How to Clean a Puppy's Ears

Puppy ears need occasional cleaning.
Royalty free image from Shutterstock

Your puppy's ear health is important, and dirty ears can develop infections that may lead to hearing loss. While it's normal for a thin layer of sticky, yellowish wax to line the innermost part of your puppy's ear canal, thick wax, brown wax, debris or moisture in the ear can trigger irritation and an infection. Puppies with long, floppy ears are more susceptible to chronic ear infections.

Step 1

Check your puppy's ears at least twice a week for wax buildup or debris, especially if he plays outdoors in windy conditions. Avoid getting water into his ears when bathing him. Moisture, trapped in the ear canal creates a warm, moist environment for bacteria and yeast fungus to grow.

Step 2

Wipe the inner ear flap with a sterile cotton ball to clean away dirt and wax residue. Wipe from the inner portion of the flap outward, taking care not to insert the cotton ball into the small portion of the ear canal. Dip the cotton ball in water and squeeze out the excess before wiping if your puppy's ears are very dirty. Routine wiping is sufficient for many puppies.

Step 3

Squeeze a small amount of professional ear cleaning solution gently into your puppy's ear canal if he has excess wax buildup but no sign of irritation. Do not insert the squeeze tip any further than the ear opening. Immediately massage the outer base of the puppy's ear to distribute the solution before allowing him to shake his head and expel the excess.

Step 4

Proceed with the cotton ball wiping method after giving the ear cleaning solution a minute or two to soften the wax. Your veterinarian will recommend a solution that cleans your puppy's ears without irritating them.

Step 5

Clean your puppy's ears if you have him professionally groomed. Frequent ear infections in show dogs may be a result of moisture left in their ears during the bathing and grooming process.


  • Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your puppy's ears are red or swollen or if they have a foul odor, as these are signs of an infection. Without treatment, your puppy could suffer hearing loss.

  • Do not use rubbing alcohol, vinegar or other solutions that may burn the tender skin inside your puppy's ears.

  • Avoid letting your puppy ride in the car with his head out of the window. Strong winds can lodge pollen, dust or other debris deeply in your puppy's ear canal.

Items You Will Need

  • Sterile cotton balls
  • Water
  • Professional veterinarian ear cleaning solution


  • Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, 4th Edition; Debra M. Eldredge, DVM; Lisa D. Carlson, DVM; Delbert G. Carlson, DVM; James M. Giffin, MD; Howell Book House Published by Wiley Publishing, Inc; 2007

About the Author

Glenda Taylor is a contractor and a full-time writer specializing in construction writing. She also enjoys writing business and finance, food and drink and pet-related articles. Her education includes marketing and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.

Photo Credits

  • Royalty free image from Shutterstock