General Health

The Right Way to Clean Your Dog’s Ears, According to a Veterinarian


Just as humans need to know when and how to clean our own ears for effective grooming, we need to do the same for our dogs’ ears to promote good health and comfort. This is particularly true for breeds with long ears that hang, as they are at the highest risk of developing ear infections. Here’s what to know about when and how to clean dog ears — without exacerbating any health issues or creating new ones — according to a veterinarian.

What causes dog ears to get dirty?

Dogs’ ears can get dirty from, well, actual dirt. “The environment the dog is exposed to and the activities it partakes in can play a role,” says Jennifer Freeman, PetSmart’s resident veterinarian and pet care expert. “For instance, the dog digs in the dirt, the dog swims a lot, the dog lives in hot humid environment, are all circumstances that could contribute to dirt getting in your pup’s ears.”

The shape of a dog’s ear can also contribute to perpetually trapped dirt. “Due to the curvature of the ear canals, debris can become trapped. Dog breeds with floppy ears like Spaniels are more vulnerable to infections and dirtier ears in general,” she says.

Allergies or infections could be among other causes, she says, so identify your dog’s risk factors based on its breed, habits, and health history. “Dogs that have underlying skin allergies are prone to getting recurring ear infections and inflamed ears,” Freeman says. “Some breeds are predisposed to having excessive waxy debris buildup, such as Cocker Spaniels.”


One Man’s Mission To Protect ‘The Dog America Loves To Hate’

Pit bulls have long been stigmatized by stories of aggressive behavior, locking jaws and poor temperament around children. Some cities and counties in Georgia ban pit bulls from being off-leash in dog parks, and national statistics show that dogs labelled as pit bulls in shelters spend three times longer there compared to other dogs — and are also the most likely to be euthanized. 

For the last decade, Jason Flatt has made it his mission to save as many of these dogs as he could. He is founder of “Friends to the Forlorn” pit bull rescue in Dallas, Georgia. The rescue houses between 75 and 100 animals on any given day – most of them pit bulls – and has re-homed over 600 dogs since 2009. 


While Flatt grew up around animals and expressed interest in becoming a veterinarian as a child, he ended up pursuing a successful career on Wall Street. However, when he lost his brother to suicide in 2005, Flatt fell into depression. At the time, he’d just moved from New York City to Georgia.