As a dog person, you often go out of your way to buy your pet the best, whether it’s a new bed, toys, or pet food. But what about grooming products? Do you routinely clean your dog’s ears as often as you should? Using dog ear cleaners is an important part of your pet’s grooming routine, since dirty ears can lead to health issues. Some pets will go their entire lives without running into any issues with their ears, however, certain breeds are prone to itchy, irritated, and gunky ear issues. Using the best dog ear cleaner will help you stay on top of regular care and maintenance and can prevent serious complications that can arise without proper treatment, such as ear infections and yeast infections.
I’ve done all the research for you, to create this buyer’s guide, which discusses what you need to look for in a product that can keep your dog’s ears clean and healthy, without causing irritation. I’ve also tested out several of the top cleaners, narrowing it down to six that have what it takes to get rid of waxy buildup, debris, yeast, and more. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each ear cleaner, how it rated, active ingredients, and other important information that can help you choose a cleaner that can provide relief, while offering tough cleaning power.
Dog Ear Cleaner Comparison Chart
Best Dog Ear Cleaner-Zymox Otic Pet Ear Cleaner
Zymox Otic pet ear cleaner can be a lifesaver for the pet owner that has a dog who is prone to yeast infections. This product is affordable, effective, and often recommended by veterinarians. It’s designed for use in both cats and dogs and can instantly provide relief for ears that are red, swollen, tender, and inflamed. Unlike competing products, this dog ear cleaning solution will not burn or cause discomfort, even if the skin is broken. This product is a multitasking powerhouse that can treat both bacterial and fungal ear infection. The Otic pet ear treatment cleaner contains 1% hydrocortisone that immediately works to alleviate inflammation and itchiness. The LP3 enzyme system promotes ear health while removing ear secretions and gunk buildup. Treatment can consist of once daily use for a period of one to two weeks, depending on the severity of the infection.
- Hydrocortisone 1%
- Powerful cleaning solution for both cats and dogs
- Soothes and provides immediate relief
- Does not burn or irritate broken skin
- Can treat fungal and yeast infections
- Not designed to treat severe bacterial ear infections
The Otic pet ear treatment by Zymox treats inflammation of the external ear that’s caused by yeast, viral, and bacterial ear infections. In fact, it’s safe enough to use weekly in pets who are prone to yeast and bacterial infections. The main active ingredient is the patented LP3 enzyme system, with hydrocortisone added to provide immediate relief for pets with mild to moderate infections.
Best Natural Dog Ear Cleaning Solution-Vet Organics EcoEars Dog Ear Cleaner
This multi-action dog ear cleaning solution by Vet Organics can be used to remove gunk and treat ears that are itchy or that have a foul odor. This product contains natural ingredients that are designed to soothe irritated tissue, however, it should be noted that this product should not be used on skin that is broken as it can cause burning and further worsen irritation. Using this ear cleanser will remove wax buildup, can minimize inflammation and can provide instant relief.
- Gentle enough for weekly use
- Contains all-natural ingredients
- Reduces inflammation
- Low price
- Strong chemical smell
EcoEars by Vet Organics is designed to provide fast relief for dogs with fungal or mild bacterial infections, however, it should not be used in place of professional veterinarian treatment. If your dog has never experienced ear issues in the past, it’s recommended that you contact your vet for further treatment advice. This product, while gentle on dog ears, does cause a burning sensation when it’s used on broken skin. It can also cause discomfort if used on severe infections in cases in which the ear canal is severely inflamed or punctured. If you’re looking for gentle, all-natural dog ear cleaning solutions, this formula by Vet Organics is a great choice.
Best Dog Ear Cleaning Solution for Sensitive Ears-VetWELL Dog Ear Cleaner Solution & Infection Treatment
This product has been formulated by a veterinarian and is designed to work instantly and effectively to treat ear fungal infections in dogs. This ear cleaner contains ketoconazole that combats yeast and also helps to remove ear wax buildup and debris. It also won’t cause your pet pain or discomfort if it’s used on broken skin. Designed to provide instant relief for dogs who have yeasty, swollen, and itchy ears, this product can also be used to prevent recurring fungal infections. The powerful formula is gentle on the skin and will not sting, burn, or cause discomfort.
- Gentle on broken skin
- Can provide instant relief
- Can prevent ear issues in the future
- Removes ear wax and debris
- Not recommended for severe ear infections
- Product has a strong floral scent
If you’re looking for safe and gentle ear cleaning solutions, this product is perfect for use in pets with fungal infections, or dirty or itchy ears. Unlike some competing products, this ear cleaning solution is gentle enough to be used on broken skin and can provide your pet with immediate relief. It helps to eliminate fungi, bacteria, and flushes out the ears to get rid of dirt, debris, and gunk. It’s also safe enough to use daily, when your pet is suffering from a fungal infection and can be used once weekly as a preventative treatment.
Best Dog Ear Cleaning Wipes-VetWELL Dog Ear Wipes
These wipes provide a fast, easy, and less messy way to gently clean your pet’s ears. They’re perfect for regular use and can help prevent earwax buildup and ear infections. These wipes are also alcohol free, so they can be used on broken, inflamed skin and will not cause burning or further irritation. These dog ear cleanser wipes contain aloe vera and eucalyptus, both of which will naturally soothe and moisturize dry skin and irritated tissue. The wipes are designed to reduce itching and ear odor and can prevent bacterial infections.
- Easy application
- Perfect for sensitive ears
- Contains aloe vera
- Great choice for routine ear care
- Cannot reach earwax buildup in ear canals
- Cannot treat bacterial or fungal infections
These are the best dog ear wipes for pets who are not currently suffering from an ear infection due to bacteria or fungi. Instead, the wipes are best used as a preventative treatment and can be used to remove dirt, debris, and waxy buildup. These wipes are perfect for on the go ear cleanings, routine maintenance, and can help soothe ear irritation caused by dry weather, ear wax buildup, or seasonal allergies.
Best Choice for Canine Ear Infections-Lively Pets Dog Ear Cleaner and Ear Infection Treatment
This cleanser contains salicylic acid and is designed to not only remove debris and earwax buildup, but can also help treat ear mites and fight against infection. These ear cleaners with salicylic acid will eliminate harmful bacteria and can prevent infections in the future. Just like in people, dogs with ear infections experience pain and discomfort, especially when their ears are cleaned with harsh chemicals, such as alcohol. Fortunately, this product is alcohol-free and contains soothing aloe that’s gentle on the skin and moisturizing. When you clean your dog’s ears with this product, you’ll notice results right away, especially if they have ear mites. This product is an antifungal antiseptic. It contains EDTA, which is designed to eliminate both fungi and bacteria, working effectively to clean a dog’s ear canals, reducing signs of infection and ear mites.
- Contains salicylic acid
- Gentle on irritated tissue
- Contains EDTA
- Kills ear mites
- Antifungal antiseptic cleanser
- Easy to use
- Strong chemical smell
The combination of salicylic acid and EDTA does not burn damaged tissue. This cleaner is designed to leave the ear canal clean, while killing harmful germs that can cause a painful infection. Immediately after treatment, you will notice a reduction in head tilting, shaking, and scratching. Regular use with this cleaner will flush out debris and wax and will kill mites, prevent or eliminate odors, and can remove earwax buildup, dirt, and debris, all of which can cause chronic ear problems in some dogs.
Best Value-Pet MD Veterinary Tris Flush Dog Ear Cleaner
This non-stinging, mild ear cleaner is specially formulated to be gentle on the skin and hard on bacteria. The active ingredient ketoconazole helps to restore the natural biological environment in a pet’s ears, while fighting bacteria and yeast. The product is designed to sooth scaly, irritated skin, minimizes inflammation, and removes debris and wax from the ear canal. To use, you’ll apply the drops directly into the ear canal, then massage as directed. You can use a cotton ball to remove any remaining product from the ears, after your pet has shaken their head. The cleaner is designed to work immediately, for instant relief from itchy, painful, infections.
- Designed to treat otitis externa
- Removes wax build up
- Easy to use
- Recommended for sensitive ears
- Poor nozzle design can cause pet owners to use too much product
While these drops should not be used in place of veterinarian care, if your dog is prone to ear problems, then regular use of these drops can help prevent an infection in the future.
If your dogs need to have ear cleanings often, this gentle cleaner is perfect for use once a week in pets prone to infection. It can also be used once a month for maintenance, or daily if your pet currently has an infection.
Dog Ear Cleaner Buyer’s Guide
In some cases, cleaning your dog’s ears can be a challenge, especially if your pup has a hard time tolerating the treatment.
In this buyer’s guide, you’ll find all the information you need to choose a product that will work for man’s best friend, depending on their breed, and whether you’re performing a little routine grooming, or your pet is dealing with a stubborn yeast infection.
This guide will cover the following information:
- When to clean a dog’s ears
- Ear problems in dogs
- Factors to consider
- How to use ear cleaners for dogs
- Avoid home remedies
- Frequently asked questions
The right pup ear cleaner for your pet can depend on why your pet needs an ear cleaning. A mild cleaner can be a great choice for regular maintenance or to remove debris and waxy buildup. Yeast is a common cause of uncomfortable, swollen, and itchy ears. Some cleaners contain antifungal ingredients that can work to treat even the most stubborn yeast infection. A dog with an ear infection should be seen by their vet, who can prescribe a prescription-strength antibacterial ear cleanser.
Now, I’ll start this buyer’s guide off by discussing how often ears should be cleaned and why it’s important to not overuse a cleaner.
When to Clean a Dog’s Ears
Once a week, check your dog’s ears to see if they’re dirty, there’s any waxy buildup, or there’s unusual discharge, all of which can indicate a dog ear infection. If your pup is prone to ear problems, such as yeast or earwax buildup, using ear cleaning products too often can make matters worse. Ear cleaners can help prevent wax build up or a bacteria or yeast infection. I recommend checking your dog’s ears once a week. If they’re dirty, you can use the best dog ear cleaner to remove any debris, yeast, or wax buildup, to keep your pet’s ears clean and healthy. If the ears look fine, then use of this type of product once a month should be sufficient.
Ear Problems in Dogs
Yeast and bacterial infections are the two most common ear issues in dogs. In dogs that are prone to yeast or bacterial infections, regular use of the best dog ear cleaners can help to prevent them.
A bacterial infection is the most common ear issue in dogs. Symptoms can include
- Lack of balance
- Inside of the ear is hot to the touch
- Difficulty chewing
- Head shaking
- Temporary deafness
- Pupils that are different in size
- Bulging eardrum
If you suspect that your pooch may have a bacterial infection, make an appointment with your vet. A vet will run diagnostic tests to determine the type of bacteria, in order to choose an antibiotic that can best treat it. They may also order other types of tests to see if the infection has spread to other areas of the body.
If your dog suffers from chronic ear infections, a cleaner can help to prevent infections in the future.
Airborne allergies and food allergies are often to blame for recurring yeast infections in dogs. Both types of allergies can result in excess oil on the skin, which can make the eardrum the perfect place for yeast to grow.
Yeast overgrowth symptoms include:
- Foul odor
- Head tilting
- Head shaking
- Trouble with balance
- Crusty or scaly skin
- Hair loss around the ears
- Bloody, yellow, or dark brown ear discharge
In some cases, it can be difficult to determine whether dogs have a bacteria infection or a yeast infection. The best way to determine which type of infection your dog is dealing with is to make an appointment with their vet, who can run some simple tests to identify the underlying culprit. However, a foul odor is often the best indicator that your dog is dealing with yeast overgrowth. Many vets can easily diagnose a yeast infection just by looking at and smelling the ears. Symptoms of Airborne Allergies
Just like people, some dogs are allergic to certain airborne allergens, such as dust or pollen. These allergies usually flare up during certain times of the year. However, for some dogs, airborne allergens can bother them all year long.
Symptoms of airborne allergies can include:
- Ear infections
- Runny eyes or nasal discharge
- Itchy skin
In some cases, a vet can prescribe allergy medication, however, minimizing your pet’s exposure to allergens during certain times of year can also help to minimize these symptoms.
Fortunately, you can use a canine ear cleaner to help alleviate some symptoms related to airborne allergies. The best dog ear cleaners can help by soothing itchy irritated skin and can remove allergens such as dust and pollen.
Some of the most common food allergens include dairy, grains, proteins, and eggs.
Like with airborne allergies, using a cleaner can provide some relief, although dietary changes must be made to prevent flare ups in the future.
The best dog ear cleaners can also be used to treat mites. While cats are more susceptible to ear mites than dogs, if your dog spends plenty of time outdoors, or you have indoor/outdoor cats in the home, then your dog is at a higher risk of a mite infestation.
Symptoms of a mite infestation include:
- Foul smell from ears
- Discharge that looks like coffee grounds
- Head tilting
- Scratching at the ears
- Waxy, dark discharge
Mites can easily be identified under the microscope and look like white moving specks.
You can use an ear cleaning product that contains anti-parasitic properties that are designed to smother the mites while removing debris. These products will provide your pooch with instant relief from inflammation and general irritation, while eliminating the mite population.
Debris in the ears is a common problem with dogs that spend most of their time outdoors. Dirt, debris, and gunk can easily get trapped in the ear canal and under the ear flaps. Using a cleaner can remove built-up gunk, which can help prevent an ear infection.
Types of Dog Ear Cleaners
Ear cleaning products can come in a variety of forms, whether it’s drops, cleaning solution, or pet wipes.
Liquid solution can make it deeper into the ear canal, for a more thorough cleaning.
Wipes are less messy, but obviously do not allow you to get down deep into the ear canal to remove ear wax buildup. However, they’re great for large breed indoor/outdoor dogs who tend to get dirt and debris stuck in their ears after a long day of playing in the yard.
Factors to Consider
Aside from choosing between wipes and liquid ear cleaners, you’ll also need to choose an active ingredient, based on why you need to use a cleaner. Below, I’ll go over what to look for in an ear cleaner and how these cleaners can help.
Before you buy dog ear cleaners, take a look at the product’s active ingredients. Depending on why you need the cleaner, you’ll need to keep your eye out for certain types of active ingredients, in addition to their strength. For example, for a yeast infection, you’ll want to use dog ear cleaners that have an antifungal active ingredient, such as ketoconazole. These cleaners may also contain a type of mild steroid, such as hydrocortisone, which can help reduce inflammation and relieve itchiness.
If dog ears feel tender, there’s broken skin, or redness, look for an ear cleaner that contains natural ingredients such as green tea, aloe vera, or turmeric, all of which are soothing and can help reduce inflammation. If the ears look normal, with no inflammation, then you can use a product that contains alcohol, to help break down waxy buildup.
How to Use Ear Cleaner for Dogs
Do dogs like having their ears cleaned? In most cases, no. However, if they have inflamed, irritated ears, the right dog ear cleaning solutions can provide immediate relief.
Cleaning your dog’s ears can still be a challenge, especially if your pooch has sensitive ears, he or she doesn’t like to have their ears touched, or your pet has had them cleaned in the past and didn’t like the feel of the liquid in their ear canal.
Regardless of whether you’re using the cleaner to prevent a future bacterial infection, treating excess earwax, or treating a yeast infection, cleaning a dog’s ears using a cleaner will be the same procedure.
- First, you’ll lift your dog’s ear flap, tilting their head to prevent the cleaner from spilling out of the ear canals. Add the solution. Make sure you follow the instructions on the bottle, in terms of how many drops to apply. Avoid touching the nozzle of the bottle to the ear.
- Next, you’ll allow the cleaner to remain in the ear canal for ten to thirty seconds, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. During this time, you will massage the base of the ear. This will help to loosen any debris.
- Use a paper towel or gauze to gently wipe out the ears to remove debris.
- Release your dog and allow them to shake their head to get rid of any remaining cleaner in the ear canal.
- Repeat these steps for the other ear.
And that’s all there is to it. Make sure you do your part and reward your dog for sitting for the cleaning by giving them a treat. This can help make the next cleaning a little easier and may even cause your dog to look forward to the process.
Avoid Home Remedies
You may have heard that clove oil, hydrogen peroxide, and aloe vera alone can instantly clear up an infection or remove waxy build up. However, some home remedies can work against you, making the infection even worse. Additionally, hydrogen peroxide can cause a secondary infection, if there’s a tear in the eardrum. This can lead to fluid build up, and issues with yeast as well. If your pet has never had an issue with their ears before, speak with your vet regarding what pet products to use or to determine if your pet needs to be seen. In some cases, a serious dog ear infection can require prescription strength ear wash.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Use to Clean My Dog’s Ears at Home?
Make sure to avoid using home remedies when cleaning ears. This includes hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and vinegar. These products can cause further irritation, especially if your dog has an ear infection or the skin is irritated. Use over the counter pet products that are specifically designed for dogs instead.
How Can I Treat My Dog’s Ear Infection Without Going to the Vet?
Using an over the counter ear cleaning product may do the trick, but if you do not see any improvement within two to three days of treatment, you must make an appointment for your canine to be seen to prevent any serious complications such as a ruptured eardrum or permanent deafness.
How Do I Get Rid of the Smell in My Dog’s Ears?
If your dog’s ears have a foul-smelling odor, they may have a yeast infection. Use an ear cleaner that’s specifically designed to treat yeast. Follow the product’s instructions closely and repeat as needed.
The best dog ear cleaners can prevent yeast infections and bacterial infections in dogs who are prone to them. Cleaning your pet’s ears with dog ear cleaners at least once a month is important. Doing so can remove earwax buildup, can remove dirt and debris, and can even improve their hearing. If your pup is prone to chronic ear infections or yeast infections, using a cleaner two to three times a month can be the best way to prevent serious ear issues in the future. With this buyer’s guide and my list of the best dog ear cleaners on the market, you should have no trouble finding the right cleaner that can provide instant relief from inflammation and irritation, and the best dog ear cleaners that promote ear health and can prevent issues with yeast and bacteria in the future.