When cleaning your dog's ears, you need to make sure that you do it safely and administer the ear solutions and/or medicines (if needed) properly. There are ear cleaning solutions for dogs that are readily available in most dog stores or pet stores. Always consult your veterinarian if you are not sure which dog ear solutions is best for your dog. Proper usage and application of such store-bought solutions must be observed in order to safety and effectively apply them to your dogs ears because improper application could result in serious injuries in your dog's ears.
Early warning signs that your dog's ears need checking and immediate attention is when you started smelling foul odor coming from your dog's ear, or when your dog frequently scratch his/her ear(s) indicating that something is definitely bothering her/him inside her/his ear. Dog ears problems that dog owners may discover from their dog is different, its definitely case to case basis, there are instances that do-it-yourself remedies just wont do it, in some cases, you need to consult your veterinarian especially when there is/are sign of infections or irritations, and you cannot safely perform the treatment or cleaning yourself without making the situation worst or irritate your dog's ears. The rule of thumb is, when in doubt, better leave the cleaning or treatment done by a trained professional that knows how to handle the job safely. Dogs ears can be very delicate, doing things wrongs could possibly damage his/her ears internally especially when it is more than just dirt or cleaning that is required of the situation.
If you are confident enough that all you need is a good cleaning of your dog's ear without the need to go to the vet clinic to inspect your dog, here is a short video clip that may help you how you can properly administer a store-bought dog ear solution to your dog:
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