Dog Ear Wax, Infection and Cleaning

by S. Walton

Reader Question: Caring for Dog Ears and Wax Buildup

My BMC has had dirty looking ears since I got her. There was a time when I was sure she had an ear infection and I took her to the vet, got medicine, etc. The vet cleaned her ears and showed me how to do it myself.

The same black/purple wax was present, but the veterinarian seemed unconcerned. Since the ear infection was treated I clean the ears regularly, but she has ALOT of waxy buildup. SHE ACTUALLY SEEMS MORE IRRITATED IF I DO A THOROUGH CLEANING. That is when she starts shaking her head and tilting it to the side.

As with my ears I do not clean them often as the doctor said that q tips can actually be harmful and cause buildup, so I only clean when it rises to the flap or top of ear before canal.

Is this an ear infection even though no pain or itching?

Veterinarian Suggestion: Dog Ear Wax Buildup, Infection and Cleaning


The only way to determine whether or not the build-up within your dog’s ears is related to an infection is for a veterinarian to remove some of the material and look at it under the microscope.

It is possible that a mild infection is to blame even if your dog is not showing any signs of itching or pain, but some dogs do produce a fair bit of waxy material in their ears without infection being present. In these cases, it is still a good idea to remove the waxy build-up on a regular basis since it can promote infection.

Perhaps a different type of ear cleaner would be less irritating to your dog. Cerumene is a gentle cleaner that is especially good for removing earwax.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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