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How To Clean a Golden Retriever’s Ears: Step-by-Step Guide

Written by: Jessica Kim

Last Updated on June 4, 2024 by Dogster Team

Man is cleaning the dog's ears

How To Clean a Golden Retriever’s Ears: Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning out a Golden Retriever’s ears is an extremely vital part of its grooming routine. Since Golden Retrievers have long, floppy ears, they’re more susceptible to ear infections. Cleaning out a dog’s ears every other week will help keep them dry, prevent irritating and painful infections, and save you from making trips to the vet clinic. Here’s how to incorporate this important practice into your Golden Retriever’s grooming routine.

Before You Begin

There are a few essential supplies you’ll need before you begin cleaning your Golden Retriever’s ears:

Ear cleaning can feel uncomfortable and very foreign to dogs. It can startle them the first few times you do it. So, it’s best to start this practice in increments and with your Golden Retriever’s favorite treats.

Start by letting your dog get used to touching its ears. You can massage the base of its ears and give it treats every time you do it. Then, apply the motion of using the ear cleaner without having the cap open. Place the tip of the ear cleaner against your dog’s inner ear and give treats every time you do this. This will help your dog get used to being around the ear cleaner.

Lastly, many dogs will shake their heads after you apply ear cleaner to their ear. So, make sure you’re situated in a place where you can easily wipe up any ear cleaner that drips on the floor.

How to Clean a Golden Retriever’s Ears in 5 Steps

1. Examine Ear for Redness or Inflammation

Before you pour ear cleaner into your Golden Retriever’s ear, check for any redness or inflammation. Pouring an ear-cleaning solution on an infected ear can be very painful for dogs and worsen the irritation.

Other signs of an infection include brown, yellow, or bloody discharge. You might see scabs and swelling and smell odor in the ear. Your dog may also keep shaking its head, rubbing its ear against furniture or carpet, and scratching at the infected area.

If your dog has an ear infection, don’t proceed with cleaning out its ear. Consult with your veterinarian first as your dog may need a medicated ear cleaner or antibiotics instead.

Interior of dog’s ear being held open for cleaning
Photo Credit: 9gifts, Shutterstock

2. Position Your Dog and Hold Up Ear Flap

If your dog’s ears are ready to be cleaned, position your dog in a comfortable position and hold up one ear flap. Some dogs will prefer you to sit in front. Others may require you to stand behind them and position them between your legs to prevent them from escaping, especially if they are new to ear cleaning. If your dog is particularly squirmy, ask a friend or family member to help you keep your dog still or distract it with treats.

3. Fill Ear Canal with Ear Cleaner

Once your dog is in position, shake the ear cleaner and pour a generous amount into the ear. The entire ear canal should be filled with the cleaner, and some liquid can spill out. Check to see if the cleaner drains into the ear. You can move the ear flap around a little bit to encourage the fluid to funnel into the ear.

4. Massage Base of the Ear

Massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds to 1 minute. This will help the cleaner to reach deeper parts of the ear to dislodge debris. When massaging your dog’s ear, make sure that you have a firm yet gentle grip on its ear flap. This will help your dog resist shaking its head.

Photo Credit: archimede, Shutterstock

5. Wipe Debris from the Surface of the Ear

You may notice some debris near the surface of the ear. You can wipe it down using a large cotton ball or a soft, microfiber towel that won’t scratch your Golden Retriever’s ear. The skin on the ear is delicate, so be extra careful with wiping it down.

Never use a thin cotton swab to clean your dog’s ears or reach deeper into the ear canal. A dog’s ears are extremely sensitive, so touching certain spots may cause it to jerk its head involuntarily. The last thing you want is a cotton swab lodged inside your dog’s ear.

Some dogs may accumulate more debris in their ears than other dogs, so they might need a second round of cleaning. Make sure not to over-clean your dog’s ears, as this can cause irritation and lead to infection.

If you notice debris lodged deep inside your Golden Retriever’s ear, have your vet clean it out instead of trying to do it yourself.

Once your Golden Retriever’s ear is cleaned, you can repeat the same process on the other ear.

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Cleaning your Golden Retriever’s ears may be challenging at first as your dog tries to resist it. However, it’s an important practice that will help prevent ear infections. It’s best to clean out your Golden Retriever’s ears every other week and after any time it swims or takes a bath.

Fortunately, most Golden Retrievers are very food-motivated and eager to please, so after a few practice sessions, they’ll get used to the sensation and become less resistant to ear cleanings.

Featured Image Credit: Kashaeva Irina, Shutterstock

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