An essential part of your dog’s grooming, along with bathing, brushing the fur, dental care and manicure are cleaning the dog’s ears with best ear cleaner. Dogs have a much stronger sense of hearing than humans do and thus are more sensitive when it comes to the health of their ears.

Cleaning your dog’s ears should become your usual grooming process once every week, or a couple of weeks, depending on the breed and health of your dog. It is a terrifying fact that one of every five dogs have some form of ear disease – don’t let your dog become one of them.

What is a dog ear cleaner and how does it work?

Dog ear cleaner is a specialized part of the grooming equipment used to (surprisingly) clean your dog’s ears. It is basically a liquid solution with an antiseptic ingredient that also has antibacterial properties for the maximum safety of your pet.

Dogs have specifically built ears, almost vertical inner ear with lots of excess space that is just begging for bacterias, parasites or fungus to occupy. The cleaning solution dissolves the excess wax, kills the parasites and bacterias and helps to remove any unnecessary objects from the ear.

By regularly cleaning your dog’s ears, you can prevent any infection that can lead even to hearing impairment, and keep your dog healthy.

Types of ear cleaners (and pros and cons for each)

Types of ear cleaners (and pros and cons for each)

Currently, there are two safe ways to clean your dog’s ears: drops and wipes, all with their advantages and disadvantages. Your job is to study the properties of each type and then decide what suits your dog the most.


Drops are a liquid type of dog ear cleaner, that have very similar modus operandi as the eye drops. Simply pour few drops into your dog’s ear canal, give it a little massage so it can reach remote parts of the inner ear and leave it for a few moments to do their magic.

Liquid ear cleaner will soften the excess wax, filth or anything else that can be found in your dog’s ear and your dog will remove it by vigorously shaking its head.

However, the shaking part will cause a serious mess, so the best idea is to do the cleaning outside, and also you will need some cotton balls for detailed cleaning of your dog’s flap ear.


Cleaning wipes resemble the wet wipes that we commonly use in most aspects of our lives. They are soft, made from cotton, and soaked in a healing solution, so you can easily clean the surface parts of the ear.

However, they are almost useless when it comes to the inside of the ear unless you have pretty petit fingers.

Wipes vs liquid ear cleaner – which should you choose

Wipes vs liquid ear cleaner - which should you choose

It really depends on the health state of your pooch. If your dog already has an inner ear infection or a tendency for it, it is better to use the liquid ear cleaner. On the other hand, if your dog has no ear issues, the wipes can be a great everyday solution.

What makes a great dog ear cleaner

What makes a great dog ear cleaner

The formula for your needs

The majority of the ear cleaners are multipurpose and will cover the most usual ear problems that might occur. However, for special cases, you are going to need a specialized formula that is made strictly to deal with a specific issue.


Be sure to always check the ingredients on your dog’s ear cleaner, as some may be very harmful to your dog, especially the ones coming from unchecked sellers.

A great dog cleaner should never contain preservatives, artificial fragrances or any kind of drying agents.

  • Preservatives – Preservatives lengthen the shelf-life of ear cleaners, but such can cause allergic reactions, especially for dogs with pre-existing skin irritations.
  • Drying agents – Drying agents are usually alcohol, chlorothymol, or menthol that are added to the formula to help minimize moisture in dogs’ ears. However, some dogs exhibit negative reactions to these drying agents, and hence they are best avoided.
  • Artificial fragrance – “Fragrance” is merely a moniker for “chemicals”. Since companies do not disclose the ingredients, they use to create fragrances, there is no way to determine its safety.

Does spending more means more quality

Although the higher price doesn’t have to mean that the product has more quality than the cheaper ones, it should alarm you if something is too cheap to be true.

Do your homework, inform yourself about the ingredients and properties that every high-quality ear cleaner should possess, and never make a decision that is based on the price itself. Of course, better products will also cost a few pennies more but that is a small price to pay for the health of your best friend.

How To Spot an Ear Infection in Dogs

How to spot an ear infection in dogs

An ear infection is a common problem with most of the dogs, and it appears when you fail to properly dry your pet’s ear after the bath or an outdoor adventure that included watersports.

The humid place of the ear is a great surface for bacterias or yeast that cause the infection. The first sign of the infection you can smell, as the awful odor will come from your dog’s ear.

Your dog will excessively scratch its ear and shake his head in the desperate try to remove the infection.  Swelling the ear, and bright red color around the infection are also common symptoms, along with the ooze and possible fur loss around the ear.

If you have the slightest doubt that your pet could have an ear infection, take him to the vet. If you stall, your dog’s condition could get worse and even lead to loss of hearing.

How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears Like a Veterinary

How to clean your dog’s ears (step by step guide)

  • You will need an ear cleaner, some cotton balls, a dry towel and a ton of patience
  • Never use Q-tips, as they can only make things worse
  • Find a place inside your house that you can clean easily in the case of the mess, and it can get pretty messy
  • Try to calm your pet, and ask someone for help if your pet is too anxious. If your pet still refuses to cooperate, leave him be and try again after a while
  • Visually inspect the ears for possible traces of parasites, infections or diseases, and immediately report to the vet if finding any
  • Take a bottle of a liquid cleaner and squeeze enough drops of it into the ear canal to completely fill it, while holding the dog’s ear flap up
  • Massage the base of the ear for about half a minute so the liquid cleaner can spread evenly and do its job
  • If the process is successful, you will hear gurgling sounds coming from the inner part of the ear
  • While still holding the ear flap up, remove any excess cleaner liquid, debris or earwax from the surface of the ear
  • Let go of the ear and let your dog shake his head hard, so the remaining filth and liquid cleaner can come to the surface of the ear. This part is the messy one, but essential for removing the debris from the inside of the ear
  • Carefully wipe all the filth and liquid from the ear, so not a single drop of moisture is left
  • Treat your dog with an extra portion of snacks, let him rest a bit and play with big dog toys, then repeat the process with his other ear

If for any reason cleaning goes wrong or ends up in a failure, the best thing would be to visit a veterinarian, who can professionally clean your dog’s ears and advise you what to do if it happens again.

Of course, there are professional grooming salons that can do it for you, and they are usually not that expensive.


How to keep your dog’s ears healthy

Understand the Basics - dog ear anatomy

Treating the consequences of ear diseases isn’t logical if you don’t prevent the cause. Here are some things you can do to prevent diseases:

  • Always trim the hair inside your dog’s ear so the excess moisture cannot get stuck inside
  • Avoid getting the dog’s head wet when bathing, instead use wipes to clean his head and ears or get him amazing waterless shampoos for dogs
  • Dry your dog’s ears carefully after any water adventure
  • Give him medication that prevents mites, flea and ticks regularly
  • Visually check his ears for any symptom of infection and disease and make it a part of your routine
  • Don’t skip going to the veterinarian and always ask for a regular ears check

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the common ear problems in dogs?

The most common problems are:

  • The foreign body inside the ear – usually a pebble, bug or small piece of wood. The cleaning is relatively easy and no traces are left.
  • Mite infestation – the itching will drive your dog crazy. These parasites are often found on cats but can migrate to dogs in no-time, especially if your dog is an outdoor type. You will need to use some medicaments to treat your dog and maybe a brand of drops specialized for mite infestation.
  • Bacterial infection – usually the cause is humidity in the dog’s ear.  Your vet will prescribe your dog some antibacterial medicines, as well as an antibacterial solution drops
  • Yeast infection – usually happens for the same reason as a bacterial infection, but much harder to get rid. The fungus is more resistant to medicines so the treatment will last longer, but is successful every time.
  • Allergies – every time your dog gets outside, he gets exposed to all kinds of allergens, mostly the pollen and dust. If your dog doesn’t have considerable symptoms of allergies, the usual ear cleaning will remove all allergens.

How many drops of ear cleaner should I use for the best dog ear care?

It really depends on the breed and size of your dog, as well as the brand of the ear cleaner. Most manufacturers will emphasize the recommended quantity of the drops directly on the label of the product. If you have any second thoughts, contact your veterinarian.

Can I use a human ear cleaner on my dog?

I cannot stress this as much as I want, but it is very important to never use any human products for your dog. Unbelievably, but humans and dogs have significant differences and you should use only products that are intended for your dog, to care for your dog.

Also, avoid using any homemade solutions for cleaning your dog’s ears, as they can seriously harm your pet.

My dog scratches a lot, but the vet confirmed it has no ear infection?

If your dog scratches himself a little too much, it is probably the sign of dry skin, and the symptoms can be very similar to an ear infection.

That can happen for various reasons and the best solution is to get your dog the best dog shampoo for dry skin. Of course, consult with your vet and listen to his advice.

Can I use a dog ear cleaner on cats?

Some brands offer ear cleaners that are suitable for the cats and for the dogs, but that is indicated on the package. If there is no indication on the label, it is best not to take any unnecessary risks.

How often should I clean my dog’s ears to provide the best dog ear care for him?

It really depends on the breed of the dog. Some breeds will require weekly cleaning, while others will settle with cleaning the ears once per month. As usual, the best thing is to advise with your veterinarian.

The important part is not to clean your dog’s ears too often, as it can lead to irritation. Moreover, if your dog has an infection, your vet might advise you to clean your pet’s ears daily, until the infection is cured.

Are some breeds more sensitive to ear problems than other breeds?

Yes, they are. The breeds of dogs with the ears that hang down will be more prone to ear problems. The main reason is the lack of airflow, so the filth and humidity will get trapped easier in the ear.

Also, some breeds grow a lot of hair on the inside of the ear canal, and that also raises the risk of having ear problems.

Short conclusion

As insignificant as it sometimes may seem, the health of your dog’s ears plays a major role in his well-being and general health. With the help of this article and regular consultation with your veterinarian, you will have no problems at all to keep your pet happy and healthy.

Photos from: adriaticphoto /, edu1971 /, willeecole /, rugercm / 

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Big pet lover and a dog training and behavior expert who loves to share his knowledge and experience. Happy owner of two amazing dogs Labrador Bela and Jack Russell Terrier Piksi and one cuddly cat Tom.