How to Clean Boston Terrier Ears

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by Lily Ferreras


As part of the grooming routine, you should clean your Boston Terrier’s ears regularly. If you rather not take your pooch to the groomers, you can do it by yourself at home.

Here’s how to clean your Boston Terrier’s ears in six steps:

  1. Choose a spot to clean the ears comfortably.
  2. Inspect the state of the ears and discharge amount.
  3. Apply an ear cleaning solution on the ear canal.
  4. Wipe the ears clean using a cotton ball.
  5. Apply powder, oil, or medication (if necessary).
  6. Reward your Boston Terrier for being patient.

Continue reading to discover find out what supplies you need, the step-by-step guide on how to clean your Boston Terrier’s ears, and how often you should be doing it!

Boston Terrier Ear Cleaning Essentials

Before getting started…

Here are some essential supplies you are going to need for cleaning your Boston Terrier’s ears:

  • Ear cleaner.
  • Cotton balls.
  • Ear powder.
  • Treats.

Ear Cleaner

There’s a wide variety of ear cleaners. You can either go for a homemade solution like water and vinegar mix (very diluted solution to reduce the sting) or get an alcohol free ear cleaner.

Ear cleaners containing alcohol can cause discomfort (sting sensation) if your Boston’s ears are already sore, red or tender. Plus, the sting will likely discourage your pup from sitting down quietly during the next ear cleaning session.

Also, look for an ear cleaning product that has ingredients that will clean off dead cells and will help break up the earwax.

They should be mildly acidic to help kill bacteria and be able to evaporate quickly. That’s why hazel-based ear cleaners are one of the most popular ones.

Water-based solutions or homemade ones have a disadvantage too. Unlike a cleaner, water is hard to completely remove from your dog’s ears. If your dog’s ear canal stays moist, i.e., there’s some stagnant water left there, this creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

Some dog parents prefer grooming wipes, which can be also free of alcohol, parabens and harsh chemicals. However, liquid cleaners can reach further than wipes, getting into all parts of the ears, including your terrier’s ear canals, which is where most ear infections start.

Note: If your Boston Terrier has already been diagnosed with an ear infection, your vet may prescribe a specific ear cleaner with antibacterial properties.

Cotton Balls or Pads

You can use cotton balls or pads to thoroughly clean your Boston Terrier’s ear canal. Also, they will soak up any excess cleaner or moisture after you apply an ear cleaner solution.

However, using cotton swabs can damage your dog’s ear canal since they allow you to reach further down. This can be the case if you Boston happens to shake or move unexpectedly.

Ear Powder or Coconut Oil

Your Boston Terrier’s ears can get itchy (but not red) and/or dry after being cleaned. That’s why you might want to consider purchasing a talc-free baby powder or use some natural oil such as coconut oil (Amazon links).

The powder helps absorb excess moisture and also soothe itchy or irritated ears. Coconut oil, on the other hand, has antiseptic properties that reduce itchiness and also has hydrating properties to combat dryness.


Healthy treats are a great way to reward your dog after cleaning his ears. Check 10 Boston Terrier Treats That Are Species-Appropriate blog post for tips on healthy food rewards.


How to Clean Boston Terrier Ears

You can either do both ears at the same time or fully finish cleaning one before you start on the other one.

Either way, follow these 5 steps to clean your Boston Terrier’s ears:

#1 – Choose A Spot to Clean the Ears Comfortably

Choosing a spot to clean your dog’s ears is important for two reasons:

  1. To avoid distractions (i.e., your dog won’t stay still).
  2. To avoid making a mess (i.e., ear discharge and cleaning solution all over the furniture).

I prefer to do most of the grooming outdoors, in the garden. However, some dogs get very distracted and won’t stay still. I found myself following my Foster Westie around the garden whilst trying to clean his ears, for instance.

If the garden is not an option, you can consider cleaning your pup’s ears in the bathtub (or wherever is easy to clean afterwards).

Insider Tip: Some Bostons shake their heads a lot during grooming, especially when ear cleaning is involved!

#2 – Check the State of the Ears

Before you begin cleaning, take a close look to both of your Boston Terrier’s ears. You want to make sure that the ears are only dirty, not red or with discharge.

If you notice any signs of infection, contact your vet and don’t clean your dog’s ears, as your veterinarian may want to see the discharge. Infections cannot be treated with ear cleaning alone, you will need a prescription from the vet.

However, if both ears look normal and healthy, you can proceed with the cleaning.

#3 – Apply the Ear Cleaning Solution

First, get your pooch to sit in front of you in the chosen spot (step #1 above). Then, gently tilt your dog’s head to one side with your hand and fill your dog’s ear with the cleaning solution.

Your pup’s first reaction will be to shake his head. However, try to hold him still until you have finished cleaning one ear. Once the ear is full of cleaning solution, gently massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds.

After you are done, grab a towel and place it over your pooch’s ear as he shakes the excess cleaner out.

With normal ears, you fill the ear hole with cleaning solution, hold it in there and gently massage for 30 seconds, then let your dog shake out the crud (needless to say, you probably don’t want to be doing this in places at home where you don’t want getting soiled!).

#4 – Wipe Away Excess Cleaner and Discharge

Now it’s time to carefully wipe away the excess moisture with a cotton ball or pad, avoiding going too deep.

Insider Tip: Keeping the ears free of moisture is critical in preventing infection.

If the ear still looks dirty after this step (step #4), you may want to repeat the process until you have removed all of the wax.

#5 – Apply Powder, Oil or Medication (If necessary)

Once both ears are clean and dry, you can apply the ear powder or the coconut oil to sooth possible itchiness and irritation.

However, if your dog has an ear infection, now is the time to apply any prescribed cleaning solution or medication by your vet.

If you have never cleaned your dog’s ears before, consult with your vet and ask for a demonstration to prevent unconsciously harming your pooch.

P.S. Grooming your dog, in general, is something all dog owners should be aware of. You’ll find all the details in our Dog Grooming at Home guide.

#6 – Reward Your Boston Terrier

Finally, for an easy-going grooming routine, reward your Boston’s patient and good behaviour with praises such as “good boy,” a caress and even a treat.

You can take a break between ears and reward him then, or reward your pup after every step. This depends on how comfortable and how much encouragement your pooch needs.

By doing so, you are encouraging his good behaviour and setting a good tone for future ear cleaning sessions.

The goal is for your dog to have a positive association with the ear cleaning routine.


Boston Terrier Ear Care Routine

After looking at how to clean your BT’s ears, let’s see how often you should do it and also what happens if you don’t!

How Often Should You Clean Your Boston Terrier’s Ears?

Your Boston Terrier’s lifestyle, habits, and ear health play a role in how often to clean your pooch’s ears.

As a reference, you can clean your Boston Terrier’s ears every two weeks or every month, depending on how dirty they get or how much wax your dog produces. For instance, if you bath your pooch every month, it’s best to clean his ears afterwards.

Also, if your pup spends a lot of time in the water or swimming, you should clean his ears afterwards to clear out excess moisture.

Cleaning your Boston’s ears regularly will allow you to spot any infection in the early stages and prevent further pain and discomfort for your pooch.

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Your Boston Terrier’s Ears?

Having an ear cleaning routine is vital to the overall health of your Boston Terrier’s ears.

This will not only prevent your dog from contracting ear infections but also enable you to get rid of the wax buildup that always occurs over time.

So, what happens if you don’t?

A warm, dark and moist environment in your dog’s ear creates the ideal conditions for yeast and bacteria to grow. Ear infections can be painful, and severe infections may even impact a Boston Terrier’s ability to hear. 

The infection of the external ear canal, called “Otitis Externa” (outer ear infection), is one of the most common types of infections in dogs.

This is common in floppy ear dogs. Although BT’s have erect ears, they are born with floppy ears. So, you should watch out for possible ear infection signs. Plus, if your pooch has skin allergies, he is probably prone to frequent ear infections.

Ear infections can develop in one or both ears, so it’s vital to check both ears for signs of infection.


Ear Infection Signs

The most common signs of ear infection are:

  • Redness.
  • Itchiness (your dog shakes his head and scratches his ears).
  • Off-colour discharge, black or yellowish (not brown wax).
  • Swelling or inflammation (ears are hot to the touch).
  • Odour.
  • Pain when the ears are touched.

Note: Severe infections may also cause your pooch to lose his balance and/or hearing.

If your Boston Bull Terrier has any of these signs, you should take him to the vet for a check-up so he receives the appropriate treatment.

Ear Infection Treatment

The treatment will depend on the type of infection and if your dog has any damage in the ear canal.

Your vet might give you an ointment or drops to treat the infection. In some cases, oral medications are necessary such as antibiotics, anti-yeast, or anti-inflammatory pills.

However, before giving your dog any prescribed medication, you should clean his ears first.

The length of treatment also depends on:

  • The type of infection.
  • The severity.
  • How your dog responds to the treatment.

Your vet should schedule a follow-up appointment to make sure that the medication is working and the infection is cleared.

Ear Infection Prevention

How do you go about preventing your Boston Terrier from contracting an ear infection?

There’s one preventive approach you can take, and that is to regularly clean his ears.

Check your dog’s ears on a weekly basis, so you know when they get dirty and how often you should be cleaning them. If your dog stays away from water, you might only need to clean them once a month. However, if your dog swims or likes playing with water, you should clean and dry his ears afterwards.

Also, you should check with your vet if you BT pup needs any help to get his ears erect.

Taping is necessary for some Bostons to encourage their ears to stand up and stay that way. Find out more at Boston Terriers Ears – When Do They Stand Up? blog post.

Boston Terrier pups that still have floppy ears.

P.S. Grooming is an important factor for your Boston Terrier’s overall health! For more BT grooming tips, check out How to Groom a Boston Terrier – Basic Guide blog post.

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