How to Clean Labrador Ears: Essential Things to Know

As a Lab owner, one of the things that you have to know about is how to clean Labrador ears.

Ear cleaning is often an overlooked aspect of grooming, especially when Labrador Retrievers’ ears flap, and you can’t really see what’s going on.

However, you need to take good care of your dog’s ears at all times. After all, a Labrador with good hygiene will live a much better life than a Lab that is unkempt.

In this research paper published back in 2017, researchers found that specific breeds have a higher tendency of getting otitis externa, which is a type of ear inflammation.

This predisposition to ear problems makes it even more important for you to know how to clean Labrador ears properly.

On the plus side, some Labradors may not need ear cleaning as much, if at all.

It all depends on the Labrador’s ears’ shape and other factors.

If you’re one of those lucky pet owners, then that’s great for you!

But for those who are not so lucky, read the rest of this article for guidelines on how to clean your Labrador’s ears and how you can make it a comfortable experience for your Lab.

Why do you need to know how to clean Labrador ears?

As previously mentioned, some dogs have naturally clean ears that don’t need a lot of upkeep. But that’s not the case with every dog. Some dogs, especially those with long, floppy ears, may need more attention than others.

Dogs’ ears are generally self-cleaning to an extent. However, you still need to check them to avoid infection or other complications.

Knowing how to regularly clean your Labrador’s ears also helps you check if there are any dog ear problems.

Your Lab’s floppy ears make it more difficult to self-clean, so they can be a breeding ground for undesirables that shouldn’t be in a dog’s ears.

What does a clean and healthy ear look like?

The first step to cleaning your dog’s ear is knowing what a healthy ear looks like.

Before you decide on cleaning the ear, you need to take a look if the ear actually needs cleaning. Otherwise, excessive ear cleaning can lead to irritation.

As a good hallmark, a healthy ear will have no smell about it. So, if you notice an odd odor in your dog’s ears, then it may be time to clean your dog’s ears.

Ear maintenance will be more common in dogs that spend a lot of time in the water. So, if your dog loves to submerge in the water a lot, this may be something you have to consider.

Additionally, a clean dog’s ears will look pinkish and have no signs of inflammation or redness.

So, if you notice an inflammation in your Lab’s ears or if they look red, it may be time to check with your vet for the best dog ear cleaner.

Not all ear problems can be solved with just a cleaning, however. There are situations where you may need to contact your veterinarian to know how to clean a dog’s ears with infection.

This is especially true when your Lab seems to be incredibly uncomfortable or in pain when you handle their ears.

Other signs of an ear problem include the presence of discharge, blood, or excessive debris and ear wax.

However, do take note that a little bit of ear wax in the outer ear is normal and is nothing to be worried about. It’s only when there’s too much ear wax that you may need to check for a homemade Labrador ear cleaning solution.

If your Lab is exhibiting any of these signs, go to your vet as soon as you can. The sooner you can buy a Lab ear cleaner recipe or create a homemade dog ear cleaning solution for your Lab, the sooner you can sort out the problem.

Cleaning materials you can use to know how to clean Labrador ears

At the bare minimum, you will need warm water and some cotton pads to clean the your dog’s outer ears.

However, for a more in-depth cleaning process, you can buy dog ear cleaning solutions in physical stores or online.

Just make sure to always check with your vet first before deciding on a Lab ear cleaner recipe or cleaning brand. Their advice is important to ensure that you pick the right kind for your dog.

To make your Lab more comfortable, you can also include treats in your list of materials for ear cleaning.

Grooming and cleaning can be a messy and uncomfortable business for your dog, so it is important that you make them comfortable.

This way, your Labrador Retriever won’t fuss too much. You will also have a much better time cleaning and grooming.

How to clean Labrador ears

Before starting to clean your Labrador’s ears, you should make your dog comfortable to reduce the chances of accidents.

If your Lab is still a puppy, rest them on your lap and gently handle their head in a way that’s comfortable for them.

On the other hand, if your Labrador is an adult, lay them down next to you and lay their head on your lap.

If your dog is not yet comfortable with the cleaning process, you need to take time for them to adjust.

Don’t jump straight into cleaning your dog’s ears, especially when you know they don’t like it. Instead, slowly ease them by holding their head or ears a bit at a time. This way, they will get accustomed to the feeling.

Some dogs are very particular about this and will not like their ears handled at first. In these situations, you will need patience and to take your time to get them used to it.

How to clean a dog’s outer ears

To clean your Lab’s outer ears, all you have to do is slowly wipe the outer part with warm water and a cotton wipe. Do not use the wipe repeatedly. Otherwise, you will transmit the dirt you just wiped off.

If you have a dog ear cleaning solution, you may also use it to clean the outer ear.

However, you need to remember that it should be something that your vet recommends and approves for your dog.

While using a q-tip or cotton bud to clean the outer part of the ear is fine, we strongly discourage it. You never know if you will accidentally insert it into the ear canal and cause problems. So, it’s best to err on the side of caution and not use it at all.

How to clean a  dog’s inner ears

On the other hand, to clean the inner ear, you will need a dog ear cleaning solution.

Drop the recommended amount of the solution in the ear canal then rub the base of the ear slowly for about half a minute.

You will hear a squelching sound as the liquid breaks down the debris and all other undesirables in your dog’s ears. Remember not to let the tip of the solution bottle touch the ear as this can cause potential problems.

Let your dog shake their ears to remove all the liquid. Moisture that remains in your dog’s ear can cause even more problems, so you need to make sure that their ears are dry after the cleaning process.

You may want to prepare a towel for this purpose to protect yourself from the excess liquid.

Because of this minor mess, it’s best to choose an area that you can easily clean such as the bathroom. A strategic location will help you a lot with cleaning up.


And that pretty much sums everything. Give them a treat afterward as a reward for a job well done!

Your Labrador Retriever will appreciate the treat, and it will turn a grueling job into a positive dog ear cleaning experience.

Knowing how to clean your dog’s ears does not have to be a terrible process. Instead, it can be an enriching experience as long as your dog associates the experience with positive memories.

As a final reminder, however, remember not to clean your dog’s ears too much. This may cause irritation and even more problems down the road. Just keep checking regularly if your dog’s ears need to be cleaned.

Authored By

John Lab

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