Dogs have very long ear canals, usually from 5 to 10 cm in length. They also take a right-angled bend, so foreign material often goes in, but difficult to get out. If dogs get water in their ears during swimming, this water can pool down in the horizontal ear canal and increase the risk of infection.
Dogs that have skin allergies and are prone to frequent ear infections will also benefit from regular ear cleaning. Your vet can recommend how frequently to clean the ears, but not more than weekly, and ideally at least monthly.
If your dog’s ears are healthy but dirty, you can clean them with a commercial dog ear wash. You only use a quality dog ear cleaner. Never put olive oil, vinegar, shampoo or any other substance in a dog’s ear. Put a big amount of cleaner in each ear and massage the base of the ears for thirty seconds. Then let your dog shake his head. Wipe the visible part of the inner ears with a cotton ball or tissue to remove any excess cleaner.
Avoid poking around with cotton buds in the ear, you will only work any wax and debris further in and potentially damage the ear drum. You should check your dog’s ears once a week for signs of infection, parasites, or dirt and debris. Look inside each ear. It should be a healthy, fleshy pink color and free of excessive wax buildup or dirty discharge.
The signs that your dog has an ear infection are: inflammation or swelling in or around the ear canal; any type of dirty looking discharge; strong, foul odor; ears are sensitive to touch. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian immediately for an appropriate treatment.