How to Clean Cocker Spaniel Ears

June 5, 2022

While cocker spaniels are known for their long cute floppy ears, these droopy ears require more frequent cleaning than some other breeds.

The ear flap can trap moisture, dirt and bacteria that contribute to ear issues. These ear problems can cause the dog discomfort that no pet parent wants to see.  

The best way to stop infections is prevention by regular ear cleaning. This will ensure the dog's ears are not only beautiful but healthy.

While many treatments are best left to professionals, cleaning cocker spaniels' ears at home is easy.

When to Clean your Cocker Spaniel's Ears

Cleaning your dog's ears regularly is essential for cocker spaniel owners. A weekly check is the best option to ensure any infections are quickly spotted and to reduce the build-up of wax under the ear flap. The check can also pick up other issues like mites or grass seeds.

While it is important to have regular checks, it may not always need to be accompanied by a full clean.

The frequency can also depend on activity levels of the cocker spaniel. For example, a dog who swims frequently may require extra care around the ears. American kennel club recommends to clean cocker's ear canal especially after a bath to prevent ear infection.

Cleaning Supplies

It is best to have all essential items within your reach to make the whole process as smooth as possible for both you and your cocker:

  • Cotton buds or cotton balls
  • Few tissues or clean cloth
  • A small dish or bowl
  • Blunt-ended scissors
  • Ear cleaning solution
  • Handful of treats

It is important to pick ear cleaners that are approved by professionals for dogs ears only. Never attempt to make your own solution as this can lead to infection. Most reputable pet stores will have a selection of good dog ear cleaning solutions.

If you suspect you have bought a wrong type, consult with your vet immediately as you can do more harm than good.

Cleaning your Cocker Spaniels Ears

Step 1: Wash your hands

Cleaning your hands thoroughly reduces the risk of passing any nasty bacteria to your dog. When cocker spaniels get an ear infection, it can be hard to get rid of it, so washing hands is a really important step.

Step 2: Inspect the cocker spaniel's ears

You will need to ask your dog to sit still to be able to move the ear flap and see inside the dog's ear canal.

The ear should be clean and pink, with no foul smell or discharge. A little bit of wax is normal. If you think the ear is infected, do not continue. If your dog is nervous, it is worth easing them into this by giving few scratches in between examining the ears.

If it all looks nice and pink, it is time to grab the ear cleaning solution.

Step 3: Apply the ear wash solution in the ear canal

Always read the label of the ear cleaning solution. Normally you only require a few drops of the ear cleaner.

The best way to insert the ear cleaner is to stand behind your sitting dog, lift the ear flap back and look into the small hole, this is the ear canal that leads to the ear drum.

Squeeze the ear solution in the hole and and gently massage base of the dog's ear. You will here a squishing sound when the cleaning solution dislodges debris in the ear canal. Make sure the applicator of the cleaning solution does not touch the dog's ear.

Your cocker spaniel will love the massage and will let you continue as long as possible. However, be warned that when you stop the dog will shake and excess solution will be on you.

Step 4: Clean the external area and folded parts of dog's ears

You will require a bowl and cotton wool to clean the external and folded parts of the ear.

Squeeze few drops of cleaning solution in a dish. Again, make sure the bowl is clean to avoid ear infection.

Dip a cotton ball into the liquid, squeeze out the excess ear cleaner and rub cocker spaniel ears gently to remove any dirt. Lift the ear flap and always work from inside out massaging the ear with cotton ball. If you have cotton buds, do not poke them into the ear inner canal. Cotton tipped swabs can damage the ear drum.

Remember to use a new cotton ball or gauze for the other ear. You do not want to bring across any bacteria when cleaning your dog's ears.

Step 5: Trim the dog's ears

As discussed, cocker spaniel ears can be a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and infections as the ear canal can be a warm damp place.

Trimming the hair from the opening of dog's ear canal can help the air to circulate and avoid infection. The inner ear should be free from excess hair.

Best to get the dog focused on a snack and ensure there are no distractions when performing this step.

Step 6: Dry the ears

Drying the dog's ears is the last step in the process of how to clean cocker spaniel ears. Dry dog ears can help to prevent ear infections from moisture in the ear canal.

Use a dry towel or tissue to gently wipe and remove any excess cleaner on cocker's ears. Your cocker spaniel should now have clean dog ears and should be praised with a little treat or a pat on the head.

Signs of Ear Infections

Although cleaning cocker spaniel’s ears at home can be simple, it is always worth having the dog's ears checked regularly by the vet. The doctor can also recommend best cleaning solutions and offer pet specific ear hygiene advice. It is possible to be over cleaning cocker's ears.

If you ever notice any signs of ear infections or your cocker spaniel appears to be in discomfort, he can have yeast infection or other ear issues so you need to take him straight to the vet. Things to look out for that can be signs of an infected ear in dogs (sometimes referred to as otitis externa):

  • Excessive wax in the ear canal
  • Itching and head shaking
  • Redness or swelling
  • Foul smell
  • Head tilt

Easy Tips for Healthy Ears

The best way to keep your dog's ears infection free is to clean them regularly with help from below tips.

  • Praise your dog- cocker spaniels love to hear how good boys/girls they have been. Giving them lots of praise during the cleaning process will make them remember the experience positively.
  • Stay calm- Some cocker spaniels can get very uncomfortable with ear cleaner in the ear canal and shake their head. If the dog appears nervous, ensure you stay calm and take it one ear at a time.
  • Read labels of any ear cleaner and only buy them from the vet or reputable dog supplies store.
  • Avoid excess moisture in ear canals and ensure dog ears are dried after every walk to avoid moisture build-up in the ear canal and under dog's ear flap.
  • Ensure your cocker spaniel has a good diet. If you are cleaning dog's ears regularly but cannot keep away yeast infections and other ear problems, it might be time to change the dog's food.

Which Ear Cleaners are the Best?

With so many ear cleaning solutions to pick from, it can be tricky to choose the right one for your cocker's ears. While best bet is to consult with a vet, generally liquid cleaners are best for dog's ears.

It can sometimes be tempting to pick the best smelling solution for ear cleaning. However, some synthetic perfumes might just be there to hide the smells rather than for cleaning your dog's ears and can result in allergic reactions when in contact with the ear canal.

Hydrogen peroxide, sometimes used in removing wax in human ear cleaning, is not safe for your cocker spaniel's ears.

Can you Clean any Cocker Spaniels Ears?

It can be easier to set the habit with a puppy. When your cocker spaniel is used to it, they have become accustomed to ear cleaning as they get older.

Of course this is not always possible, especially if you have a rescue cocker or you are trying to set a new habit by cleaning your older dog's ears.

It is is important to never attempt to continue cleaning the dog ear when the spaniel is visibly stressed or you see the dog shake as this can lead to injuries.

The best tactic is start first sessions just with massaging until you pup gets more comfortable with your hands around the dog ear.


Cleaning your dog's ears help to keep your cocker spaniels healthy. With ears cleaned, your spaniel is less likely to pick up infections. All you need is good ear cleaners, cotton ball or gauze for wiping and to be careful not to stick anything in the ear canal to damage the ear drum.

Your cocker spaniel will be sure to enjoy the regular massage when you clean your dog's ears.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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