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Dog Ear Cleaning Solution and Techniques

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Get rid of gunky, stinky ears! Here's the dog ear cleaning solution to your problems. Learn how to do it and what to use.

Once you have completed trimming your Sheltie’s ears it’s time to turn to cleaning, both the outer portion and the inner canal. There are a myriad of cleaners and any one could probably do the job, but here is one that is good for routine cleaning:

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First take a cotton ball and pour some of the cleaner on it. Gently wipe as much of the inside as possible to get the dirt and grime off.

Then take a Q tip wet with the cleaner and gently get in all the crevices to remove the remainder of the dirt.

The EarMed Cleaning Solution & Wash is what I use and you can purchase this by clicking on the photo here.

The next part can make some people a little nervous but it is pretty fail safe. Pouring some cleaner on a clean Q tip, gently put it down the canal. Most Shelties tolerate this rather well, unless they have a raging infection.

You can’t accidentally puncture the eardrum if that is what you are thinking. First the canal is rather long and secondly it makes a sharp 90 degree turn that the Q tip can’t follow.

cleaning sheltie ears
using ear cleaning solution
sheltie ear cleaning using Q tip

With the Q tip inserted, gently pull the Q tip up and out as you scrap along a side. Do this several times around the canal using as many clean Q tips as necessary.

If you have gobs of debris and are worried you are simply shoving the debris down, you can flush the canal with the dog ear cleaning solution. After squirting cleaner into the canal, massage the base of the ear for a minute or so to loosen the dirt.

Then take a bulb syringe (the baby kind) filled with warm water place it in the canal and gently flush. When you are done, with the syringe still deflated, release the syringe in order to suck out the water left inside. Take the syringe out, empty it of the dirty water and repeat if necessary 2 -3 times. 

Finish with a flush of dog ear cleaning solution.


If you think you are dealing with an ear infection, the skin will probably be red, hot and painful. Certainly going to the vet at that point is reasonable for a diagnosis, cleaning and medication to take home.

However, if you feel comfortable with dealing with the infection yourself there are a few home remedies that you can use.

At this point I have to say, this information is based on what I have read and what I feel prepared to do if necessary. However, it has been literally decades since I had a pup with an infection, so I cannot verify the efficacy from first hand experience. I DO however, use this EarMed Boracetic Flush when I am grooming someone else's sheltie and find inflammation. Then it is up to the owner to decide the next step to take.

First Determine What You Are Dealing With


If you have black stuff that seems to keep coming back no matter how much you clean, it may be mites. This is a parasite not an infection per se. The easiest way to determine if it is mites is to take some of the gunk and put it on a paper towel then pour some hydrogen peroxide over it. If there is the telltale red from the mites ingesting blood, you will know what you have.

The easiest way to handle mites is either with Ear Mite lotion or simple mineral oil from any pharmacy near you. You can purchase EarMed Mite Lotion from me by clicking on the photo on the right.

Mineral oil will smother the mites if used 2-3 times per week til clear. Just use an eye dropper to fill the canal.

Yes, the pup will shake his head and most of whichever dog ear cleaning solution you used will go flying. So try to keep his head still for a few minutes before letting go.

You can try putting a cotton ball to hold everything in, but that rarely lasts long. 

Yeast or Bacterial Infection?

Again, you could go to your vet and get some antibiotic or antifungal dog ear cleaning solution which is certainly the traditional route.

Whole Dog Journal had an article several years ago where a thick cream called Pellitol was injected in the canal and left until it dried out a week later. Well, of course Pellitol is no longer available but a replacement ointment is available here. I probably will give this a try if I come up with any ear infections, but at present I can't personally vouch for the effectiveness.

Another homemade dog ear cleaning solution I found:

4 oz. Zinc Oxide (non-nano sized particles)
4 oz. Boric Acid
1/2 oz Excel Powder

Mixed together and sprinkled in the ear. (Don't let the pup ingest this).

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