How To Clean Dog Ears At Home

Is it dog ear infection symptoms or just a dirty dog ear?

Before we get to how to clean dog ears, it’s worth considering what is actually going on with your pup’s ear. 

Frequently we leap to diagnose any sort of ear situation in a dog as an ear infection or “yeast”. 

What comes next? Antibiotics. 

The trouble with this is antibiotics do a lot of damage — to your dog’s gut, particularly. 

The other problem is the more you use them, the more likely your dog’s system will become resistant to them so they won’t work if you ever really need them. So it’s best to use drugs as a last resort, rather than an automatic reaction, as often happens. 


This post is for general informational and educational purposes only. I encourage readers to see my full disclaimer here.


What causes dog ear infections?

Consider whether what you’re seeing in your dog is actually an ear “infection” at all. 

It can be a simple build-up of ear wax or secretions. In this case, it’s your dog’s body using the ear to excrete toxins or wastes. 

Yeast and bacteria are normally present on the skin of our dogs (and ourselves). If there’s an overgrowth, it didn’t happen for no reason. The microbes feed on the waste that your dog’s body has secreted through the ear. When the toxins stop coming out, the microbes will fall back to normal numbers. 

In actual fact, a temporarily messy ear can actually be a sign of detox, and on the other side of it will be better health. 

Check out this piece for a list of other signs of detox in dogs. 

The point is, don’t worry so much about the bacteria or yeast. Don’t mistake general “muck” for a dog ear infection symptom. 

Concentrate on identifying the underlying cause that has resulted in your dog needing to use the ear to eliminate waste. Junk in, junk out. Clean up your dog’s diet and minimize toxic exposures to avoid recurrent ear problems.  

Dog is shaking head a lot. Does my dog have ear infection?

Shiva has done this. One day he might just wake up and be holding his head to one side and shaking his head a lot, maybe scratching that ear. 

In the past I would have leapt to the conclusion that I had a dog with ear infection symptoms. 

But now I know this is usually just a build up of wax. What does dog ear wax look like? Shiva’s is dark brown to black and, well, waxy. If that’s what’s going on, just wipe the ear out to remove the debris and the head shaking should stop. 

Colloidal silver can be used to clean dog ears
If you must put something in your dog’s ear.

How to clean my dog’s ears 

Really you don’t need to clean your dog’s ears with anything other than a soft cloth. 

You can use a cotton pad meant for makeup removing. But a clean soft cloth is better because it won’t leave any fibres inside your dog’s ear.

What to clean dog’s ears with

If you want to moisten a cotton pad with something, colloidal silver is gentler than just about every other option.

It does have antimicrobial and anti fungal properties. In fact, colloidal silver has been used in medical settings for that reason. 

Some people even ingest colloidal silver, so it won’t do any harm just applied externally. 

But you don’t want the inside of a dog’s ear to be wet. It should be nice and dry with healthy-looking, not flaky, skin.

How often should I clean my dog’s ear? 

Ordinarily in a healthy dog, ear cleaning is not necessary. 

If your dog has been on medication or is exposed to a lot of toxins (chemical wormers and flea and tick preventatives for instance) then you might see him pushing gunk out through his ears. This is part of the body’s natural detox mechanism.

Don’t clean your dog’s ears unnecessarily. 

Keep an eye on your dog’s ears. Regular inspections will get him used to having his ears fussed with and your fingers put inside, which will help if he ever has a serious problem than needs attending to. If you spot any build up of gunk, just wipe it out. 

Dog ear infection natural remedy

When you google “dog ear infection yeast home remedy” or “dog has ear infection can’t afford vet” you will find all sorts of suggestions for dog ear infection treatment at home. Please ignore them. 

Irritated dog ear after ear cleaner applied
Irritation from a popular ear cleaning product

Things that don’t belong in your dog’s ear include:

  • Hydrogen peroxide 
  • Apple cider vinegar 
  • Soapy water 
  • Essential oils 
  • Witch hazel 
  • Ear cleaning solutions
  • Steroid/antibiotic ear drops

How to clean dog ears with vinegar? Simple. Don’t. How to clean dog ears with hydrogen peroxide? Same answer. 

(By the way, peroxide is also used for killing fungus gnats in the soil of house plants. It’s no good for that either. You know why? It kills the gnats but also damages the plant roots. You don’t want this stuff in your dog’s ear.)

There is a whole industry built around selling you products to stick in your dog’s ear to keep it healthy or “clean”. But in a properly functioning body, the ears are self-cleaning.  

You don’t need potions or pills. These suppress symptoms but do nothing to fix the underlying cause. These products can themselves cause irritation — as you see in the picture of Shiva’s ear.

In conclusion

When it comes to dog ear cleaning DIY or how to clean dog’s ears at home, keep it simple.

Don’t do it at all — unless there is a build-up of wax or debris that is bothering your dog. In that case, use only a clean soft cloth or cotton pad. Hell, you can even use a finger nail to gently scrape out gunk. 

Colloidal silver is the gentlest thing you can use to moisten the cloth, if you need to. 

If your dog’s ear becomes super painful or doesn’t clear up with simple wiping out, consider whether something else might be going on. For instance, if you have a dog shaking head constantly, could something be stuck in there? 

As always: I am not a veterinarian and the information here reflects my personal experience with my dog. It is not intended to replace medical advice. 

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