How to Clean a Small Dog’s Ears

Ear wax buildup and excess hair in the ear canal can be problems for your dog. Not so much for hearing loss as for potential ear infestations and infections. The latter is among the top five reasons why people take dogs to vets.

You can help your dog by cleaning his ears once a week or as directed by your vet.

  • Use sterile cotton balls, tissue or gauze. For routine cleaning, you don’t need to use a cleaner but could use mineral, olive or baby oil to wipe his ears or a commercial cleanser such as Aurocin CM Ear Cleanser w/ Aloe. If you want to prevent wax buildup or your dog has floppy ears and the ear infections to prove it, try an anti-fungal cleaner such as DECHRA MalAcetic Otic Cleanser. 
  • If using commercial cleanser, put five to ten drops of the cleanser in his ears and massage the ear lobe area.
  • Use a new cotton ball/tissue/gauze on each ear. If one ear is infected, using the same tissue may spread the infection to the healthy ear.
  • Never put a Q-Tip, your finger or anything else down your dog’s ear canal.
  • Wipe the underside of his ear and the opening of the ear canal.
  • See if there is hair growing down the ear canal. This is a particular problem for Poodles, Shih Tzu, Yorkies, Maltese and Affenpinschers.
  • You can GENTLY pull out the hair (see or cut it with small nail scissors and then wipe it away.
  • Wipe away any excess solution from the underside of the ear and the front part of his ear canal with the cotton balls. 
  • Give him a cuddle and treat.


If you see anything in his ears that looks like red dirt or coffee grounds or if his ears smell like a sewer, see a vet right away. It’s probably ear mites or other
infections. .

Always wipe out his ears after swimming or bathing. Water remaining in the ears can lead to inflammation or infection. It’s a good idea to shake ear powder such as R-7 Ear Powder in his ear and ear canal to dry up excess water.

Here’s a good video on how to clean his ears.

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