Routine ear cleaning is not required. A small amount of light brown waxy secretion in the ear canals is normal, and some ear wax is necessary for the health of the ears. However, the insides of the ear flaps should be cleaned whenever there is a accumulation of wax, dirt, or debris. Gently wipe the skin with a cloth that has been dampened with mineral oil, or better yet, with an ear cleansing solution such as Oti-Clens, Epi-Otic, or a similar product. Ear cleaners can be purchased at pet supply stores or through your veterinarian. Do not use alcohol, ether, or other irritating solvents; they can cause intense pain and inflame the tissues.
If there is an excessive accumulation of wax in the ear canals that appears to be the blocking air flow; if the ear appears to be red, inflamed, and moist; or if there is discharge from the ear, take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment. The ears are either infected or likely to become so.
After an initial cleaning at the veterinary clinic, you may be instructed to instill a cleansing solution at home. Apply a few drops of cleaning solution to the canal and massage the base of the ear to loosen wax and debris. Then gently wipe out the ear canal with cotton balls.
Never insert cotton-tipped applicators or swabs down into the ear canals, because this pushes wax and cellular debris further into the ear. This is a common cause of ear infection. However, cotton-tipped applicators and swabs can be used to clean the skin folds of the outer ear.