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Cleaning your pet’s ears

3 June 2021

Some pets’ ears are droopy, others stick straight up, but regardless of what they look like, they all need to be cleaned when they get dirty. We recommend giving your pet’s ears a quick check once a week to see if they need to be cleaned. If they do, how should you properly go about it? Do you clean a dog’s or cat’s ears the same way you clean your own? Globalvet has all the info you need to quickly and easily clean your pet’s ears.

Before cleaning their ears, it’s important to get your pet used to having their ears touched. There are a few basic guidelines you can follow to make sure everything goes smoothly. Read our advice in our article on the subjectwhich also includes everything you need to know about the best positions to keep your pet in while grooming them to keep them comfortable,  and the best times to perform the grooming.


Your pet’s outer ear is divided into three parts: the pinna, the vertical ear canal, and the horizontal ear canal.

  • The pinna is the outer part of the ear that you can see.
  • The ear canal starts at the base of the pinna and stops at the eardrum. It is shaped like an L.
  • The section before the bend is called the vertical canal, and the section after the bend is called the horizontal canal.
  • The eardrum (or tympanic membrane) separates the outer ear from the inner ear.

When cleaning your pet’s ears, you need to clean the pinna, but also the ear canal up to the eardrum. Dogs and cats have much longer ear canals than humans do. A Labrador’s ear canals can be up to 10 cm long! You can feel the canal by touching the base of the ear under the pinna.



Follow these steps to clean your fur baby’s ears.

  • Place the bottle of cleaner in a bowl of hot water to bring it up to body temperature.
  • Lift you pet’s ear with your thumb and forefinger to expose the ear canal opening. Gently place the palm of that hand on their head for stability and so you don’t pull on their ear.
  • With your other hand, fill the ear canal with cleaner until you can see liquid at the opening.
  • Massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Do it gently so you can hear the swishing sound of the liquid.
  • Soak up any excess liquid with a makeup remover pad, paper towel, or cotton ball.
  • Let your pet shake their head.
  • Wipe any residue off of their ears.

If you need to, play with your pet for a while until they calm down enough for you to clean their other ear.

You should clean your pet’s ear when:

  • You notice a buildup of earwax. Note that the amount of earwax an animal produces can widely vary — adjust how often you clean your pet’s ears accordingly.
  • Your pet has been swimming and may have water in their ears.

Remember, this grooming session is an opportunity to spend time with your pet—it will bring you closer together. If you take the time to make it a positive experience, pretty soon your bundle of fur will be happy to oblige!

Image source:

Diagram of the ear: MP Labo


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