tail. This usually happens when they are very young and undergoing their puppy vaccinations. It would be wise to discontinue vaccinating the dog until the vasculitis is well controlled.

Pinnal vasculitis with tissue necrosis can be seen in dogs that have had their ears cropped. They will be susceptible to painful and exudative ear lesions along the outer edge. This is due to the nature of their pinna cartilage, causing an inflammatory response. This usually affects dogs like Boxers, Schnauzers and Doberman Pinschers, early in their life.

vasculitis in dogs' ears

How Do We Diagnose Vasculitis of The Dogs’ Ear?

A veterinarian can offer professional advice on how to appropriately diagnose this condition in your dog. If he is showing clinical symptoms, then it would be important to pursue any recommended testing.

Most of the time, there are obvious symptoms seen during the veterinarian’s physical exam, such as lesions on the ear pinna. If your dog does show any clear signs, then further examination will be necessary to truly diagnose the condition.

Samples to the lab

Even if it may seem obvious, your vet may still insist on sending a tissue biopsy to the lab for confirmatory diagnostic purposes. It would be pertinent for them to send in a healthy sample of tissue along with the affected tissue for comparison.

It would be more responsible to have a true definitive diagnosis with a tissue biopsy reviewed by a dermatopathologist, to rule out the potential for other similar-looking diseases.

Other diagnostic tests

When dealing with vasculitis in dogs’ ears, either of the ear pinna or any other affected part of the body, it is important to note that running blood tests is also a crucial step in screening your dog’s condition. In some cases, vasculitis can affect other parts of the body, such as the liver and kidney functions.

Tick-borne diseases like Ehrlichia, Lyme disease and anaplasma can also adversely affect the kidneys, causing life-long damage.

systemic vasculitis in Dogs

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Vasculitis?

Once there is a confirmed diagnosis of pinnal vasculitis either through biopsy or a physical exam, treatment can be established.

Treatment If Caused By A Rickettsial Disease

If it is determined that the cause is a Rickettsial disease, such as Lyme, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma, then treating it with doxycycline or other similar medication will be ideal. Keeping them on a good flea and tick prevention program is also key to stay away from any other inflammatory responses to a tick bite.

Treatment If Caused By A Vaccination Or Drug

When the cause of pinnal vasculitis is a vaccination-related issue, then avoiding the suspected vaccine is the first place to start. While having your dog vaccinated is very important, sometimes their physiology can’t handle it.

Rabies vaccines have been known to cause vasculitis in dogs. Usually, symptoms of alopecia are the first observed, occasionally followed by scaly or crusty lesions and scarring of the injection site and pinna.

Titers can always be performed in cases of vaccine sensitivities. The other option is to wait until the vasculitis is well controlled.

In other instances, it is important to eliminate any suspected drugs or supplements that the dog could be reacting to. Discontinuing all oral medications is necessary to rule out which one could be the cause.

Treatment For Neoplasia

Again, identifying the underlying issue is the first step in treatment for vasculitis of the ears. If neoplasia was found to be the cause, then treatment of the cancer is clearly the priority. Hopefully, after removal of the maligned areas and some minor drug therapy, the dog’s quality of life will greatly improve.

Other Treatment Options – Glucocorticoids

As mentioned above, every patient’s treatment depends on the confirmed or suspected underlying cause and diagnosis. In many cases, treating with a glucocorticoid or other immunosuppressive or immunomodulating drug will be beneficial in treating the symptoms and giving the dog comfort.

A commonly used glucocorticoid for pinnal vasculitis is called Synotic, which is a veterinary-specific drug. It usually works very well to control the inflammatory lesions, specifically on the ear.

If this doesn’t provide the desired results then adding a stronger oral steroid may be necessary. Unfortunately, oral steroids come with a lot more side effects than the topical application of Synotic.

Pentoxifylline and Tacrolimus

Several dermatologists agree that starting with Pentoxifylline instead of jumping immediately to steroids is a good strategy when treating pinnal vasculitis. This drug is an immunomodulator that works by reducing the body’s reactivity to leukocytes.

Using Pentoxifylline in conjunction with a topical cyclosporine derivative drug, called Tacrolimus, is also quite effective in minimizing symptoms and discomfort arising from .

If no relief is seen with this drug protocol then it is standard to go to prednisone or other steroid use. This is not as ideal, as chronic steroid use comes with its own list of potential future problems.

Supplements to improve skin affected by vasculitis

There is a supplement called Niacinamide that works in more mild cases of vasculitis that affects the ear pinna, the nose and feet. It helps to reduce some inflammatory responses associated with conditions of a suppressed immune system.

Niacinamide does have some minor side effects of vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Discontinue if these are noted.

Life-long management for some dogs

Unfortunately for some dogs, pinnal or other forms of vasculitis, is a life-long condition, especially if it is found to be caused by an autoimmune disease. Chronic vasculitis is usually treated as it flares up with steroids, assuming it isn’t well maintained with something topical.

Vasculitis In Dogs’ Ears: Prognosis

Typically, the prognosis is a good one. Unless the underlying cause cannot be identified. In this case, the prognosis reduces significantly.

Diagnosing the cause of the vasculitis is crucial in dictating an appropriate treatment.

Like many dermatologic issues, patience is key with respect to a Vasculitis In Dogs’ Ears. It can sometimes take several months to minimize or eliminate the nasty symptoms.

Recommended Resources

Scientific study of 42 dogs with primary and secondary vasculitis
Systemic Vasculitis in Dogs: Inflammation of Body Blood Vessels

dog ear hair removal

Dog ear hair removal techniques you need to know

Dog ear hair removal can be a tricky endeavour if not handled appropriately. But before we dive into the process we should first understand what type of hair your dog has. There are in fact several types of hair in dogs, some of which do not fall out (modified anagen and catagen phases, no thalogene phase), but have continuous growth (as with the Poodle).

Others types of hair die, but do not fall spontaneously, and must be uprooted to make room for the new ones (as with the Wire-haired Terriers or the Westie, for example). These different types of hair have given rise to several methods of grooming: detangling, shearing or cutting with scissors, hair removal.

Dog ear hair removal purposes

Each method of grooming aims to optimize the beauty and regrowth of the type of hair concerned, and the use of another technique can lead to disaster! Mowing, for example, if it is perfectly indicated for the curly fur of the Poodle, will have a degenerating effect on the hard hair of the Fox-Terrier which, after a few months of this approach, will become woolly, dull and soft, while the epilation ensures vigor, hardness and shine.

The dog you want to groom is, in theory, yours. This is not the case of the groomer who must start his work within minutes following the arrival any new canine client. However, if the dog is rushed he will often be rather recalcitrant. We therefore understand that the grooming profession requires a lot of psychology … Certainly, your position is more enviable, however, that does not solve all of the challenges.

dog ear grooming

Understanding your dog’s behavior

The nervous dog

A dog has various ways of defending itself, you will clearly notice, depending on its personality and its physique. The nervous type will turn in all directions, will be elusive, and you will have all the trouble in the world to immobilize it.

The shy dog

The shy dog ​​will curl up on itself, and you will waste time and patience trying to “unfold” it.

The obese dog

The obese dog will simply drop on the table, refuse to get up, and it will have to be strapped standing, which never gives very good results.

The aggressive dog

Let’s not forget the aggressive dog who will try to impress you by showing you his collection of fangs, or will outright jump on you to bite you. In reality, there is a small percentage of the canine population that cannot be groomed due to aggressive behavior. Such behavior can be as impressive or intimidating in a York that barely weighs 2 pounds than in a 10 pound Poodle!

dog ear waxing

Only a calm and relaxed dog will allow you an optimal grooming experience. It is normal for a dog to try to defend itself while being handled in an uncommon way.

Key instructions to follow

1) Do not make the dog suffer, or at least as little and as briefly as possible
2) Reassure the dog so that fear does not replace the absence of pain
3) Know how to recognize your dog attempts to fool you by sending you wrong signals!

It is sometimes very difficult to make the right decision: increased firmness or more softness? There should be no wrong method …

Dog ear hair removal process

In order to ensure proper ventilation of the ear canal, it is necessary for most breeds of dogs to epilate the long, fine hair that grows inside the ears. To do this, turn the ear that you hold flat against the skull. If the hairs are not too oily, therefore slippery, you can remove most of them by hand, holding them tightly between your thumb and forefinger, and pulling them out with a dry gesture.

dog hair brushing

For others, use a special ear clip, or ordinary tweezer. Gently grab the hairs inside the duct, taking care not to push the forceps too far, and gently remove them by turning. Attention, the dog must be properly maintained, because it does not usually appreciate much the operation!

A sudden movement on his part risks sinking the pliers and injuring him. Also take care not to pinch the skin when catching the hair, which is unfortunately common, and very painful for your canine friend. Ear waxing is usually done at the same frequency as all other grooming work. For dogs with dense and fast growing hair, more frequent sessions may be required.

happy dog with owner

The ideal ear clip for dog ear hair removal

It is actually a hemostatic forceps also called “clamp” in surgery. It is used to grasp the long, fine hairs that grow inside the pinna and tend to block it, causing harmful maceration.

A real good quality ear clip is difficult to find and must be handled with the greatest care, because at the slightest sudden gesture of the dog, the extended length of the clip can risk penetrating too deep into the ear canal. So it is better to use a good conventional tweezer, less dangerous in case your dog inadvertently moves around.