How to Clean Your Dog's Ears

Julia Henriques
how to clean your dog's ears

Have you noticed your dog scratching his ears more often than usual? It could mean his ears need cleaning. 

There are multiple ways to clean your dog’s ears. Let’s look at how you can clean your dog’s ears at home using natural remedies. 

Whether your dog’s ears are just a bit dirty and itchy and just need cleaning, or if he has a ear infection, here’s what you need to do.

How to Clean Dogs’ Ears Without Solution

You might think you need to run to the vet or go online to find your dog some kind of ear-cleaning solution. This isn’t the best option because most commercial or veterinary ear cleaners are suppressive products that disrupt your dog’s skin microbiome and only solve the problem temporarily. Instead, there are plenty of natural solutions you can make at home to clean your dog's ears. 

Home Remedies to Clean Dogs’ Ears

Here are a few home remedy solutions you can use to clean your dog’s ears:

Witch Hazel

Witch hazel, preferably organic, is the gentlest way to clean your dog’s ears without irritating them. 

Green Tea

Green tea is another effective, soothing  ear cleaner. To prepare it, boil 8 oz of water and add two tea bags of green tea. Once the tea has steeped for a few minutes, let it cool to a lukewarm or room temperature before using.   


Vinegar can loosen wax and other gunk in the ear canal, plus it has many other benefits. It can reduce the effects of ear infection by helping remove wax and harmful bacteria.

Create your solution by mixing 50/50 vinegar and water. If your dog’s ears are particularly inflamed or sensitive, you can cut down the amount of vinegar to as little as 10% of the solution. You can use either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, preferably organic. 

Oil of Oregano

Oil of oregano has powerful antibacterial effects so you should only use it if your dog has an ear infection. Use caution because the oil can burn your dog if it’s not diluted. A little bit goes a long way here. To create your ear cleaning solution, mix just one drop of oil of oregano with ½ oz of pure aloe vera juice. 

How to Clean Your Dog's Ears at Home

Once you’ve prepared any of the solutions above, it’s time to apply the remedy to your dog’s ears. Here’s how to do it in 3 simple steps:

1. Clean The Surface Of the Ear

You want to begin by cleaning the visible part of your dog’s ear. You can do this with a cotton ball or wash cloth soaked in the liquid solution. Remove any wax or debris. 

2. Clean The Ear Canal

Next, you can place some of your cleaning solution (about one dropper full each time) into the ear canal. 

Caution: Never insert cotton swabs into your dog’s ear canal ... you could damage his hearing. 

3. Massage And Release

Once the mixture is in your dog’s ear canal, massage gently below the ear for 20-30 seconds. You can then release the ear and let him shake his head if he wants. Make sure to reward him with a treat!

How to Tell if Your Dog Has an Ear Infection

If your dog has an ear infection, the steps above will largely be the same. You’ll just want to be gentler while cleaning, and perhaps use less vinegar when creating your home remedy solution. 

However, if your dog’s ears are so sensitive that you can’t clean them, or if his infection seems to be getting worse, it’s best to contact a holistic vet who’ll help you resolve your dog’s infection ... without suppressive drugs or antibiotics

RELATED: DIY solutions for ear infections …

Here are a few symptoms of ear infections in dogs. 

Ear Infection Symptoms In Dogs

If your dog only has some of the following symptoms, it’s likely his infection is mild and you may be able to treat it using the steps detailed above:

  • Rubbing ears
  • Hot ears
  • Smelly ears
  • Waxy discharge
  • Crusty, scabby or red ears
  • Irritated skin inside the ear flap
  • Head tilting towards the side with the ear infection
  • Head shaking
  • Scratching or pawing at ears

If your dog has the following symptoms, his condition is more severe and needs veterinary care right away.

  • Loss of balance
  • Walking in circles
  • Hearing loss
  • Dry eye
  • Nystagmus (quick side-to-side eye movements)
  • Drooping eyelids or mouth
  • Drooling
  • Difficulty eating or drinking

Don’t Over-Clean Ears

Don’t over-clean your dog’s ears. Most dogs’ ears are better left alone, even if they look a bit gunky or waxy. If your dog’s not showing any signs of discomfort, the wax will usually clear up on its own over time. Only clean your dog’s ears if he's itchy or uncomfortable. 

If you do need to clean your dog’s ears because he’s itchy, the solutions above will work great, and can even be used to treat mild infections.

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© 2024, Four Leaf Rover - The content on this website is not meant to replace veterinary advice. Please support the hard working holistic vets who make this information possible. To find a holistic or homeopathic vet near you or to find one who will do phone consultations, visit The Academy Of Veterinary Homeopathy.