It’s true, your dog’s ears need regular care and consideration — in addition to ear rubs, of course. Read on for quick tips to care for your dog’s ears and signs there may be an issue.

Arguably the silkiest and softest pup feature (and don’t even get us started on Basset Hound ears), your dog’s ears cry out to be pet. So while you’re at it, take this time to inspect these adorable appendages to make sure they’re healthy, clean and dry. Here are a few tips from Vikki Boyd, Certified Dog Trainer, and grooming expert, on what to watch for:


Floppy-eared dogs like hounds, poodles, and spaniels can get moisture trapped in the ears, often resulting in painful infections. Plucking the ear fur for better ventilation is no longer the recommended route to avoid infections. Your vet can suggest the best approach for infection-prone ears. But you should check for waxy buildup, matted hair, redness, dirt or foreign objects, in or around the ear canal.


Take a quick sniff of your doggie’s ear. If you pick up a strong or strange scent, your nose knows something isn’t right. Call your vet for an ear exam at once.


After swimming, it’s a good idea to rinse your dogs’ ears with a drying solution. Never use a Q-tip or other instrument, just squirt the recommended amount of Oti-Rinse or Oti-Foam into the ear canal and massage it in to loosen debris that your dog can shake out. Since powders can clog the ear, it’s best to only use these at your vet’s advice.

Know thy dog

Sometimes all the obvious signs aren’t there, but your dog keeps rubbing his ears with a paw or on the carpet or whimpers when you pet them. If you suspect your pup has an earache, don’t wait. Get him to the vet to keep his adorable little ears healthy, clean and perked straight up whenever you say “treat.”

Regular check-ups

Establish a routine of regular ear checking and cleaning – at least once a week.  And make sure to promptly deliver a tasty reward when done.

The Scoop:

Dog lovers with pups with occasional ear infections turn to Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone, with more than 6,000 5-star reviews on

Thank you to Vikki Boyd, CPDT Certified Dog Trainer, Behavior Consultant and Groomer from for the tip.

Originally published January 2009; reviewed and updated November 2016.