Dog Ear Care: Staying On Top Of The Ears—Cookie Is Not Impressed

Should one clean their dog’s ears regularly?

I am one of the people who don’t like fixing what isn’t broken. I don’t bathe my dog unless they need it and I don’t fuss with their ears unless there is a problem. Some dogs do need regular ear cleaning, though—especially if they are prone to ear infections—quite frequently.

Further information: Instructions for Ear Cleaning in Dogs

Don’t forget though, that frequent ear infection reflect an underlying problem. It is best to address the cause than trying to treat the ears only.

Dog Ear Care: Staying On Top Of The Ears

My dogs ever had an ear infection. During her last wellness exam, however, Cookie’s veterinarian noted an extra accumulation of ear wax.

Cookie’s ears

They were fine on the previous exams, but this time they had excess wax. Because there was nothing wrong with them before, they don’t smell and don’t seem to bother her; the theory is that the wax build-up is from the way she and JD play. Their play involves nibbling and grabbing of the ears.

Regardless of the cause, we decided to give the ears additional care to prevent any brewing problems. Excess ear wax is a breeding ground for infections.

Ceruminous exudate

Cleaning dog ears

The doctor’s orders were daily cleaning until all clear, then as needed or once a week.

Here is something people often don’t realize—to clean them properly, the ears need to be flooded with the ear cleaning fluid.

Diligent owners as we’re trying to be, we got right on it. With Jasmine being quite accepting of pretty much anything we did to her, we didn’t think twice about it and just went ahead to do it.

An unimpressed Cookie

Cookie was not at all happy with that idea and it was stressing her out. What now? I did not want to traumatize Cookie.

She does already get her teeth brushed, and we did start conditioning her for nail trims and baths. Ears never even crossed our minds, though.

Clever advice to make ear cleaning less unpleasant

That night I got hold of my dog training friend, Donna Hill for advice.

What can we do that works fast enough? As we do want to take care of those ears, but without traumatizing Cookie.

Warm-up the solution

Her first, and most amazing, the suggestion was warming up the solution.

Wow, so simple, and so ingenious. I did confirm with the vet that the solution we’re using is ok being warmed up and he not only approved it but said it was a kind thing to do. And according to our observations, it really did make a difference for Cookie.

We warm it up in a warm water bath, just to bring it to about body temperature.


Right, that night I also started on some conditioning.

We were working on conditioning to look at, touch and then being touched by the bottle. Fortunately, we were already working on the Look at That, so Cookie knew what the idea was. I also included manipulating her ears, even though under normal circumstances having them touched and handled doesn’t bother her.

We did several sessions that night and several during the day. As many as we could fit in.


The second cleaning went over much better. Not that she was happy about it, but wasn’t trying to get away and was fairly calm about it.

We kept working on it and the next day she took it calmly. Her emotional state when having it done was acceptable to me.

I would have never thought that this could be achieved so quickly!

We’ve been doing it for a week and are now at the point that when she sees it coming (and she does see it coming), her reaction is about “Again? Don’t you guys have anything better to do?”

Post-cleaning zoomies

Our second challenge with this was what ensued right after the procedure. The vet warned us that she will go crazy, and that’s exactly what she did.

I do think that warming up the solution helps somewhat with that too.

But what we had on our hands was equal to a tornado moving through the house. That would be all fine, except she could get hurt.


Besides warming up the solution, the answer to that problem turned out quite simple—a Kong, filled with something very yummy, that lasts long enough for Cookie to forget about the ears. She will shake them off, but then she’ll return back to the Kong.

Cookie’s ear cleaning is no longer the end of the world either for her nor for the house.

Related articles:
Angry Vet On Ear Infections: Deciphering Ear Problems in Dogs

Further reading:
Instructions for Ear Cleaning in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsEar infections

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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