My one-year-old Labrador hates having his ears cleaned. What’s the best way to do this?

James Farrell advises…

Dogs with long ears are more prone to sweaty ears, and so keeping them clean is a good idea to prevent infection (especially after swimming). For regular cleaning, use a recommended product from your vet. Most plain ear cleaners are alcohol based, which helps to dry the ear once physically cleaned and so removes the sweaty environment that bacteria love.

Ideally, you should teach your dog to accept his ears being touched with training and positive rewards while he’s still a puppy. Older dogs will often still respond to treats, though! Start by using plain cotton wool, slightly dampened with some lukewarm water (no cleaner at this stage, as it’s very cold when the alcohol evaporates), and pack into the canal with your little finger (make sure your nails are short to avoid scratching the sensitive ear canal). Then twist it round in the canal and remove. Do not use a cotton bud, as this can go too far into the ear. Much wax can be removed by simply using this method.

Once your dog is more accepting of this, then apply a small amount of cleaner down each ear canal, so it travels towards the base, and massage gently for 10-15 seconds with lots of positive praise. Then clean out with the cotton wool as described above. Do this once a week, or as directed by your vet.


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