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Our pups are more than pets; they’re family. Our roles as pet parents demand we take care of our pooches in every regard, even when it gets a little gross. That includes keeping your dog’s ears clean, fresh, and disease-free. We’ve curated this list of the best dog ear cleaners to treat mites, yeast, stench, or whatever else might be plaguing their furry little noggins.
If you’ve never cleaned your dog’s ears before, it’s pretty simple and straightforward. For liquid solutions, drop the recommended dosage into their canals and massage at the base of their ear to work the solution in. Wipes are pretty intuitive—just wipe your dog’s ears thoroughly. Be sure not to go any deeper than one knuckle deep. Otherwise, you could hurt your dog’s ear canal.
While some people like to make their own solutions at home, we don’t recommend a DIY approach to ear cleaners. Some ingredients may actually be harmful and irritating, or simply not work. Your best bet is to get with a vet-approved formula that you know will do a good job. We’ve rounded up the five best dog ear cleaners for a variety of needs, so you can keep your pup friends healthy and happy—and hearing all your praise.
- Best natural formula: Burt’s Bees Peppermint
- Best for dogs with smelly ears: Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash Dry Kit
- Best for mites: Four Paws Medication for Ear Mites for Dogs
- Best for puppies: Pet MD Ear Wipes
- Best for dogs with yeast: Virbac Epi Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner
How we chose the best dog ear cleaners
In order to choose the best dog ear cleaners, we relied on a variety of sources, including user experiences, government approvals, veterinarian feedback, and extensive research. Our primary consideration was to find dog products that are safe as well as effective. Remedying your dog’s stinky ears shouldn’t cause other problems, even if they’re minor. We will reiterate that dogs are living beings, though, and their reactions can be unpredictable, so take a cautious approach with your pooch, consult a vet before doing any cleaning, and carefully monitor how your canine reacts to the cleaners.
What to look for in the best dog ear cleaners
In order to be sure your dog is getting adequate care and safe ingredients, we only chose formulas that are either vet-approved or vet-formulated. Trust the experts!
Look for salicylic acid and lactic acid for bacteria and yeast fighting, hydrocortisone or aloe vera for soothing irritated skin, and ketoconazole for antifungal support. Avoid unnecessary additives and scents.
If your dog is a swimmer, you may need a drying formula. If your dog has super stinky ears, he may need an antibacterial solution. Look for the right formula for your dog’s specific needs and lifestyle. You don’t want to apply medicine your furry pal doesn’t need.
If, for any reason, your dog doesn’t react well to a solution, stop using it immediately and consult your vet. Waiting it out can be a bad idea that can do permanent damage to your dog’s ears or worse if left untreated.
The best dog ear cleaners: Reviews & Recommendations
Best natural formula: Burt’s Bees Peppermint
Why it made the cut: This all-natural ear wash for dogs is a cruelty-free, gentle, vet-recommended formula, that’s devoid of fragrances, sulfates, and colorants.
- 4 oz
- pH balanced formula
- Free of harsh chemicals
- Few ingredients
- pH balanced
- Widely available
- Some ear conditions may require a stronger formula
- Drop hole is tiny; may need widening
Made with witch hazel, peppermint oil, and not much else, this all-natural ear solution for dogs comes in a super easy-to-use bottle. Just squeeze 2-4 drops of the solution in your dog’s ear canal to remove excess moisture and keep those ears hygienic. We also love that this solution is multiuse: you can use this ear cleaner on your pup’s paws, nose, or eyes
It’s pH balanced to prevent irritation, naturally free of any harsh chemicals, sulfates, fragrances, and colorants, and gentle enough for puppies. Reviewers love the smell and the gentle ingredients—witch hazel naturally removes oil build-up, while peppermint soothes irritation.
Burt’s Bees is inexpensive and available in most stores or online, making it a very accessible option for most pet owners.
Best for dogs with smelly ears: Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash Dry Kit
Why it made the cut: Combat smell by targeting bacteria and fungal infections with this wash and dry kit that uses natural, great-smelling ingredients like chamomile, clove oil, tea tree oil, and aloe vera.
- 2-step solution; 4 oz each
- 2-step solution for cleaning and drying
- Natural smelling/no harsh chemical smell
- Some dogs don’t like the dry formula fragrance
A smart, two-step solution for combating odor, irritation, wax build-up, and bacteria, this great-smelling ear flush for dogs is meant to help extend times between ear cleanings. With natural ingredients—including chamomile, clove oil, tea tree oil, and aloe vera—not only can you eliminate fungus and bacteria, but you leave the ears smelling great without those harsh chemical smells.
This formula is alcohol-free, nonstinging, and fast-acting. Many reviewers noted that after just a week, many conditions like sores, itching, infections, gunk, and stench were completely cleared or mostly healed.
For each step, simply drop the solution into the ear canals and massage the ear base to work the solution in. The dry formula will dry like a powder to keep the ear canals from accumulating excess moisture, which can lead to bacteria, yeast, and consequently, poor smell.
Best for mites: Four Paws Medication for Ear Mites for Dogs
Why it made the cut: This is the best dog ear cleaner for mites because this fast-acting solution contains pyrethrin to kill mites and soothing aloe vera to help heal painful itching and discomfort.
- 0.75 oz
- Kills mites on contact
- Contains soothing aloe vera
- Specially formulated to kill mites on contact
- Contains effective pyrethrin
- Dropper can be annoying to use
- Very expensive for the size
- Hazardous to cats
The Four Paws Dog Ear Mite Remedy is made with the active ingredient pyrethrin to kill ear mites on contact. Packaged in a small squeeze tube, simply squeeze a few drops into your dog’s mite-infested ears to eliminate those nightmarish pests. This formula also contains aloe vera for itch and irritation relief caused by the mites.
This dog ear cleaning solution can also help to remove ear wax buildup so your dog can better hear all your commands (and praise).
Note: This solution is hazardous to cats, so be aware if you also have cats in your household. It’s harmful to humans if swallowed—so keep it in a safe, protected place out of children’s reach. Some reviewers also noted the dropper can be annoying to use, so it may need to be widened with a pin for easier access.
Best for puppies: Pet MD Ear Wipes
Why it made the cut: Great for on-the-go use, this 100 sheet pack of eucalyptus and aloe vera dog ear wipes is the best puppy ear cleaner for hyperactive pups who don’t want to sit still.
- Vet formulated
- 100 wipes
- Convenient for on the go use
- Made in USA in FDA, USDA and FSIS-regulated manufacturing facility
- Vet formulated
- Both cleans and soothes
- Especially good for removing gunk and wax
- Strong fragrance unfavorable to some
- Small wipes, could be bigger
- May have to use multiple wipes for each session
Gentle on the ear skin but tough on bacteria, build-up, and odors, these alcohol-free ear cleaning wipes are great for any aged dog with crusty and stinky ears. Many reviewers noted that they love how much easier wipes are to use than the liquid alternatives, especially for removing wax and gunk, which cling to the wipes.
These veterinarian-formulated, pre-moistened wipes are scientifically developed to gently yet effectively help prevent ear infections, remove discharge, and keep your dog’s ears clean between baths. Soothing aloe vera and eucalyptus oil help to simultaneously relieve itching and irritation, while leaving a fresh scent behind. Some find the scent a bit strong, but this is up to personal preference.
One downside to note is that the wipes are a bit tiny; you may need to use several per ear.
Best for dogs with yeast: Virbac Epi Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner
Why it made the cut: As the best ear cleaner for dogs with yeast this product is recommended for dogs with chronic otitis externa, or “Swimmer’s Ear,” this formula uses salicylic acid and anti-adhesive glycotechnology to prevent yeast and microbial build-up in dogs’ ears.
- 4 oz or 8 oz
- Highly recommended by Vets
- Prevents yeast
- Vet recommended
- Low pH
- Dries the ear canal
- Hazardous to pet’s eyes
- More expensive than other brands
Yeast infections cause discomfort, pain, and itching for your dogs. This non-irritating, pleasant-smelling solution has a low pH, patented anti-odor technology, and comes highly recommended by veterinarians. Customers claim this dog ear cleaner works wonders for their pet’s otitis externa, or Swimmer’s Ear, a (sometimes chronic) inflammation of the outer ear canal.
Yeast can build up for a number of reasons, but mainly due to high humidity levels trapped inside the ear, where yeast thrives. This can be from humid weather, excessive ear sweat, or just simply because your dog loves to swim! The Epi-Otic Advanced is formulated with anti-adhesive glycotechnology to prevent yeast and microbes from attaching to the ear canal, helping to eliminate yeast.
This solution also contains 0.2% salicylic acid for added cleansing and yeast prevention. Unlike natural formulas, this formula is hazardous to your dog’s eyes!
Q: How often should a dog’s ears be cleaned?
How often you clean your dog’s ear depends on the type of dog, length of ears, lifestyle, and pre-existing conditions. In general, once per month should suffice. However, if your dog has noticeably smelly ears, is often shaking his head or scratching at his ears, frequently swims, lives in a super humid area, or exhibits excessive gunk and build-up, you may need to move to once a week or every other week.
Q: Are ear cleaners good for dogs?
Ear cleaners are good for dogs, as long as you do your research on brand and formula. All of the formulas we recommended are vet-approved and do not contain any unsafe ingredients.
Q: What is the best antibacterial ear cleaner for dogs?
The best antibacterial ear cleaner for dogs are formulas that contain both a gentle cleansing solution and a soothing ingredient to both combat bacteria and calm the skin. Soothing the skin can help to prevent further irritation (irritation can lead to more bacteria build-up). Look for ingredients like salicylic acid, lactic acid, or other natural compounds to gently kill bacteria.
A final thought about the best dog ear cleaners
Cleaning out your dog’s ear is essential to helping your fur baby maintain optimal hygiene and health. Whether you’re combating a funky smell, mites, or excessive gunk, look for a solution that is antibacterial as well as soothing and calming to the skin. Remember to check their ears after baths and post-swims, and clean them at least once per month.