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How to Clean a Golden Retriever’s Ears: 4 Vet-Approved Tips

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Golden Retriever getting his ears cleaned

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Paola Cuevas

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The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you have a Golden Retriever, you know they’re active and full of energy. Goldens love adventure and having fun outdoors. All that playtime leads to your dog’s ears getting dirty, which should be cleaned regularly.

Those long, floppy ears on your Golden are prone to some issues like irritations and infections caused by moisture and dirt that gets under the ears and even inside them. Instead of waiting for signs of trouble to clean your Golden Retriever’s ears, make it a set routine to keep the ears healthy and clean.

In this article, we’re going to walk you through the steps involved with cleaning your Golden’s ears, so you know how to do it correctly. We’ll begin by telling you how to prep your dog so that they know what to expect during an ear cleaning.

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Before You Start

The earlier you begin this routine, the better. So, if you have a pup or a new Golden rescue, get busy preparing your dog for regular ear cleanings to make the entire process easier for both you and your beloved pooch.

The 4 Tips to Clean a Golden Retriever’s Ears

1. Prep Your Golden for Ear Cleanings

Preparing your Golden Retriever for ear cleanings involves your touch.  At least once a day, run your hands all over your dog’s body starting with the top of the head and ears down to the mouth area, neck, body, leg, paws, and tail. The goal is to keep your dog calm, so they don’t resist or pull away as you’re touching them.

Once your Golden is used to your touch, cleaning those big floppy ears of theirs will be much easier. Be sure to give your Golden a tasty doggie treat for being such a good dog during the prep work stage.

Golden retriever dogs lying on floor_
Image Credit: Tatyana Vyc, Shutterstock

2. Gather Your Ear Cleaning Supplies

Once you are confident your Golden is used to you touching their ears, it’s time to gather the supplies you will need to do a proper ear cleaning. Pick up a package of pre-moistened dog ear wipes along with some disposable gloves for you to wear.

Do not be tempted to use cotton swabs on your dog’s ears—no matter what. Too many things can go wrong when you use a cotton swab. For example, it’s easy for your hand to slip and penetrate deeply inside the ear to do some real damage. Cotton swabs have no business being used for ear cleanings, and that goes for both your dog and you!

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3. Carefully Clean the Outside and Inside of the Ears

When you are ready to begin, start with one ear and hold the ear flap while massaging the base for about 30 seconds. This will help loosen wax and other debris from inside your dog’s ear. Then, simply take a dog ear wipe and remove any debris from the inside flap and the upper canal of the ear.

Allow your dog to shake their head, as it’s a natural way to get leftover debris out of the inner canal. Finish up by holding the ear flap and cleaning it again using an ear wipe.

Be mindful never to penetrate any further into your dog’s ear than what your finger can reach. Once you have the first ear clean, give your dog a treat and tell them they’re a good boy or girl. Then, simply move onto the other ear and do the same thing.

male hands cleaning the ear of golden retriever dog
Image By: Kashaeva Irina, Shutterstock

4. Keep an Eye Out for Problems

As you’re cleaning your dog’s ears, take a good look to see if there is any excessive ear discharge present that may be abnormal. If you see a discharge that smells bad, get in touch with your veterinarian right away for an appointment to find out if your dog has an ear infection.

There are many causes of ear infections in dogs, like fungal or bacterial buildup, yeast, ear mites, tumors, polyps, and even foreign objects that get lodged inside the ear.

Numerous symptoms can indicate your dog has an ear infection, including:
  • An offensive odor coming from the ear
  • Yellowish, brownish, or bloody ear discharge
  • Swelling of the ear
  • Redness inside the ear
  • Head shaking or tilting
  • Excessive scratching

If your vet does diagnose an ear infection, they will clean your dog’s ears with a medicated cleanser. It’s also possible that an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medication will be prescribed to treat the ear infection. You may even receive a prescription for a topical medication to apply to your dog’s ear at home.

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Prevention Is the Key to Healthy Dog Ears

Prevention is always the way to go when it comes to your dog’s ear health. The best way you can help your dog avoid getting an ear infection is to keep their ears clean and dry. On top of that, you should clean your dog’s ears out every few weeks to remove dirt, grime, excess wax, and debris.

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Final Thoughts

Just like brushing your dog and clipping his nails, those big, floppy ears on your Golden Retriever need some attention now and then. Take the time to clean your dog’s ears every few weeks to keep them in tip-top shape.

See also:

Featured Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

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