Dog Ear Cleaner

dog ear cleaner

The best dog ear cleaner focuses on resolving or preventing a specific health problem. Dogs with floppy ears are very prone to ear infections, as the droop to their ears creates a warm, damp breeding ground for bacteria. Other dogs with small or hairy ear canals can find themselves repeatedly having a waxy build up. Dog ear cleaners can resolve and prevent these issues with regular use.

But not all dogs need their ears cleaning. Healthy eared dogs can find themselves irritated or even developing infections as a result of a product being inappropriately used.


When Do I Need to Use a Dog Ear Cleaner?

Ear cleaning is a preventative measure every dog owner should take. Regular ear cleaning not only ensures your pooch’s ears are kept clean and infection free. It is also a great opportunity to keep an eye on what is happening inside your dog’s ears. Dogs with pendulous ears are more likely to have trouble with ear infections.

Wet ears tend to get infected, so if your dog is a keen swimmer, you may need to apply an astringent to help dry it out.

As a preventative measure, dog ear cleaner is a highly successful way to maintain the health of your dog’s ears. Excessive build-up of ear wax is one of the main contributing factors to problems developing inside your dog’s ears. One study in 2006 found that using simple saline solution as an ear cleaner is a cheap and effective way to break up excess ear wax.

dog ear cleaner

How To Use Dog Ear Cleaner

To clean out a dog’s ears, wet a cotton ball with the saline solution. Open the dog’s ear and gently place the ball in the ear. While holding the top of the ear open, gently massage the bottom part of your dog’s ear. You might hear a squelching sound — this is fine. After a bit of squelching, pull the cotton ball back out, and give your dog’s ear some time to dry.

Your dog may also want to shake its head a bit. This too is fine, as it may help dislodge wax that has been softened by the cleaning solution. If you are worried about how your dog will react to having their ears cleaned out, make sure you remain calm and positive while you carry out this activity. Convince your furry friend that this is a rewarding experience.

And in reality, it certainly is! Just like cleaning human ears, you should never use a cotton bud to clean out your dog’s ears. Using this could push wax further down the ear and cause more issues for your pooch.

If your dog has an infection in their ear/s, or seems to be experiencing some sort of discomfort, you should take your dog to the vet. Under the vet’s guidance, you may need to administer some more specialised form of treatment to resolve the issue.

Is a Human Ear Cleaner a Good Ear Cleaner for Dogs?

You should not put any medicated solution inside your dog’s ears that has not been checked and approved by a vet first. That includes ear cleaner that is meant for humans. Additionally, home remedies, particularly ones that involve vinegar (even diluted) should not be used in your dog’s ears. Some ingredients can further inflame the inside of the ear and result in more discharge.

distemper in dogs

What Conditions Can You Treat with Dog Ear Cleaner?

The most common cause of ear discomfort in dogs is otitis externa. This is a condition characterized by redness, swelling, itchiness, increased discharge from the ear, and scaly skin. A number of factors may be responsible for this condition developing. A trip to the vet is important to determine what the root cause of the issue is. We will talk about the most causes for otitis externa, and how they are treated below.

Dog Ear Infections

If your dog is suffering from a bacterial ear infection, your vet may suggest topical application of a product that contains antibacterial properties. They will most likely want to regularly check on your pooch’s progress, perhaps weekly or bi-weekly. At these appointments they will perform further cleaning and tests to ensure that the infection has gone.

Typically, it can take up to four weeks for your dog’s ears to fully heal. If your dog’s ear infection is severe, along with antibacterial drugs, your vet may also prescribe corticosteroids. These will help to reduce the pain, swelling and discharge.

Anti Fungal Dog Ear Cleaners

Yeast is a type of fungus. So, while you may hear these conditions referred to as if they are different issues, they are in fact one and the same. If your dog has a fungal ear infection, your vet will prescribe antifungal medication. This treatment will be administered and monitored in a similar manner to a bacterial infection as mentioned above.

Some infections (bacterial and fungal) can take months to go away, and some conditions are chronic in nature. If this is the case, your pooch will need to stay on the treatment prescribed by your vet.

Dog Ear Wax Cleaner

Excess ear wax is the precursor to most dog ear infections, so preventative ear cleaning is the best way to keep on top of this. If a lot of wax has already accumulated in the ear, then your veterinarian may need to perform the first couple of cleans. Your dog’s ears may be sore, and sometimes the dog needs to be anaesthetised to perform the clean to avoid injury to both you and your dog.

Your vet may need to carefully remove other foreign items inside the ear, such as hair. If the build-up is thick and waxy, your vet may need to use a cerumenolytic solution. This will work to break up the wax before any other treatments will penetrate to the skin.

Generally, after a couple of checks and cleans performed by your vet, the associated pain and infection may have cleared enough for you to start gently cleaning your dog’s ears in line with your veterinarian’s instructions.

Gentle Ear Cleaner for Dogs

To clean out ears that are not irritated and infected already, it is best to use saline eye wash solution. These you can buy online* and administer yourself. The saline solution is made up of salts and water is specific concentrations. This will not irritate the skin in the ear.

Homemade Dog Ear Cleaners

Searching for the best natural dog ear cleaner undoubtedly springs from the best intentions, as many loving pet owners worry about exposing their pooches to strong chemicals that are not “natural”. There are a multitude of products available to purchase or make yourself at home that claim to be organic dog ear cleaner. Often, they contain essential oils or products you can find in the kitchen.

It is not recommended to use such remedies. For instance, products containing vinegar, even if it is diluted, can irritate and inflame the skin inside your dog’s ear and create further problems. In fact, one study published in 2006 found that ear cleaners made on olive oil and other oils were ineffective in breaking up ear wax. Interestingly, saltwater solutions started to break up ear wax within 15-20 minutes.

Medicated Dog Ear Cleaners

While in most cases a dog ear infection is not life threatening and can be easily treated. However, it can at times be the result of a more sinister underlying health issue. These include tumors, chronic skin conditions, parasitic infestations, allergies, and autoimmune diseases, just to name a few.

It is vital to determine the cause of the problem before you start treating it. Furthermore, it is also important that the treatment used is appropriate and will not make the problem worse. Home remedies have not been clinically trialled; therefore, their efficacy and safety cannot be guaranteed.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson

For maintenance cleaning, saline eye wash solution, as we have mentioned earlier in this article, is safe and gentle. It is basically a pH balanced solution made up of dissolved sodium chloride in water. Caring owners need not worry that this type of cleaner will cause any harm to a dog’s long-term wellbeing.

Our guide to the best dog ear cleaners - Dog health and care products.

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The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website