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5 Tips To Clean Your Chihuahua’s Ears (With How-To Video)

How To Clean Chihuahua Ears

Cleaning Chihuahua ears can be tricky. That’s why you should do it right.

In this article you’ll find easy tips to do that.

Read on to discover:

  • What the equipment that you need is.
  • A step-by-step video on how to clean your Chi’s ears safe and efficient.
  • How to check for any illnesses your Chi might have that could make the process painful.
  • 3 must-read ways which can help you turn ear cleaning into a positive experience for your dog.
  • And a lot more…

How often should you clean your Chihuahuas’ ears?

You should clean your Chihuahua’s ears regularly to prevent any buildup of wax or fungal infections. Thankfully, their ears are relatively low maintenance. The recommended frequency should be once a month. This should be supplemented with yearly checkups to the vet to keep your dog healthy. 

5 tips on how to clean your Chihuahuas’ ears

#1: Get the right equipment

When cleaning your Chihuahua’s ears, having the right tools is crucial. They are very sensitive creatures and will sometimes refuse anything that seems invasive to them (even baths).

You must also avoid using conventional tools like Q-tips since they can push wax further into the ear canal. In other words, you need to get creative.

Here’s what you’ll need to clean your dog’s ears better:

Cleaning agent

Typically, an over-the-counter cleaning solution will suffice if your vet approves of it. It helps soften and remove the lump of wax, bacteria, and fungi inside your dog’s ear. 

Apply it gently in your dog’s ear. Massage the outside of the ear as you do so. Once you hear squishing, it means the solution has done its work. 

Let them shake the dirt off once you’re done applying it for results. Clean up the rest of the dirt with a cotton ball.

Here’s a good example of how to do it. Observe how thorough and friendly the cleaning process is for the dog:

Note: The cleaning solution’s bottle tip must NOT touch the ear canal when you apply it, since the tip could become a vector for bacteria.

Cleaning towel/cotton

The towel does two things here. First, it serves to catch dirt as your dog shakes it off their ears. You can also wear an apron and wipe off the debris from your dog.

Second, it seals the deal. When your dog is done shaking, remove the remaining debris from the ear canal with the cotton/towel.

Avoid using rags or anything that’s not perfectly clean. Your dog’s ear canal is sensitive, and bacteria can easily enter it when you clean.

Note: Check with your vet if your dog starts to hurt while cleaning as it could be a sign of infection.


Ear cleaning has to be fun for your dog to really help them enjoy it. You may give your Chihuahua treats before and after the session to help them associate ear cleaning with good rewards.

Reading Tip: Check out #4 for more tips on which treats to get and how to use them!

#2: Check for illnesses

Ear illnesses can hinder dog cleaning in a lot of ways. Although your dog can endure physical pain, it can become unbearable for them once you clean their ear canal.

They might yelp or move around when you touch their ears. If you aren’t able to clean or treat them, it can result in a permanent loss of hearing.

Some particular diseases you need to look out for include:

Ear Dermatitis

This disease usually involves the outer parts of the ear (pinna). The causes usually vary from existing infections to infestations like mites or ticks. 

Although very treatable, it can cause even bigger infections. Dogs that have this will regularly find ways to ease the itch such as scratching.

Ear canal tumors

Tumors can build up within your dog’s ear canal. Depending on the tumor, poking them accidentally while you clean can cause extreme pain.

If you feel any lumps or if your dog is afraid of cleaning, arrange an appointment with your vet. Worst-case scenarios will often require surgery, so be ready.

Ear canal infections

Studies indicate that dogs are susceptible to common ear diseases. Infections like otitis externa (outer), media (middle) and interna (inner) can cause great discomfort for your dog.

Symptoms include:

  • Problems with balance.
  • Constant head-shaking.
  • Excessive ear scratching.
  • Pus leaking out of the ear.
  • Yeast-like odor around the ear.

Vets will usually treat your dog with a medicated cleaning agent. Be sure to ask their advice to begin treatment at home.

#3: Work with their schedule and temper

Cleaning Chihuahua Ears

Many owners tend to overlook this part, but knowing your pet’s mood and schedule is essential when it comes to ear cleaning. According to the AKC, you should clean your pet’s ears when they are calm.

Chihuahuas need some time calming down before having their ears cleaned because they are highly energetic dogs. Sitting still for even short periods can make them fidgety while they’re alert.

Studies show that dogs tend to have varied sleeping schedules. Luckily, they tend to have high resting times during the day. 

A Chihuahua is likely to get tired and sleep between 12-20 hours a day depending on age. The younger they are, the more they’ll rest. This means you have plenty of opportunities for cleaning.

Typically, you want to get your Chihuahua shortly after playtime when they’re satisfied already and are about to sleep. This way, you won’t have to worry about them moving too often.

On cleaning day, you can clean your dog in the afternoon just before their naptime. You can also do it at night before you send them to their crate.

#4: Make it a positive experience

To get your Chihuahua to like ear cleaning, you need to make the experience as positive as possible.

In cleaning the ears, you should prepare all kinds of rewards for your dog. These can include treats and petting.

To get the best results for your Chihuahua, you should use these rewards together. Some Chihuahuas can feel scared while ear cleaning, so petting them during the process will help soothe them.

Note: Some owners recommend the use of spray cheese or liquid treats. Put a small amount on your hand/palm. Have your dog lick it while you clean their ear. This will distract them while you clean.

Once you’re finished cleaning your Chihuahua’s ears, pet them on their backs or give them a belly rub if they prefer it.

Give them treats once the session is over. You can also help settle your dog down by telling them to ‘stay.’ 

Here’s how it works:

  1. Prepare a treat.
  2. Tell your dog to ‘stay.’
  3. Move away from your pet.
  4. Observe their behavior and make sure they are still.
  5. Reward them for staying put. Repeat until mastered.

Once they’re happily staying put, you can begin the cleaning process. 

Caution: Avoid punishing your dog, forcefully holding them down, or yanking their ears. Your Chihuahua might associate ear cleaning with these negative experiences.

In general, refrain from making it a painful experience. Focus on positive reinforcement and they will not avoid ear cleaning next time.

#5: Find the right place

Another important aspect of ear cleaning is thinking about your Chihuahua’s place. 

The main problem is that when dogs have their ears cleaned, they shake it off immediately afterwards.

There’s no way you can control exactly where the debris is going to land. Further, since it’s made of excess wax, bacteria and fungi, it can really smell.

As such, you need to find an open space to do the ear cleaning. It doesn’t have to be in the front yard. You can do it in your bathroom or any room where you can easily find things that fall off.

If you can help it, wear an apron or clothing that won’t be too hard to wash. This will allow you to catch dirt without worry.  

What to do when your Chihuahua doesn’t like ‘ear cleaning’?

#1: Consider non-invasive tools

Some Chihuahuas may not like ear cleaning because of the cleaning solution. Pouring something inside the ear is invasive, and can really turn some Chihuahuas away.

If your Chihuahua isn’t interested in having liquid dropped on their ears, you can try using ear wipes and sprays.

For ear wipes, one great product is Pet MD – Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes.

Its primary appeal is that it doesn’t require a lot of work. There’s no need to hold your dog down for long when you use it.

When you use this, simply wipe your pet’s ear gently until no dirt is visible. Your dog will still shake off their ear after use.

Note: The instructions indicate that you may have to do this daily. Be sure to consult your vet to see if the recommended routine is good for your dog. 

Alternatively, you can put the cleaning agent inside a spray can. Spray around the ear to help clean the outer layer and spray some into the ear canal.

After spraying, wipe the outer ear and stroke towards the ear canal. This will help with drying. Your pet will shake off the rest of the solution afterwards.

Be sure to give your pet a treat afterwards. Rewarding them will help create a positive experience for ear cleaning.

Reading tip: Go to #3 for tips on what to do if your dog gets particularly angry!

#2: Consult a dog behaviorist

If you manage to clean your dog’s ears and they still display difficulties, talking to a trainer might help fix the problem. 

Not all Chihuahuas are going to be okay with the methods above, so you need to ask the best for their advice. 

Aside from practical tips, you should also ask if they have any brands they trust in particular. You may find stuff on the internet, but each Chihuahua is different and has separate needs.

Before you consult them, write down all the things that you can find. Be as specific and thorough as possible. 

Write down how they react to certain things, words, or gestures. Brief them about your dog beforehand as necessary.

The more they know about your Chihuahua’s condition, the faster they’ll come up with a solution that works for you and your pet.

#3: Do it more slowly

If your Chihuahua hates ear cleaning, there’s a chance they’ll get angry. 

It doesn’t necessarily mean they hate you when they do it.

They could just be afraid for a variety of reasons such as:

  • Lack of exposure to tools that you use.
  • Previous traumas, such as history of abuse.
  • Illness and resulting sensitivity near the ears.

When your dog is afraid, you need to be patient and methodical. Here are some steps you can take to help your Chihuahua:

Trim the hair around your dog’s ears

If your Chihuahua doesn’t hate grooming, then this is a good thing to do before you start cleaning them.

This is because their ear hair might simply absorb the cleaning solution. If your Chihuahua refuses to stay still, you might not get the cleaning agent through the ear canal.

Here’s what you need to do to get started with trimming:

  1. Have your dog sit on your lap (or stay still).
  2. Press on their outer ear from the front until the ear is on its side.
  3. Apply detangler.
  4. Cut the hair halfway.
  5. Wipe off excess hair with cotton balls.

Remember to give your dog a treat after trimming their ear hair!

Show them your equipment

Check their reaction to your individual equipment. Show them your cleaning solution’s bottle and see if they react.

If there’s no reaction, check their reaction to towels or cotton balls. If your Chihuahua is adopted, check if they have any phobias related to cleaning.

Desensitize them

Let your pet interact with your tools. Give them your towel and bottle and have them sniff or play around with them.

Play with their ears if needed. Stroke the back of their ears and poke your finger near the ear canal. Do each of these separately.

Once your dog is used to doing both, begin by letting them smell the actual solution. Slowly apply some on your finger away from their view.

Stroke their ear again and put the finger with the solution back in. Do this a couple more times during cleaning until your dog no longer minds it.

Once this is done, your dog will likely shake off the cleaning solution. Encourage this by giving your Chihuahua a treat.

Note: Don’t worry if there’s any cleaning solution left in the ear. This is perfectly normal and will naturally dry off.