How To Clean Your Golden Retriever’s Ears (Step By Step)

Want to learn the best way to clean your Golden’s ears?

To clean your Golden Retriever’s ears, pull the ear flap up and away from their head, fill the ear canal with a vet-approved ear cleaner, massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds, let them shake it out, then wipe away any wax or debris.

Your dog probably likes getting her ears cleaned as much you like getting your tonsils checked, so for many dogs, this is easier said than done.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to clean your Golden’s ears step by step
  • 4 tips to make cleaning their ears easier
  • 4 common mistakes that many dog owners make when cleaning their pet’s ears

But before you start cleaning their ears, you first need to know when to clean them…

When & How Often To Clean Your Golden Retriever’s Ears

how to clean golden retrievers ear

The problem with Golden Retriever ears is that they’re floppy and fuzzy.

Yes, they’re very cute, but they easily trap moisture, dirt, and heat, which makes perfect breeding grounds for infections and mites.

On top of that, the outer part of your dog’s ear canal is vertical, so it’s harder for moisture and debris to get out.

Because of this, you’ll need to clean their ears regularly.

You should clean your Golden Retriever’s ears once or twice per month, depending on how clean they are, and whether or not they’ve been swimming, had a bath, or rolled around in the dirt recently.

If your dog swims, then you may need to clean their ears more often because water can easily get trapped in their ears.

At the very least — dry their ears after swimming or bath time.

Allergies are another problem that can cause ear irritation (earritation?) and lead you to cleaning their ears more often.

Just be careful that you don’t clean them too often, as that can actually lead to ear infections, too.

And speaking of ear infections, here are some warning signs to look out for:

  • Bad odor
  • Their ears are painful and sensitive to the touch
  • Shaking their head
  • Scratching their ears or rubbing them on the floor
  • Redness
  • Scabs or crustiness
  • Dark discharge

If they have any of these signs, call your vet and have them take a look.

And you can read this article to learn more about ear infections in Golden Retrievers.

How To Clean Your Golden Retriever’s Ears Step By Step

Below are step by step instructions for how to clean your Golden Retriever’s ears.

Gather Your Supplies

All you need to clean your Golden’s ears are:

  1. Ear cleaner
  2. Cotton balls or gauze
  3. Towel

We use this Dechra MalAcetic ear cleaner, but talk to your vet to see what they recommend.

Get Your Dog In Position

You’ll be filling your dog’s ear with liquid, so you’ll need to get them in a position where you can control their head and keep them from shaking it out too early.

Plus, most dogs don’t exactly love getting their ears cleaned, so you might also need to put them in a spot where they can’t run away before you’re done.

Here are two options:

  1. Have them sit, then stand over them behind them with their body between your legs.
  2. Have them sit in a corner facing you. This is better for dogs who try to escape during this process.

Another option is to have a partner hold your pup while you’re cleaning their ears, which is a lot easier.

Pull Their Ear Flap Up And Away From Their Head

Pulling the ear flap up will expose their ear canal so you can put the cleaner in it.

Gently pulling it a little bit out away from their head will open up the canal so the cleaner can get in there and do its job.

Fill The Ear Canal With Cleaning Solution

Fill your dog’s ear canal with the ear cleaner, but be sure to not rub the tip of the bottle in your dog’s ear — you could accidentally get bacteria inside there.

Massage The Base Of The Ear For 30 Seconds

Once you’ve put the ear cleaner inside of their ear, massage just below the opening of the ear to move around the liquid and loosen up any debris or wax in there.

You should hear a swishing sound as you do this.

Be sure to keep control of their head so they don’t shake it out too early, and focus more on massaging upwards to get any gunk up and out of their ear.

Let Your Dog Shake Out The Cleaner

By now your dog is more than ready to get the liquid out of there, so let them shake to their heart’s content.

This is where the towel comes in handy!

Wipe Away Any Extra Wax Or Debris With A Cotton Ball

After they’ve shaken their heads, wipe any extra visible gunk off with your cotton ball.

Give them some treats and praise, and do the same process with the other ear.

Pro Tips To Make Cleaning Your Golden Retriever’s Ears Easier

golden retriever ear cleaning

If your Golden is anything like mine, they’re definitely not a fan of getting their ears cleaned.

I can’t blame him — I’d hate to have someone pour liquid into my ear!

To make things a little easier, here are four tips:

Start Early

Get your dog used to getting their ears touched and cleaned as early as possible.

When they’re a puppy, rub and open their ears regularly so they’re used to it by the time you actually need to clean them.

The point of handling their ears early is to avoid getting yourself in a position where your fully-grown adult Golden refuses to let anyone near his ears because they’ve never been handled before.

Get A Partner

Having a partner to help control your dog or wield the towel when they start shaking is a game-changer.

Make It Fun

Use a happy voice, praise your dog for being a good boy or girl, and give them lots of treats to make this potentially miserable experience a little more enjoyable.

Clean Their Ears When They’re Calm

My Golden calms down at around 8:30 pm every night, so that’s when we clean his ears.

Don’t try to keep them still and pour ear cleaner down their ear holes when they’re about to have the zoomies.

Common Mistakes When Cleaning Your Golden Retriever’s Ears

Cleaning your dog’s ears is a simple process — use a vet-approved ear cleaner and cotton balls to clean them once or twice a month.

When people stray from these instructions is usually when they start making mistakes.

Here are four common ear cleaning mistakes to avoid:

Using Something Other Than A Vet-Approved Ear Cleaner

Some people suggest using vinegar, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide to clean their dog’s ears — this is a big no-no.

According to Banfield Pet Hospital, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide will leave your dog’s ear moist, while alcohol will irritate it.

Using Q-Tips

Q-Tips can damage your dog’s ears if they shake their head while you’re poking around in there.

Cotton balls and gauze are softer and less likely to damage their ears.

Cleaning Their Ears Too Often

Cleaning your dog’s ears too often can lead to irritation and even infection.

If your dog has lots of wax or redness, talk to your vet and see if there’s an infection or an underlying cause of this, like allergies.

Keeping Your Golden Retriever’s Ears Clean

golden retriever ear care

By following the steps in this article, you can keep your Golden’s ears clean and healthy.

Have any questions about cleaning your dog’s ears?

Let us know down in the comments!

And if you liked this article, check out this post about how to groom your Golden Retriever step by step.

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