Keeping your poodle’s ears cleaned is essential for its health. However, since poodles have long hair, the process of cleaning their ears involves more work than shorter hair dogs.
In this guide, I’ll walk you through the essential information you need to know about how to clean poodle ears.
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Importance of Cleaning Poodle Ears
Before we dive into how to clean your poodle’s ears, you might feel motivated to clean your dog’s ears more frequently if you first understand its benefits.
Unlike many dog breeds, Poodles of all sizes have excessive hair that grows in and around their ears. As a result, the hair can block proper airflow to their ears.
Without routine cleaning, bacteria, yeast, and debris will accumulate inside your poodle’s ear canal. That can result in ear infections and other issues that I’ll share with you at the end of this post.
While it’s understandable for you to assume that you can take some clippers to your poodle’s ears and call them clean, in reality, it’s best to pluck the inner part of your Poodle’s ear hair. (The narrow ear canals of a Poodle are the reason that Labradoodles, Cockapoos and Goldendoodles all need extra ear cleaning).
The reason? Clippers don’t fully remove hair, so your poodle may still experience issues with airflow inside the ear, creating an environment ideal for bacteria and yeast.
Plucking a Poodle’s Ear Hair
The first step in “cleaning” your poodle’s ears is actually plucking them—you want to ensure that you give yourself a clean surface to work with before applying the ear cleaning solution we’ll be talking about next.
The good news is that plucking your poodle’s ears isn’t a costly endeavor, nor is it painful for your dog if you do it right. You’ll need to start by purchasing a stainless steel hemostat. Make sure to buy a size that will easily slide into your Poodle’s ears.
Additionally, you should buy poodle ear powder since it will aid you with gripping your poodle’s hair and help the hair come loose, including the root.
Below are the steps you’ll need to follow to pluck your Poodle’s ears.
Step 1: Choose Your Timing
Let’s face it—your poodle isn’t going to be very still if he wants to go outside to play or if dinner time is approaching. Therefore, try to pluck your poodle’s ears when he’s resting.
Step 2: Apply Ear Powder
You can pluck your poodle’s ears while he’s lying down, sitting, or standing; whatever is most comfortable for him will ultimately be the most comfortable for you.
Then sprinkle a small amount of ear powder into his ear. There’s no need to go overboard here—the goal is to remove your dog’s ear hair, not to fill his ear canal with powder!
Step 3: Start Plucking
You’ll want to pluck your poodle’s ear hair like you would your own hair. Therefore, grab a few pieces of hair at a time and yank them out with a quick, confident movement.
Be careful not to push the hemostat too far down your poodle’s ear canal. I know it can be tempting to want to remove every strand of hair, but it’s not worth the risk of damaging your dog’s ear.
Step 4: Offer a Reward
Ear plucking won’t be painful for your poodle if you follow the instructions here, but we all know your pooch would rather be doing other things. Therefore, make sure to offer plenty of encouragement during the plucking process and give him a treat afterward—perhaps even one you reserve for ear plucking so that he looks forward to it.
How Often Should I Pluck My Poodle’s Ears?
If you’re hesitant about plucking your poodle’s ears, the good news is that your newbie ways won’t last for long; you should aim to pluck your poodle’s ears every two to four weeks.
Make sure to sterilize your hemostat between cleanings—the purpose of these cleanings is to remove bacteria from your dog’s ears, not contribute to it!
Cleaning Your Poodle’s Ears
With the inside of your poodle’s ears hair-free, it’s time to move on to getting them squeaky clean. It may be the first time you see your poodle’s ears this close-up, so you might be amazed by the number of curves and twists they have.
As you can imagine, even without hair, the crevices make for prime spots where dirt and bacteria can accumulate. Furthermore, ear mites love to bury themselves in these hideaway areas.
If the reasons above aren’t enough to convince you of the importance of cleaning your poodle’s ears, it’s crucial to remove wax buildup. Don’t get me wrong—wax plays an important role in your dog’s health because it helps catch small particles. However, those particles can remain trapped in its ear, causing more issues than it helps.
Without further ado, below are the steps you should follow to keep your poodle’s ears clean.
Step 1: Buy an Ear Cleaner
Regular water will help your ear cleaning endeavors, but it doesn’t come close to being as effective as an ear cleaner designed for dogs. Try to choose a natural cleanser that doesn’t have harsh chemicals. Even a saline solution can work if you don’t have access to an ear cleaner.
Step 2: Apply the Cleaner
- Non-irritating solution
- Use during routine cleansing of sensitive ears
- Removes debris and excessive wax and dries the ear canal.
- Recommended for pets with chronic otitis externa which is chronic inflammation of a dogs external ear canal.
- It has a low pH, so it shouldn't interfere with other ear preparations.
Ear cleaners made for dogs come with a dropper head. Set the dropper head inside the entrance of your dog’s ear canal and squeeze the bottle for about five seconds. That should mostly fill the canal, and the magic of getting the grime out of your poodle’s ears will begin.
Step 3: Massage the Ear
Press a large cotton swab against the opening of your dog’s ear and massage it in circles. Don’t be afraid to apply pressure as you do the massaging. Your poodle will likely enjoy this part and lean into the cotton ball, putting even more pressure onto it.
Step 4: Change Cotton Balls
You should aim to massage your poodle’s ear for 30 – 60 seconds, but you should switch out cotton balls as you go. The reason for this is because ear wax and debris will start getting stuck in the cotton swab as you massage, so you want to make sure you have plenty of cotton surface area for it to cling to.
Step 5: Manually Clean
Once you complete the big cleanse with the deeper part of the inner ear, it’s time to do some final touches around the portion of the ear you can see. So, take another cotton ball and physically remove any dirt or wax you encounter.
Make sure only to clean as deep as you can see, for you don’t want to pack wax and dirt into the eardrum. For that reason, I don’t recommend using a Q-Tip.
Step 6: Reward Your Poodle
Ear cleaning is usually more enjoyable for your poodle than ear plucking, but either way, you should still give him a treat so that he continues to have a positive association with the process.
How Often Should I Clean My Poodle’s Ears?
Poodles need their ears cleaned more frequently than they do plucking. Therefore, you should aim to clean your poodle’s ears every one to two weeks.
Given the two- to four-week timeline for plucking a poodle’s ears, you can alternate between cleaning and combining ear plucking with cleaning.
Issues With Unclean Poodle Ears
Hopefully, you’re here for preventative care and not because your poodle already has ear problems. But in either case, it’s important to understand the most common issues that arise from not being vigilant about caring for your poodle’s ears.
Ear infections are one of the most common ear issues that poodle’s face. It’s also one of the easiest to treat with ear cleanings, provided that the infection isn’t too advanced.
Signs that your poodle has an ear infection include rubbing their ears, shaking their head frequently, a bad smell coming from their ear canal, and discolored ear wax.
All dogs have some yeast on their body. However, when the yeast becomes unbalanced, it grows at an unnatural rate and causes an infection.
The biggest sign that your dog has a yeast infection is if you smell a strong, musty odor coming from your dog’s ear. You’ll need to take your dog to the veterinarian so they can prescribe anti-yeast medicine. [Yeast infections are one of the most common causes of a stinky dog]
Mites are tiny parasites that spread quickly between dogs, and they love to make their home in Poodle ears. Symptoms of mites include obsessive itching and crust and lumps in the ear canal.
Your veterinarian will give your Poodle a two-step medication treatment—your poodle will need to take medicine for 7 – 10 days, wait two weeks, and then undergo another round of the medication to kill any remaining mite eggs.
This is separate to flea treatments.
Are You Ready to Give Your Poodle’s Ears Some Love?
Aside from the obvious health benefits of keeping your poodle’s ears cleaned, it has a non-health benefit, too—you’ll know that Fido’s hearing isn’t bad when you tell him to get out of the treat bin.
Regular shampoo (or special shampoo for black Poodles) does not quite do the trick – you will need special ear cleaning tactics and products to get the best outcome).
I know that ear cleaning can seem like an intimidating endeavor at first, especially for those who fear injuring their dog’s ear. However, once you learn how to clean poodle ears, you just might become the designated poodle ear cleaner in your neighborhood.