Cleaning a dogs ears

Dog Grooming Tips – Ear Cleaning and Plucking


Most dog’s ears are prone to infection because of the way the ear hangs down over the ear canal – there isn’t much ventilation in there. Another common cause of ear problems in some breeds is a lot of thick hair within the ear canal. This hair traps debris, moisture and earwax which bacterial and fungal infections love.

There are several signs of ear infection:

  • A strange, often foul odour coming from the inner ear

  • Consistent scratching and rubbing of the ear and/or head

  • Discharge in the ear

  • Pain or tenderness of the ear

  • Redness or swelling around ear canal

  • Frequent shaking of the head

Veterinary treatment should be sought if you suspect an ear infection.

There are ways to prevent ear infections. The most common are regular cleaning and/or ear plucking.

Ear Cleaning

This can be done weekly or when needed. There are a variety of products on the market but at The Paw Pad Dog Grooming School we use good old fashioned fragrance free baby wipes (do make sure they are fragrance free). Never clean too deeply into the ear as this can be painful for the dog – never poke cotton buds down the ear canal. Wipe away excess wax or dirt from the inner ear using gentle strokes until it is clean. You will need to use a few baby wipes if the ear is quite dirty.

If the wax is very dark – almost like dried blood – the dog may have an infection called Canker Ear which will require veterinary attention.

Check your dog’s ears weekly for signs of infection and to clear away any wax or dirt.

Ear Plucking

Oo, it sounds horribly painful, doesn’t it? However, if you’re plucking the right hair from the ear canal it won’t be painful for the dog at all. As a side note – never pluck a dog’s ears if they have an infection. This will cause the dog immense pain and may even exacerbate the infection.

The ear of a dog is full of hair. However, the only hair we’re interesting in as dog groomers is the strands that are coming from inside the ear canal itself. These will often be darker or covered in wax. Not all breeds need their ears plucking, eg. smooth coated dogs.

At The Paw Pad Dog Grooming School we use Thornit’s plucking powder. This both helps us grip the hairs and is also slightly medicated to soothe the inner ear as the ear plucking procedure tends to inflame the hair follicles.

Ear plucking is a delicate procedure and should only be done by an experienced groomer or a vet.

Ear plucking is covered on all Paw Pad dog grooming courses.