Home Dog Supplies Reviews The Best Ear Cleaners for Dogs

The Best Ear Cleaners for Dogs

Most effective solutions to keep your dog's ears clean on a daily basis.

Because of the way a dog's ear canal is structured, debris or other materials (ear wax) caught in the horizontal canal cannot be ejected without cleaning. When ignored, this may lead to itchiness in the best-case scenario and ear infections in the worst case.

What dog ear canal looks like

Not all dogs require ear cleaning. While some breeds need more frequent cleanings, especially those prone to ear infections, others may never need it. Over-cleaning your dog's ears may cause irritation and infections. Only clean a dog's ears if you smell odor or notice wax/debris buildup or discharge.

Dog ear cleaners differ from human ones because they cannot contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, such as Xylitol, Chlorhexidine, Chlorine compounds, or alcohol. They generally use benzyl alcohol, which does not contain any ethanol and is used as a fragrance. Some brands like Zymox will also include ingredients such as Lactoperoxidase, Lactoferrin, and Lysozyme for minor bacterial and fungal control.

Warning: Ear cleaners for dogs are not to be used for ear infections. Ear cleaners contain “simple,” less harsh ingredients for long-term use that are gentle on the skin and won't be effective for treating infections. Sometimes, using ear cleaner for yeast infections can make the situation worse by creating a favorable environment for yeast to grow. If your pet has ear infections (otitis), a vet-prescribed (or OTC) ear infection treatment is required and to be used for short-term only until the infection clears up.

The best ear cleaner for dogs will contain anti-bacterial and anti-fungal ingredients to prevent more serious complications. They should also be good at clearing up the build-up of wax and debris and keeping the ears clean for longer, without irritating them.

How to Pick the Best Ear Cleaner for Dogs

Look for dog ear cleaners made with soothing ingredients without any irritants. Note that some “natural” treatments are not effective and will not clear the ear properly nor provide any bacterial/fungal prevention, which is what you need.

The most common type of ear cleaner for dogs is a liquid solution that you dump into the ear, massage gently for a few moments, and then wipe it off. They will work deep down into all the nooks and crannies of your dog's ear.

Alternatively, you can use dog ear-cleaning wipes, which are more convenient. These cleaning wipes are made with gentle ingredients so as not to scratch the ear or irritate a dog's delicate skin. However, they may not be as effective as liquid solutions, depending on the type of a dog's ears and their condition.

If your dog has an ear infection (yeast, otitis), seek veterinary care and advice on the appropriate ear infection treatment. When left untreated for too long, dog ear infections could worsen and cause permanent hearing loss, more serious infections or permanent damage to a dog's ear.

“Treatment for canine ear infections depends on the underlying cause of the infection as well as the specific type of infection involved. Ear cleaners or topical medications, such as ear drops or lotion, are common in soothing canine ear infections.” – Dr. Alison Diesel, DVM [source]

How to Clean a Dog's Ears?

Note: Before you start cleaning, check if a dog's ear is red, inflamed, or painful to the touch. If that's the case, DO NOT clean the ear and contact a veterinarian instead. This is likely a sign of an ear infection.

The cleaning process is very simple (see here). All you need is a good ear cleaner for dogs, some gauze, or cotton balls. Do not use Q-tips because you won't know how far you can push and risk damaging your pet's ears.

Dog ear cleaning - Step 1

(1) Have your dog lie down, then tip them on their side. Drop a tiny bit of ear cleaner straight into the ear (fill the canal). Be ready to hold your pup because they'll want to shake the liquid out of their ear.

Dog ear cleaning - Step 2

(2) Cover the dog's ear, then rub in circular moves and massage it, feeling to the ear's base for approx. 30 seconds. That's it. Now, let your pooch sit up and shake it off.

Dog ear cleaning - Step 3

(3) After the shake, go back to the same ear. Wax build-up should've been broken up, and it'll be out of the canal. Gently wipe off the inside of the ear with gauze or cotton balls until it's clean and there's no debris left.

When you get to clean a dog's ears, do not simply focus on the inside of the ear flap alone. This is your chance to inspect and check for any growths, lesions, discharges, and even smell the ear. A stinky ear can be a sign of an infection or other problems.

The Best Ear Cleaner for Dogs Brands

1Zymox Ear Cleanser with Bio-Active Enzymes
by Pet King Brands

Zymox Ear Cleanser With Bio-Active Enzymes, 4 oz. An ear cleaner that’s mild, non-toxic, and one that works is what your dog needs. The Zymox dog ear cleanser contains only non-toxic ingredients for maintaining the pet's ear hygiene and none of the harsh components that may cause irritations or other undesirable effects.

Prevention is better than cure, and this best ear cleaner for dogs is a must-have for warding off bacteria and fungi that may infect the ear. Most discover Zymox when their dogs already have infected ears, but this can be used as prevention, too.

Zymox Ear Cleanser with Bio-Active Enzymes is the first choice since it's the only cleanser that could be used in conjunction with the otic solution. After the treatment period, they continued using this mild cleanser for maintenance and ear cleansing. It has since become part of our pet’s grooming kit and has significantly reduced bouts of redness, smelly discharges, inflammation, itching, and other stressful issues affecting the dog’s ears.

Zymox Ear Cleanser With Bio-Active Enzymes, 4 oz.
5,609 Reviews
Zymox Ear Cleanser With Bio-Active Enzymes, 4 oz.
  • Cat and dog ear cleaner –...
  • Gentle, non-toxic and...
  • Patented LP3 Enzyme System...
  • Cat and dog ear cleaner...
  • Proudly USA made in a...

Ingredients: Purified Water, Glycerin, Coco-Glucoside, Propylene Glycol, Benzyl Alcohol, Lactoperoxidase, Lactoferrin, Lysozyme, Glucose Oxidase, Zinc Gluconate

  • Contains only natural ingredients
  • Non-toxic formula
  • Formulated to soothe irritated ears as well as clean them
  • Strong (may be too strong for some very minor cleaning)
  • May dry out ears in some dogs


2Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner
by Virbac

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner, 8 oz Healthy ears must be kept clean and in tip-top condition at all times to discourage microbes from inhabiting them and causing infections. Don’t wait until there’s scratching or head-twitching. This cleanser from Virbac Animal Health contains no alcohol or chlorhexidine. It contains 0.2% salicylic acid as its active ingredient and has a neutral pH.

This second-best ear cleaner for dogs is indicated as a maintenance cleanser for healthy dog ears or as a preparatory cleanser before the application of therapeutic drugs, but this is a new (and stronger) formula. It is available in bottles of 4 oz and 8 oz. It comes highly recommended by pet owners and vets for its efficacy as a routine cleanser and preventative ear care product.

It has worked well for us in tandem with prescription medications for otitis extrema and other common ear maladies in pets. Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner has a mild scent, is simple to apply, and dries well. This self-drying property discourages the growth of moisture-related ear irritations and the onset of infections. It's also effective for minor cases of yeast infection and very effective for accumulated wax and gunk buildup.

This second-best ear cleaner for dogs is not without its faults, though. The original formula worked great on our pets' ears before, but this advanced formula is too strong and irritates their ears a little.

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner, 8 oz
9,065 Reviews
Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner, 8 oz
  • Epi-Otic may be used for...
  • A mild alcohol-free cleansing...
  • Epi-Otic has a low pH of 2.2...
  • Packaging May Vary

Ingredients: Salicylic acid (2%), also contains Disodium EDTA, PCMX, a monosaccharide complex (l-rhamnose, d-galactose, d-mannose), and FD&C Blue#1.

  • Contains no alcohol or chlorhexidine
  • Contains 0.2% salicylic acid as its active ingredient
  • Has a neutral pH
  • Mild scent
  • The original formula was better than the advanced formula, which may be too strong for some dogs.


3Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes
by Pet MD

Pet MD - Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes - Otic Cleanser for Dogs to Stop Ear Itching, and Infections with Aloe and Eucalyptus - 100 Count Pet MD cleaner wipes are another quick way to clean your dog’s outer ear from wax, debris, and odor and discourage the onset of infections. A jar contains 100 disposal sheets of moisturized cleansing wipes. These are convenient ways to clean your pet’s ears, deodorize, and moisturize at the same time. This US-made product is alcohol-free and non-irritating.

They contain purified water, aloe vera extract, eucalyptus oil, lactic acid, and salicylic acid. This third-best ear cleaner for dogs is easy and quick to use – just apply topically to rub off dirt and dispose of the used wipe properly; there’s no need to mess with your fingers.

We've used this one for years, and these wipes have significantly reduced episodes of ear infections and made visits to the vet much less frequent for us back in the day. These may not work for all cases, however, such as for dogs that need a liquid cleanser that washes the ear canal fully. It's mostly for surface cleaning and specific dog breeds.

We are not happy with the odor of these wipes, and they are also much thinner than you would think. Also, we didn't like the amount of liquid the wipes held. Later, they were too wet and left a lot of solutions behind in our dog's ear that needed to be wiped out after the cleaning was done.

Pet MD - Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes - Otic Cleanser for...
54,522 Reviews
Pet MD - Dog Ear Cleaner Wipes - Otic Cleanser for...
  • Advanced Formulation Designed...
  • Gentle and Safe for Regular...
  • 100 Convenient, Alcohol Free,...
  • Reduce Foul Ear Odor and...
  • Made in the USA in Federally...

Ingredients: Purified Water, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Polysorbate 20, Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe) Leaf Juice, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Lactic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Tetrasodium EDTA, Methylisothiazolinone, Sodium Benzoate, Fragrance, Red 33, Blue 1.

  • A jar contains 100 cleaning wipes
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Contains no alcohol
  • Contains purified water, aloe vera extract, eucalyptus oil, lactic acid, and salicylic acid.
  • More convenient than traditional ear cleaning solution
  • It will not work for all cases, such as dogs that need a liquid cleanser that washes the ear canal fully
  • Unpleasant scent
  • Thin wipes


4EcoEars Natural Dog Ear Cleaner
by Vet Organics

EcoEars Dog Ear Cleaner. Natural Multi-Action Formula. for Bad Discharge & Smell. Naturally Removes Foreign Matter and Cleanses The Most Difficult Ears. 100% Guaranteed This formula from Vet Organics is made from natural ingredients – including extracts from mullein leaf, tea tree oil, and rosemary – each chosen for its beneficial effect on dirt buildup and inflammation. This is best used regularly, at least once a week, to remove wax, gunk, and dirt and to make the ear uninhabitable for mites and microorganisms.

When used to restore dirty ears to their normal condition, it must be used twice daily for 7-10 days. I know of pet owners with dogs that chronically suffered from ear irritations and who were ecstatic to have finally come across this ear cleansing product, and they claimed that this one got rid of the ceaseless episodes of ear infections. However, we did not try it for infections, nor does the ingredients list look like it'd be effective. For cleaning, however, this works well just about. It helped to remove the odor from our pet's ears but did not completely clear up the gunk.

EcoEars Dog Ear Cleaner. Natural Multi-Action...
11,920 Reviews
EcoEars Dog Ear Cleaner. Natural Multi-Action...
  • 💗 100% NO-HASSLE MONEY BACK...

Ingredients: Denatured Grain Alcohol, Organic Mullein Leaf Extract, Witch Hazel Extract, Rosemary Extract, Ionic Silver Solution, Boric Acid, Vegetable Glycerin, Tea Tree Oil, Polysorbate 20 (food grade).

  • Made from natural ingredients, including extracts from mullein leaf, tea tree oil, and rosemary
  • No pharmaceuticals, synthetic chemicals, hydrocortisone (steroids) or antibiotics
  • Itch, odor, and waxy buildup relief in 2-3 days
  • Specifically formulated for dogs
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Some dogs may have negative reactions to this product
  • It will not completely clear up the ear of bacteria


5Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone
by Pet King Brands

Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution for Dogs and Cats to Soothe Ear Infections with 1% Hydrocortisone for Itch Relief, 4ozHere is something stronger and different from the above four best ears clean-for-dogs brands – a hydrocortisone treatment for infections. Dog ear infections, whether acute or chronic, are quite common among dogs. Infections can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi. When the cause is not readily identifiable, the infection can be pretty tricky to treat. This Zymox pet ear treatment contains three natural anti-microbial enzymes – namely, lysosome, lactoferrin, and lactoperoxidase.

It comes in a 4-ounce bottle but is also available in 1.25 and 8 ounces. When applied once a day for 7 days in an acute infection and 14 days for chronic cases, improvement is usually observed 2 or 3 days after the treatment.

Dog owners and veterinarians have long used and trusted this brand for the treatment of common cases of ear infections, or otitis extrema (swimmers' ear), in dogs. It’s known to have worked on ear mites and other bacterial issues, too. Zymox has been regarded by pet owners and vets as the first line of defense when it comes to inflammation in their pet’s outer ear, and so far, it seems to be the number one choice.

Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution for Dogs and Cats to...
72,809 Reviews
Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution for Dogs and Cats to...
  • Ear care for dogs and cats -...
  • Gentle, no-sting formula
  • Solution provides a safe,...
  • No pre-cleaning of painful...
  • Patented LP3 Enzyme System...

Ingredients: Hydrocortisone (1.0%), Benzyl Alcohol, Deionized Water, Dextrose, Glucose Oxidase, Glycerin, Hydroxypropyl Cellulose, Lactoferrin, Lactoperoxidase, Lysozyme, Potassium Iodide, Propylene Glycol.

  • Contains three natural anti-microbial enzymes
  • Contains 1% hydrocortisone to address itching
  • Available in 1.25-, 4- and 8-ounce bottles
  • Antibiotic-free
  • Expensive
  • For short-term use only
  • For ear infections, not regular daily use

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The Best Rated Ear Cleaners for Dogs 2020

Diana currently lives and works in London, UK and she's been an animal lover and dog owner since she was a child. After graduating high school, she focused on getting her degree in English to become a writer with a focus on animals, pets and dogs.