As much as physicians warn against using a cotton-tipped applicator such as a Q-tip for cleaning debris from your ears because of the risks for puncturing an eardrum and impacting wax, using one for cleaning a dogs ears comes with even more risks. The canine ear canal is long and tapered and takes an almost 90-degree turn about halfway in, going abruptly from down to across. (See illustration.) If you insert a cotton swab, the fluffy tip will begin to fill the entire width of the ear canal as soon as it approaches that tight turn. That means you end up pushing wax and dirt deeper into the canal rather than removing it. Theres no room to do a bit of scraping along the sides and pull out the gunk. In fact, if you apply just a little too much pressure, the material you want to get rid of can be pushed right through the eardrum. Sometimes the cotton-tipped swab itself gets pushed with enough force to perforate the eardrum.