My dog Sasha (pictured) has large flappy ears that make her cute as a button but also harbor all kinds of “nastiness” or what I would call a “festering science project”.  I always knew we had issues when she would cuddle with me and all I could smell was something foul or that “earthy” potato smell. 

You may describe it as something else, some dogs ears will smell sour or you will see them SashaCredit: Diane Palmeritching.  When this first started happening with my pooch, I headed to the Veterinarian for a checkup and watched him clean out her ears.

He said I could do this at home and should do this on a regular basis to prevent it going further such as a ear infection, which can get nasty. 

He told me about various products you could get and it is a matter of personal choice.  You can also make your own, but I personally liked the idea of being able to clean her ears quickly and when the opportunity arose (she hates getting it done).  So for me it was always handy to have a bottle of ear cleaner ready and waiting.

What You Will Need:

Dog Ear Cleaner

Cotton Balls

An Area to work in - A place where if your dog shakes their head it will not create more mess (I try to do this outside).  Most dogs will try and shake their head after you are finished and so it can get messy.  This is not something you should do in your living room or kitchen.

Apron or Old Clothes


Step 1

Keep your pooch calm and get out your supplies and get them into your specific area of operations.

Stinky dog earsCredit:

Step 2

Follow the instructions on the bottle (maybe read the bottle before you get started so that you are familiar because at this point your pet knows something is going on and may bolt) and pour required amount in the ear of your dog.  It is best if they are lying down or at least have their head turned sideways so the solution gets right in there.

Step 3

Be quick to cover the area with the ear flap or your hand and then massage the area to get the solution working before they try and shake their head and you lose the formula.  They usually like this part.  My Sasha can sit for hours if you are rubbing her ear.  I will warn you it will sound gross in there, but that means the solution is working.

smelly dog earsCredit:

Step 4

Take a cotton ball and get right in the ear and rub gently and you should get out the crud that is causing the smelly dog ears.

Step 5

Repeat until you get it all out or at least most of it as you dog may rebel.  Move to the other side and repeat.

They will shake their head, if you got a lot of the crud out, nothing much will shake out, but still it is a good idea not to be wearing your Sunday best clothes or be hanging out in the living room.  I do this outside so she can shake her head as much as she wants.

Step 6

Give them a treat, and then do something they like such as brushing them or playing with them so they don’t always associate this with bad things.

Stinky dog earsCredit:
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Trim Nails

For my pooch, this was one of the causes of her smelly ears, scratching.  She would play in the yard and in the dirt, and then scratch and dirt would get in and she would leave little scratches that would get inflamed.

stinky dog earsCredit:

Keeping them trimmed helps to stop dirt build up under the nails.  If you don’t like trimming them because they easily bleed, then you can get a product that stops the bleeding, but you can also keep an old bar of soap around and stick the bleeder into the bar of soap, this will stop it quite quickly.

It also depends on your breed, as some require more cleaning than others, but with my Sasha I have to do this at least once every 2 weeks.  If you are not thrilled with this idea, it might spur you to consider doing this preventative care when you see how much an ear infection can cost at the Veterinarian.   

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Have a supply basket in the hall closet or somewhere easy to find, by having things close at hand you are more likely to do carry out this preventative care and your dog will be happier once it is done because that crud buildup can cause itching and make them miserable as well as create that horrible funky smell. 

I got a big basket from the dollar store and keep her own supplies in it such as the cleaner, the brush the cotton balls, nail trimmers and everything I will need rather than running around the house trying to find supplies and by then she has bolted!

Apple Cider Vinegar

If you don’t want to purchase a commercial product you can make your own with a 50/50 formula of apple cider vinegar and warm water.  Check out this video to see how that works.  But come up with a schedule and if you keep on top of their ears and their nails and at it to their grooming dates, you will get rid of stinky dog ears and save money from costly Veterinarian visits.

If you can bribe someone to help you, it makes it easier.  In the video this is an older dog that doesn’t seem to mind at all, many younger ones might try and bolt, so help is a good thing.  But once it is done you will be amazed how much nicer they smell and can now be social with you in your home again.