Keeping your dog clean will help keep him healthy, but that may sound simpler than it is. Dogs need regular bathing, their paws need cleaning and their nails need cleaning and trimming. The coat needs brushing, the eyes need wiping, and last but not least, you have to clean their ears. Keeping a dog's ears clean helps prevent infection and mites. Commercial ear washes are available in pet stores, but you can make one at home using natural ingredients like tea tree oil.
Make the Solution
Tea tree oil alone is effective in cleaning your dog's ears, so if you find that it's the only ingredient you have on hand, just use plain tea tree oil. If you want to go all out and make an ear wash solution, keep a few ingredients on hand. Rubbing alcohol is inexpensive and is an excellent disinfectant. It also cleans dirt and grime from your dog's ears. White vinegar does the same thing, but the smell of vinegar may make alcohol more preferable. Mineral oil, olive oil, vitamin E and vegetable glycerine are all moisturisers that also help the other ingredients mix more thoroughly in the solution. Finally, tea tree oil is good for relieving mite infestations as well as killing bacteria and fungi that may have entered the ear. Combine 118ml. rubbing alcohol, 56.7gr. tea tree oil and 1 tbs. glycerine in a squirt bottle and shake well for a simple yet effective ear wash.
Use the Solution
You may want to grab a friend when the time comes to use your new ear wash. Not all dogs like this "beauty" treatment, and it never hurts to have an extra pair of hands. Have your helper hold your dog while you move the ear aside and squirt the solution in. Massage the ear to work the solution in, and allow it to sit for 30 seconds or so before wiping the ear clean using cotton balls. If the ears are still dirty, repeat the procedure. Clean your dog's ears at least once a day until the condition of the ears improves (if infested with mites or infected), then cut back to weekly cleanings. If the ears are already in good shape, weekly ear cleaning is satisfactory.
Having a partner makes ear cleaning time easier, and so does warm solution. Simply allow the solution to heat in the sunshine for 30-60 minutes or warm in a pan of warm water the way you would warm a baby bottle. Most dogs find warm solution less objectionable than cold solution. If you find that your dog is intolerant of any of the ingredients in the solution, try cleaning the ears with mineral oil only or lavender essential oil. Using essential oils also adds a nice fragrance the dog's ears. Keep some treats handy to use as a reward for good behaviour. If all else fails in your quest for clean dog ears, bribery with treats is a good way to get the ball rolling.