Does Cleaning My Dog’s Ears Save Money?

Are you like and always searching for ways to save on your dog costs, while providing your pup high-quality care? Sometimes I’m amazed at how little things can make a big difference. Today, let’s dig into how cleaning your dog’s ears can save you money while keeping your pup healthy.

shocking way that cleaning your dog's ears saves a lot of money and keeps your dog healthy
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Budget tip:

The great part about cleaning your dog’s ears at home is that you keep your dog healthy. Of course, that is the most important part. But in doing so, you reduce the probability of your dog getting an ear infection, needing to visit the vet more, and get antibiotics. Thus, you keep your dog’s costs in check while keeping your dog healthy. What could be better?

Why should I clean dog’s ears?

Not surprisingly keeping your dog’s ears clean, dry, and free of excess ear wax and debris means a healthier dog. When you neglect your dog’s ears and dirt, wax, or debris build-up, it can lead to an ear infection. When an ear infection happens, that means a vet visit, bill, and medication to treat it. Plus, your dog is uncomfortable and in pain with the infection. Basically, all good dog parents want their dogs healthy and their vet bills low. Cleaning your dog’s ears at home is a cheap and easy way to meet this goal. 

How often should I clean my pup’s ears?

This will really depend on a few things. As a general rule of thumb (or paw) most veterinarians will suggest at least once a month is a good idea to clean your dog’s ears. However, you may need to clean your dog’s ear more often if your dog: 

  • Swims
  • Has floppy ears or droopy ears
  • Is prone to chronic ear infections or has an ear problem

For example, my dog, Henry has floppy ears or droopy ears. He’s a Cockapoo. and his cocker spaniel DNA has a big impact on the floppy ears. Thus, it’s recommended he should have his ears cleaned more often. Plus, his fur is very thick and wants to grow into his ears. However, to be honest, with a simple wipe out and trim every 10 days or so, his ears are in great shape. This was not the same for my dogs with upright ears. They were more prone to constantly dirty ears. This may also be the same for adopted dogs with cropped ears.

You’ll get to know your dog’s ears and his or her needs.

Who can clean my dog’s ears?

There are a few people you can call upon to clean your dog’s ears. They are:

Your groomer. Most dog groomers will include ear cleaning as part of their service.

Your vet or vet tech. If your dog is going in for a check-up, you can always ask to have his or her ears cleaned or checked as well. Although cleaning is an additional charge. 

You. Yes, you can clean your dog’s ears safely.

Can I clean my furry kid’s ears at home?

Yes. You can even ask your vet to give you a walk-through of the process when you go in for a checkup.

What do I need to clean my dog’s ears at home?

You can buy pre-made ear cleaner solutions at your local pet store. Most of these are just fine. You can even ask your vet for a recommendation. 

Additionally, there are only a few items you’ll need:

1. Treats. This helps keep your dog occupied during the cleaning process.

2. Oil (or store-bought cleaning solution). For DIY purposes the oil recommended is generally olive, mineral, and almond. It’s the ear cleaning product. However, as mentioned earlier you can buy a great dog ear wash at your pet store. 

3. Syringe. This is mostly if you’re using oil as your dog’s ear cleaner solution. If you’re using a store-cleaning solution, this probably won’t be necessary.

4. Cotton balls. These are used to wipe your dog’s ears clean after applying your ear cleaner of choice (oil or store-bought cleaning solution). 

5. Towel. A towel is great to wipe your dog’s ears after applying the oil or cleaning product. It will remove any loose wax or debris. Additionally, a towel can be used to wipe any other spots the oil or cleaning product was spread such as the floor or other parts of your dog. 

How do I clean my furry buddy’s ears at home?

This can be messing. So, you may want to do this in an area where it’s easy to clean or won’t be an issue if oil should spill. Perhaps the bathroom or even outside. 

Additionally, you may want to ask someone to help you hold your dog. If you’ve ever had ear drops, then you know that tickly feeling isn’t fun. Some dogs don’t like it. Most dogs will shake their heads.

However, some dogs are very comfortable with the process. For instance, Henry will sit patiently and wait without shaking during the cleaning. 

Although, for most dogs, you will want to distract them with treats during the cleaning process. Make sure you have plenty of treats and praise your dog along the way. Also, I always like to let Henry smell everything before I do anything to him. It’s kind of like the doctor telling you he’s going to stick a cold stethoscope on your back before he does it. I think it’s just good etiquette.

Here are the steps to easily clean your dog’s ears as recommended by Dr. Marty:

1. Oil drops. Place a few drops on the outside of the ear canal.

2. Shake. Wait for your dog to shake his or her head to disperse the oil. If your dog doesn’t shake, then massage the ears a bit. Do this on the outer ear. Henry loves a good ear massage, which helps to disperse the oil cleaning solution. 

NOTE: Be careful, because when your dog shakes the oil or ear cleaning solution can go everywhere. 

3. Wipe. With the cotton balls or towel simply wipe out your dog’s ears and clean up any mess that the shaking may have caused. 

What do I look for when my dog’s ears need to be seen by a vet?  

When you’re cleaning your dog’s ears your goal is to avoid an ear infection. However, there may be other ear issues you discover as you are inspecting your pup’s ears. There are some issues that you will need to visit your vet for help. Specifically, these include:

  • Discharge from your dog’s ears
  • Red skin
  • Bumps on the skin
  • Swelling of the ears
  • Painful ears
  • Rash or crusty ears
  • Inflammation of the area around the ears
  • Ear mites (little bugs)
  • Bad odor coming from the ears

While some of these symptoms maybe be a sign of an infected ear they may also indicate an allergy. This is why you will need to seek the medical attention of your vet. 

What do I want to avoid with my dog’s ears? 

I love this question. While dog parents try to be proactive, there are also things to know in the “don’t do” column. Here’s what to know and avoid with your dog’s ears:

Keep them dry. Always dry them thoroughly after bathing and swimming.

Trim ear fur. While some hair may help to keep the ears free of debris, fur can also contribute to bringing in dirt or encourage more ear wax growth. As an example, Henry’s fur can become an “ear cover”, if not trimmed frequently. While it may keep debris out, it also disrupts his hearing. 

No vinegar. While some dog parents may suggest vinegar as a DIY, it can be an issue if your dog has an ear infection. Think of you putting vinegar on an open wound. OUCH! 

Hydrogen Peroxide is a no too. Many vets discourage hydrogen peroxide because while it can kill bad bacteria, it can also kill good bacteria. My theory is always that if there’s a chance for something to wrong, stay away from it. 

Cotton swabs aren’t for ears. Yep, these little swabs can cause more damage than good. Definitely never put them in your dog’s ears. Also, keep in mind that some dogs will try to eat anything, so keep these swabs up and out of your dog’s reach so there’s no choking accident.  

How much can I save by cleaning my dog’s ears at home?

This can vary widely by area. As a general rule of thumb, a veterinarian charges in the neighborhood of $50 for cleaning a dog’s ears. However, that doesn’t include the basic vet visit, which for my area is $65. But a vet tech may be less expensive. Additionally, this doesn’t include an ear infection treatment or antibiotics. 

With these costs in mind, and if you consider cleaning your dog’s ears on the recommended monthly basis, then the savings can be remarkable. 

$50 cleaning + $65 basic visit x 12 = $1380 yearly amount

NOTE: A groomer can clean your dog’s ears generally at a much lower cost. However, if there is an ear infection they cannot treat it. You can expect a dog groomer to charge in the neighborhood of $12 for cleaning your dog’s ears without grooming. 

For me, I’d rather save that money in Henry’s emergency fund, his dog savings account, or apply it toward a fun holiday together. 

By cleaning my dog's ears at home I save enough to apply to something fun like a trip or something sensible like an emergency fund.
I’m certain Henry votes for a fun holiday.

NOTE: Some pet insurance will pay for the cleaning of pets’ ears. But you’ll need to check with your pet insurance for any disqualifications or limitations. 

I’m not comfortable with cleaning my dog’s ears, what can I do?

Some dogs are big, small, high energy, or have an ear sensitivity, which can make cleaning their ears at home more difficult. However, there are options, such as:

Ask a friend, family, or in your dog community for help

Talk to your groomer about only an ear cleaning between grooming appointments. The good part about your groomer doing the cleaning is that your dog can be contained on the grooming table and your groomer is used to the procedure. 

Ask for a vet tech to do the cleaning rather than the vet, this will reduce the cost while still getting your dog’s ears cleaned by a qualified professional.

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Summary of does cleaning my dog’s ear save money

I’m always intrigued by how simple little actions can make a big difference. Such as cleaning Henry’s ears. Not only does it mean he’s healthier, but it means I cut my dog costs. It’s easy and even with Henry and his floppy ears and thick hair, it doesn’t take that much time and he has healthy ears. Yet the returns for him and my pocketbook are remarkable. 

easy way that cleaning your dog's ears saves a lot of money

Do you clean your dog’s ears at home? Will you try now that you know you can save so much money? 

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About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

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