How to Clean a Dog's Ears with Vinegar and Water

Dogs with floppy ears are  prone to ear infections.
chien image by valpictures from

Clean ears are essential to your dog's health and well-being. Dirty ears are a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, which can trigger painful infections. Always take your dog to his veterinarian if he appears to have an ear problem, and use a veterinarian-recommended product to clean your dog's ears. As an alternative ear-cleaning solution in cases where no problem is present, Texas veterinarian Dennis W. Thomas says a 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water can be used. This mixture can be used in the same way you would use a commercial ear-cleaning solution. However, it is essential to have your veterinarian make sure your dog's eardrums are intact before you put anything in his ears.

Step 1

Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water in a bowl.

Step 2

Lay out all your ear-cleaning necessities so they are within reach. Most dogs dislike ear cleaning; having everything ready and in reach will help you get the job done quickly, without having to leave your dog during the ear-cleaning process.

Step 3

Restrain your dog if he doesn't like getting his ears cleaned. Restrain a large dog by placing one arm over his shoulder and draping your other arm around his neck so you can expose the inner ear surface with your fingers. Restrain a small dog by placing a towel over him and leaving just his head exposed. If possible, have someone standing by to help restrain your dog.

Step 4

Fill a dropper with the ear-cleaning mixture, and gently squeeze it into your dog's ear canal. Veterinarian Joan Howl recommends filling the ear with the mixture to the point where it drips out.

Step 5

Plug your dog's ear with a large cotton ball. Most dogs will shake their heads the moment a liquid enters their ears. Veterinarian Henry Cerny says the cotton ball promotes rinsing of the ear, catches surfacing debris, and absorbs excess liquid.

Step 6

Massage the base of your dog's ear to spread the solution. Dogs generally like this part of the ear-cleaning process, so you should be able to give a thorough rub.

Step 7

Remove the cotton ball, and allow your dog to shake his head. This helps to loosen any debris inside the ear and brings it to the surface. At this point, if your dog allows it, you can choose to repeat the internal cleaning process for an extra-thorough cleaning.

Step 8

Clean the inner and outer surfaces of the ear flap. Moisten a cotton ball or gauze pad with the ear-cleaning liquid and wipe it over the visible surfaces of the ear. Wipe from the bottom of the ear flap toward the outer edge of the ear.

Step 9

Give your dog a treat for good behavior and allow the ear to dry naturally.


  • Never push cotton swabs deeper inside your dog's ear canal than you can see. Such objects can push debris and wax deeper into the ear and can damage the eardrum.


  • Work on a stable surface that's easy to clean.

  • Cover your clothes before you begin. Cleaning a dog's ears can get messy.

  • Examine your dog's ears regularly. If you detect discharge, redness, odor, ear scratching or frequent shaking of the head, your dog as an ear problem. Consult your veterinarian.

  • Clean your dog's ears at least weekly, as well as after his ears come in contact with water during bathing or swimming.

Items You Will Need

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Bowl
  • Dropper
  • Towel
  • Cotton balls
  • Gauze pads
  • Dog treats



About the Author

Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.

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