How to Remove Dog Ear Wax [Home Grooming Guide]

Aside from bathing and brushing, dog owners should never forget to clean their pets’ ears. Like humans, dogs will also accumulate ear wax, especially those with folded and long ears. If not cleaned regularly, it will cause odor buildup and infections. In this post, we will discuss how to remove dog ear wax safely at home to keep your dog clean and healthy.

how to remove dog ear wax

Common ear problems among dogs

Before we move forward to the ear-cleaning guide, we deem it important for every dog owner to know more about ear problems among their pets. This way, they can spot the infection and have it cured right away.

*Ear mites

Although ear mites are very tiny, they can wreak havoc on your dog’s ears. It causes a black or brown discharge and causes your dog to scratch and shake its head incessantly.

The goal here is to kill the mites and remove their eggs. This is possible with the use of a special ear cleaning solution. We recommend consulting with a veterinarian before using any ear solution for your canine pet.

*Otitis externa (outer ear infection)

On the other hand, otitis externa manifests through reddish-brown discharge. This can be due to mites, allergies, polyps, and even the failure to remove ear wax regularly. Take note that even excessive bathing can cause an external ear infection.

You should watch for head shaking, inflammation in the ear area, and a fruity odor on your dog’s ears. Again, this requires the attention of a veterinarian.

*Otitis interna (inner ear infection)

Otitis interna or otitis media (middle ear infection) will cause unbearable pain and discomfort to your dog. This will lead to redness and swelling as well as poor balance when your dog is walking. Also, if your dog is reluctant to open its mouth or seems nauseous, you should bring it to the vet as soon as possible.

To cure otitis interna and media, the vet will administer antibiotics. However, for worse cases, a surgical procedure might be needed.

Why you should clean your dog’s ears

Unlike human ears, dog ears have a structure that traps dirt easily. And since their ear canal has a deep construction, it would be difficult to remove dirt that has already been pushed inside.

So before this happens, it’s best to get your dog’s ears cleaned so earwax won’t accumulate thickly all over the canal. However, you should be careful about cleaning since many pet owners made the mistake of pushing the earwax further instead of removing it.

Also, you have to use an ear cleaner made specifically for dogs. You can ask your dog’s vet to know which one is the best to use under specific conditions.

Frequency of cleaning

If your pooch has normal and healthy ears, cleaning once a month would suffice. Still, some dogs may need frequent cleaning depending on their activities. Canines that swim or stay outdoors should have their ears cleaned twice or thrice a month.

Take note that doggos with an ear infection may need weekly cleaning, depending on the recommendation of the veterinarian.

If your dog’s ear has a weird smell, it might be time to clean it.

Signs of ear infection in dogs

If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, you must phone the vet right away. Home remedies may work, but proper diagnosis is critical to ensure the safety of your pet.

The following are the signs of ear infection among canines:

*Bloody, yellowish, brownish, and blackish discharge
*Intense head shaking, scratching, or tilting
*Weird odor on the ear area
*Swelling and redness on the ear area
*Hair loss around the ears
*Loss of balance
*Nausea (in worse cases)

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should schedule a visit to the vet. Putting off a proper diagnosis will only cause the infection to worsen. Take note, these kinds of health problems don’t go away on its own but only become serious over time. 

When to visit the vet

If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, it’s best to bring your dog to the vet. This way, your pooch will receive proper diagnosis and treatment. Also, there’s nothing to lose if you’ll ask for routine checks on your dog to prevent any health problems.

How to remove dog ear wax

how to remove dog ear wax
Photo Credits: Rover

If you don’t know how to remove dog ear wax, you’re at the right place. Below, we discuss five simple steps for this grooming task. We recommend doing this as part of your dog’s regular grooming sessions.

*Things you need

Ear cleanser – avoid those with hydrogen peroxide or alcohol as this will irritate your pet’s skin. Always ask the opinion of a veterinarian before buying or using one.

Cotton pads or balls– never use cotton swabs as this will only push the dirt further to your dog’s ear
Clean towel – this will be useful in cleaning messes and preventing the ear cleanser from splattering when your dog shakes its head.
Tweezers – this will come handy if you need to pluck some ear hairs that get in the way of applying the ear cleanser.


Step 1. Let your doggo calm down

Before doing anything, make sure that your dog is calm and settled on a stable surface. If your pooch gets scared, let them sniff and lick the ear cleaner bottle first. However, supervise them so the dog won’t chew the container.

Step 2. Apply the cleaning solution

Hold your dog’s ear up so the flap won’t be covering the entrance of the ear canal. After that, apply the cleaner into the car little by little. The amount will depend on the recommended dosage. Avoid over-applying ear cleaners as it will only cause a mess and you’re going to waste a substantial amount.

Step 3. Massage the ear

Once the ear cleaner has seeped through your dog’s ear, massage the base of your dog’s ear. Do this for about 20 seconds to allow the solution to spread all over your pet’s ear.

After that, release your dog and hold the towel over its head. Wait for your pooch to shake its head. The towel will prevent the cleaner solution from splattering everywhere.

Step 4. Remove the excess solution

After that, get some cotton ball or a cotton pad then wrap it around on your index finger. Use this to wipe the external areas of your dog’s ear canal to remove the excess ear cleaner.

Take note that you shouldn’t force to reach the internal parts of your dog’s ear. Just wipe the part of the ear canal that’s visible from the outside. The rest of the cleaner will cleanse the ear inside.

Step 5. Reward good behavior

After that, you’re all done! Consider rewarding your pooch with some treats. This way, your doggo will associate ear cleaning with something positive. With this, the pooch will cooperate the next time you attempt to clean their ears.

Application of medication

If the veterinarian prescribed a medication for your dog’s ear problem, here are additional steps you can take:

Step 6. Hold the flap of your dog’s ear

Hold the tip of your dog’s ear upward to give way for the medication. Apply a few drops of the medication, depending on the suggested dosage. Avoid touching the tip of the bottle and always wipe it with clean tissue paper after each application.

Step 7. Massage the ear

While still holding your dog’s ear flap, massage the base of your doggo’s ear to spread the medication. Do this for 30 seconds. Take note that it’s normal to hear a squishing sound as it’s the medication spreading inside the dog’s ear.

Step 8. Wipe any debris

If the massaging caused some debris or wax to come out of the dog’s ear, wipe it with a cotton ball or pad.

Mistakes to avoid

As you see, the steps on how to remove dog ear wax are easy. Still, you shouldn’t make the same mistakes that other pet owners committed.


Sure, you have to keep your dog’s ears clean, but you shouldn’t be overzealous about it. Just follow the steps above and you’re golden. For dogs with an ear infection, you should follow the instructions of the veterinarian.

*Using the wrong ear cleaning solution

There are various formulas of dog ear cleaning solution. Make sure that you get one that suits your dog’s needs to prevent irritation and further infection. Again, the advice of a veterinarian is indispensable.

As much as possible, avoid homemade ear cleaning solutions if you don’t have knowledge about its chemical composition. You may end up causing more damage to your dog’s body.

*Using cotton swabs or Q-tips

As you’ve noticed above, we didn’t use cotton swabs. Remember that dogs’ ears aren’t the same as humans. Cotton swabs will only push the dirt and earwax further into your pet’s ear canal. Cotton balls, cotton pads, and paper towels should be fine.

*Relying on the vet to do the cleaning

As much as veterinarians can help with your dog’s ear infection, you shouldn’t rely on them to clean your dog’s ears. As the pet owner, it’s your responsibility to keep your pooch healthy and clean. If you don’t have the time to do the ear cleaning, you can ask a dog groomer to do it for you. But usually, ear cleaning can be done at home.

*Scolding your dog while cleaning

If this is your first time cleaning your dog’s ears, expect that they will be hesitant to stay put. In this case, avoid scolding or hurting your pooch. Just like a child, they will be afraid of anything unfamiliar. The best thing to do is to introduce the ear cleaner container and let them get relaxed with it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is it safe to pluck my dog’s ear hair?

A: Yes, especially if it has grown too long. You can use tweezers for this, though some just pull the hair one by one. Don’t worry because most dogs don’t feel extreme pain when their ear hair is being plucked. Still, you should pluck little by little to prevent injuries.

Q: Is hydrogen peroxide safe for my dog’s ears?

A: NO! Even on human ears, hydrogen peroxide isn’t always safe for humans in removing ear wax. As much as possible, use only the ear cleaning solutions recommended by your dog’s vet. This is to prevent irritation and potential injuries on your pooch’s ears.

Q: Can I use water to clean my dog’s ears?

A: You don’t have to worry about water getting into your dog’s ears as long as you don’t spray it directly. Usually, dogs will shake their heads and dispel the water away. Still, you should use a clean and dry cotton pad to remove the moisture so it won’t cause odor buildup.

Q: Can humans get ear mites from dogs?

A: Humans rarely acquire ear mites from dogs, though caution should always be taken. Other dogs and furry animals can be infected if the condition isn’t cured right away. Also, you should get the mites addressed right away to prevent further health issues on your dog.

Q: Why does my dog keep shaking her head and scratching her ear?

A: If your dog shakes its head and scratches its ear incessantly, an infection may be brewing on its ears. If you notice a change in odor and colored discharge, you should bring your pet to the vet right away.

Final words

Knowing how to remove dog ear wax is fairly easy. As long as you use the right product, your dog should be safe with home grooming. If you have doubts, the advice of a veterinarian is always the way to go. Avoid any untested home remedies as this may only make matters worse.

Moreover, you should integrate ear cleaning on your dog’s grooming schedule. Take note that cleaning your dog’s ear isn’t a one-time practice. Like with humans, it should be done regularly to prevent infections. Do you have anything else to add to this post? Share your experiences with us in the comment section!