How to Clean Golden Retriever Ears at Home?

You have come here searching for a solution for your Golden dog’s ears. You have come to the right place. On this website, I write about issues with dogs and in this article, I shall be giving complete information on cleanliness issues with retriever dog breeds. If you see anything unusual with the ears of your retriever then you shouldn’t ignore it and in fact, should be investigating it further.

For cleaning the ears of retrievers, check their ears from outside and then immediate inside of the ear. This would give you any visible signs of infection in their ears. There are dog ear solutions available in the market which you can use for cleaning the ears. Usually, they have instructions printed on the pack but you can also use cotton damped with the solution to clean the ear. After the ear is wet, you can let the dog shake his body to get rid of excess solution from his ears.

Just think about it in the following way, if you ignore any visible signs of problem then you are inviting loss of hearing in the future. Thus give little attention daily to a dog’s ears can save a lot of hassle down the road.

But I have to say that many Golden Retriever owners would skip ears when it comes to grooming their dogs. This article is my way of making the regular readers of this website aware of problems that can occur in their dog’s ears.

How to Handle Your Golden Retriever Puppy

While it is a good idea to start good habits with your dog at a young age, cleaning a full-grown dog’s ears can be a challenge; let alone cleaning the ears of a puppy. Although puppies are easier to hold with one hand while you work on their ear with the other.

When you are cleaning your puppy’s ear, I have found that the best way to handle them is to make them feel safe by sitting in your lap, with one arm supporting a paw while the other reaches around behind their head to the ear.

This will make them feel safe, but having an arm behind there heads will also show them that this is the time to be submissive and that you know what is best. As with all aspects of having a puppy, it is very important to have patience while cleaning their ears.

If you can’t do it all in one sitting, that is perfectly fine. This can be a stressful situation for you both, and it is best to come back later rather than get frustrated and have that keep both of you from having any desire to perform the cleaning process in the future.

Start With Touching and Inspecting Your Pup

While on your lap, you can now start to reassure your puppy and use gentle tones so that they know they are in a completely safe space during this process. Stroking their head, or rubbing the outside of their ears is a great way to accomplish this.

Once you feel like they are calm and content, you can now start the process of inspecting their ears by lifting them up and looking for any signs of dirt, discoloration, or swelling. (Now would be a good time to inspect their other areas of interest, as well; as they feel safe and in a submissive position).

This would also be a great time to trim the hair around their ear or to clip their nails. Just keep in mind that if you wish to do either of those, it would be advised to have a towel on your lap for easy clean-up.

Reasons for Dirty Ears in Dogs

Golden Retriever Ear Shape

Due to the natural curvature of the dog’s ears, it is easy for parasites, bacteria, and yeast to find their way to their ear canals, and either get trapped or decide to call the canal their new home.

Although all dogs are prone to getting dirty and grime stuck in their ears, breeds with floppy ears such as Cocker Spaniels and Poodles, are more prone to infections and have dirtier ears in general. Dogs can get dirty ears the same way that humans can; it is very easy for dust and dirt to collect on somewhere that is primarily stationary on a body.

(Although humans won’t be found rolling around in grass or dirt quite as often as a dog will). Also unlike humans, dogs can’t simply clean their ears themselves. the only time that a dog’s ear might be clean without you having to do any work is if they have been in the water all day, but that is rare.

Your Retriever’s Environment

The region can also play a roll in how dirty your dog’s ears are, and how quickly it took to get so. For instance, if you and your Golden live in a region that is dustier, they will, of course, be more prone to have dust collect in their ears.

Golden Retrievers especially are always digging in the dirt and rolling around in basically anything that they can find. Even just running through brush (which they love to do), can cause your Retriever to pick up dirt and grime in their ears.

As we all know, Retrievers love to swim. There can be debris floating in the water that can also find it’s way to your dog’s ears and get dislodged in there. After swimming, it would be a good idea to make sure that their ears are clean and free of any dirt or grime.

Dirty Ears in Retriever Dog

Health Issues Due to Dirty Ears

The most common health issue that dogs can experience because of having dirty ears is, of course, ear infections. There are several causes for ear infection in dogs; such as too much yeast, ear mites in the canal, or bacteria. (If you clean your dog’s ears regularly and still notice an excess of ear infections, this can be attributed to allergies or hereditary causes).

Dogs with heavy, floppy ears will be more prone to infections due to the fact that it is easier for moisture to build up.

While dogs (Golden Retrievers especially) have excellent hearing, if their ear canal is plugged due to being dirty, this can affect their long-term and short term hearing as well. While not directly a cause of having dirty ears, if your dog is constantly scratching at their ear because it itches due to dirt, they may end up over-scratching and injuring themselves.

Ear infections when left unchecked can lead to more serious health issues, such as eventual deafness as well as lack of coordination and facial paralysis.

Symptoms That Show That Golden Retriever is Ready for Ear Cleaning

There are plenty of signs that will be an indicator to you that your Retriever is ready for his or her ears to be cleaned. Excessive scratching is always the top indicator, but there are others as well; for instance, if they are shaking their head more than normal this can also be another tell-tale sign that they are due for a cleaning.

Another sign is that they keep rubbing their heads across the lawn or ground; basically, any attempt to scratch their ears excessively can be a sign that it is time to clean their ears.

Another way for them to show that they are ready to have their ears cleaned that is a little less telling is if they are constantly wanting you to scratch their head or rub their ears. While this is common in most dogs, if yours is acting a little extra needy in this department it could definitely be a sign that its time.

How to Inspect Your Retriever’s Ears

Before the inspection process can begin, it is important to call your dog over and speak to them in a reassuring tone during the duration of the inspection. To make future inspections easier, it is also recommended to have a treat close by for after. The first step to inspecting your Golden Retriever’s ears is to fold the ear flap ‘inside out’ so that the pink side is almost on top of their head.

While you are doing this, it would be a good idea for you to stroke their head in a reassuring way, or have a second set of hands available to do so. While checking their ears, you will want to try and notice any dirt or black spot. While this is normal, it does mean that it might be a good idea to go ahead and clean their ears at this point.

While checking their ears, you will also want to check for any redness, swelling, or discoloration as this is not common, and should be addressed. While inspecting your Golden Retriever’s ears, you will especially want to look out for excess hair, waxy buildup, fluid discharge, or red and irritated skin.

Inspect Your Retriever's Ears

Trim Unwanted Hair Outside the Ear Area

Trimming unwanted and excess hair around the ear area will make it easier to both inspect and clean your Retriever’s ears. This should be done very carefully, however; especially around skittish or shy dogs.

As with the inspection process, it may be a good idea to have a second set of hands to help you with this. Dogs do not like anything to be around there ears, and if they hear the sound of scissors cutting what they can’t see, they may start to panic.

That should not deter you, however, as this is something that needs to be done. Doing this from an early age, and on a regular basis will also help your adult dog to realize that it is just another part of life, and not to be scared by it every time.

Using a high-quality pair of hair cutting scissors, carefully go around your Golden Retriever’s ears and trim what you deem to be unwanted and unnecessary hair. Pay special and close attention that you don’t cut too close to and nic the skin on the ear. Once done with the trimming, you can collect the excess fur by wiping the ear down with a wet, soft cloth.

Retriever Ear Cleaning Products Recommendation

When it comes to cleaning your dog’s ears, anything that will help will make it a better experience both for yourself and your Retriever. Keep in mind that some products work better than others, however. Below are the top 3 products that I use and have had fantastic luck with when cleaning my Golden Retriever’s ears.

Zymox Ear Solution is a great product at an affordable price; it instantly starts to go to work to clean your dog’s ears and gets rid of any wax buildup or debris. It is a fast and effective cleaner and is also great if your dog has an ear infection or swollen ear canals. There are no harsh chemicals, and it utilizes natural enzymes to get the cleanest ears possible.

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear cleaner is both mild and gentle with a low PH. It is suitable for weekly or bi-weekly ear cleansing due to its non-irritating antiseptic formula. Another great feature of this product is that it eliminates odors due to bacteria in your dog’s ears as well.

Pet MD Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes are recommended more for spot-treatment as opposed to a deep cleaning method. They clean and deodorize your pet’s ears, are easy to use and will keep your Retriever’s ears clear of wax, discharge, and debris. These wipes contain eucalyptus to reduce itching and smell great.

Steps to Clean Retriever’s Ears

Now that we’ve gone over what to look for when inspecting your dog’s ears, the process of inspecting your Golden Retriever’s ears, and the health risks associated with dirty ears, we can now go over the steps involved in cleaning the ears. For this, you will need an ear cleanser, cotton balls or pads, tweezers (if your dog has excess hair in their ears), a towel, and treats.

  1. Make sure that your Retriever has exerted a lot of excess energy, sit them down, and go through the inspection process. (See above).
  2. Carefully trim all excess hair surrounding the ears
  3. Check-in on your Retriever to make sure that they are doing alright, and not stressing about the process; provide a treat if necessary, then let then sniff and inspect the bottle of ear cleanser.
  4. Hold their ear flap upright, and fill the ear canal with the cleanser carefully.
  5. While continuing to hold up the ear flap, massage the base of the ear where it connects to their head with your fingers for around 20 seconds.
  6. Grab a towel and position it under your dog’s ear; then release your hold on their ear, allowing them to shake their head if so desired. (The towel will keep the excess ear solution from going all over)
  7. Use a cotton ball, pad, or ear and wrap it around your index finger. Then proceed to gently wipe your dog’s ear canal and outer ear. It is only necessary to get the area that you can visibly see, as the solution would have taken care of the rest.
  8. Reward your dog with a treat!

Symptoms of Ear Infection

While some dogs are more prone to ear infection than others, no dog is immune. Ear infections are caused by too much moisture getting trapped in their ears; which can be like a breeding ground for bacteria.

Because of the nature of dogs, and that they can’t speak to us to tell us when something is bothering them or is wrong, it is important to spot the symptoms of ear infection. Below are the most common:

  • Excessive scratching of the ear and surrounding area
  • Brown, yellow, or bloody discharge; sometimes accompanied by an odor
  • Redness, swelling, or scabs on the ear
  • Hair loss around the ear
  • Excessive rubbing of the ear on the ground or furniture
  • Head shaking or walking around with a head tilt
  • Loss of balance or unusual eye movements
  • Hearing loss

If you notice any of these symptoms, especially those that seem to be out of place for your dog, it would be a good idea to check the ear and ear canal for any signs of infection immediately. If your retriever can’t seem to leave one or both of their ears alone, this should be enough to tell you that something is going on, and should be checked out.

Golden Retriever Dog Breed Ear Cleaning Precautions

There are a few precautions to be aware of when cleaning your Retriever’s ears. Although not much, just a few things to look out for are:

  • Not to ever use any product with vinegar to clean your dog’s ears. While this may be an excellent product for cleaning your house, it is highly acidic and can irritate the inner ear.
  • Be careful if using tweezers to remove any excess buildup of hair in their ears. Although it is not recommended, sometimes it may be necessary to use tweezers in order to grab a clump of fur that has lodged itself inside of your dog’s ear. It is always recommended to do this as a last resort and to attempt to work the hair towards the surface as much as you can.
  • If you are having someone help with the ear cleaning process, make sure it is someone that your Golden Retriever knows and is comfortable with. This will help them to feel safer and will reduce the amount of stress they may be experiencing. Remember, things like having their ears cleaned can be a stressful experience for your dog!

Using SIT and WAIT Commands to Make Your Retriever Allow Ear Cleaning Process

A well-trained dog will be much easier to deal with when it comes to cleaning their ears. Using the commands SIT and WAIT will not only aid in the training process but will keep them from performing sudden movements that may injure them during this process. Using these commands will also help to let your dog know that they are not in trouble in any way.

A dog that knows to wait and remain still until they are told otherwise shows that they not only trust that you know what is best but will allow you to be much more confident while you are inspecting and cleaning their ears. As always, every once in a while it may be a good idea to reward them with a treat for their good behavior.



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