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For some dogs, one of the most important parts of grooming is cleaning their ears. It reduces the chance of ear infections and removes excess wax buildup.

You can use over-the-counter ear cleaners or save money and make a homemade dog ear cleaner.

Homemade DIY dog ear cleaning solutions are cheap and easy to make from ingredients you already have.

However, homemade ear cleaners for dogs are only for cleaning healthy ears.

As a dog owner, do not attempt to use these cleaners if your pet already has an ear infection. Please consult with a veterinarian instead because they will likely recommend an ear infection treatment.

This article will discuss the causes and symptoms of ear infections and some of my favorite homemade dog ear cleaner recipes that are natural and safe for dogs.

homemade dog ear cleaner

Common Causes of Dog Ear Problems

As mentioned above, homemade dog ear cleaners are only applicable for dogs with healthy ears.

However, it's also important to note the causes and symptoms of dog ear problems as responsible dog owners.

Dog ear problems are a common concern among fur parents. Aside from the fact that all breeds are prone to this, your dog's ear problem can also be a symptom of an even worse health condition.

There are several reasons behind it. Listed below are some of them.

Excessive Ear Cleaning

Biologically, earwax serves as a natural defense against dust and any foreign particles (e.g., pollen) potentially coming inside the ear.

Overcleaning the ears may expose them to anything that may irritate their ears. As a consequence, itchiness and potential infections may occur.

Infection Due to Contact with Foreign Object or Physical Trauma

Concerning the section discussed above, there's a high chance that your dog may develop an ear infection when a harmful object makes contact with their ears.

If your dog scrapes a part of their ear with any sharp rusting objects or environmental allergens, make sure to take them to their veterinarian immediately.

Furthermore, it's also likely that your dog may develop ear infections when they've recently experienced physical trauma. One good example is when they are hit by a heavy object (e.g., basketball) by their ears, resulting in deep wounds or concussions.

Allergies

Like humans, dogs can develop specific allergies from several allergens.

Once they do, their body usually manifests it through skin itchiness, affecting the ears.

Dogs are especially allergic to several food ingredients (i.e., wheat) and certain home-cleaning products (i.e., pesticides).

Thus, one of the most important things you must do as an owner is observing how their bodies respond to certain products.

It's the only proven way that you'll be able to avoid those products next time.

Bacterial or Fungal Infection

Like humans, bacteria and fungi in dogs love to grow in warm and damp places; thus, their ear infections.

Dogs who love to play with water are more susceptible to this condition, especially when they're the type of dogs who love to do outdoor activities.

One common fungus that dogs can acquire is yeast. On the other hand, in terms of bacteria, staphylococcus is one of the most popular.

Parasites

An ear infection may also be due to several parasites living in your dog's body. Ear mites are one of the best examples of this.

As its name implies, ear mites infest your dogs on their ears. They can be quite challenging to detect because of their microscopic size.

However, one way to spot them is to find black spots inside your pet's ears. They are likely to be mites' droppings.

Tumor or polyps

An ear tumor or polyp in dogs is a severe case of ear canal infection. It is due to the repeated irritation and infection in your dog's ears.

Although this condition may vary for each dog, an ear tumor or polyp may develop to ear hematoma if touched constantly.

homemade dog ear cleaner

Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections

Listed below are five symptoms that will indicate something wrong happening with them.

Head shaking or head tilting

Head shaking or tilting is common practice among dogs to relieve the itch or pain in their ears.

If you noticed your dogs do this frequently, go ahead and check what's in their ear.

Pungent yellow or reddish-yellow discharge

If your furry friend suffers from an ear infection, a foul-smelling discharge will come from their ear.

It's usually yellow, but it can also be reddish-brown for some.

Vigorous scratching

If your dog is a vigorous ear scratcher, chances are they are suffering from an ear infection.

If you noticed your dog scratching their ears from time to time, stop them immediately.

This practice will not only bruise their ears but also irritate them further—leading to severe complications.

Lack of balance

The ears are known to be the part of the body responsible for maintaining balance. If there's something wrong with how your dog balances or moves for the day, it's possible that there's an infection by the inner ear.

Swelling and redness of the ear canal

Irritated ears and inflammation of the ear canals are another significant indication that there must be something wrong with your dog's ears and can be a sign of an ear infection.

homemade dog ear cleaner

6 Homemade Dog Ear Cleaners That Are Natural and Safe

Listed below are 6 popular recipes that you can use to make your own homemade dog ear cleaners proven and tested safe.

1. Most Popular Combination

This basic homemade ear cleaner will help stabilize the pH levels of your dog's ears while also cleaning them. It may potentially fight off some bacteria, which reduces the chance of ear infections.

Ingredients:

  • Empty bottle
  • White vinegar (we like natural brands, like Lucy's)
  • Boric acid
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • Povidone iodine (Betadine is most popular)

Directions:

  1. Pour 4 tablespoons of white vinegar into a resealable bottle
  2. Add 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid
  3. Add 3-4 drops of Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  4. Add 3-4 drops of povidone-iodine
  5. Seal the bottle and shake well until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed

Note: Povidone-iodine is just a generic name for the famous brand, Betadine, that most pet owners will use. It has antiseptic properties that attack bacteria in a dog's ears, and it doesn't sting. However, you don't have to add it to this homemade dog ear cleaner if you are concerned about red staining. The solution will work well without it.

2.Soft and Supple Solution

For a straightforward homemade dog ear cleaner that will leave your pup's ears soft, supple, and protected, you can use a glycerin mixture.

Ingredients:

  • Small container
  • Glycerin (use a natural brand like Noble Roots)
  • Boric acid

Directions:

  1. Mix 1 tablespoon of glycerin with 2 tablespoons of boric acid.

It's is a simple mixture that you can apply using cotton balls. The boric acid breaks up waxy buildup while reducing moisture and the possibility of an ear infection in the dog. The glycerin then coats and soothes the dog's skin to keep it from getting too dry.

3. Witchy Combination

Here is another variation of dog ear cleaner similar to the two above, made from vinegar and boric acid to clean the dog's ears and help maintain a healthy pH. The witch hazel in here will help to soothe the dog's ears.

Ingredients:

  • White vinegar or apple cider vinegar (Bragg is a cheap organic brand)
  • Witch hazel
  • Boric acid

Directions:

  1. Pour 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup vinegar into a container
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of witch hazel
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of boric acid
  4. Shake well

Note: As an alternative to this, you can mix 2 tablespoons of boric acid in 1/2 cup of water and use that if you are in a fix and do not have the other ingredients on hand.

4. Mild But Effective

Using vinegar and water, you can make a simple but effective homemade dog ear cleaner. Alternatively, you can use apple cider vinegar and water along with some Isopropyl rubbing alcohol.

Ingredients:

  • Empty bottle
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol

Directions:

  1. Pour 4 tablespoons of plain water into a resealable bottle.
  2. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  3. Add 3-4 drops of Isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  4. Seal the bottle and shake well

Note: If rubbing alcohol stings, then for an even milder solution, leave out the Isopropyl rubbing alcohol altogether. The vinegar and water will still help clean a dog's ears and stabilize the pH levels.

5. Ultra Mild and Ultra Simple

Apple cider vinegar in itself is a powerful mild solution of homemade ear cleaner for dogs. It's an excellent solution to use on floppy-eared dogs like Bassett Hounds that need to have their ears cleaned often.

Ingredients:

  • Apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Mix 2/3 cup of water and 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar

6. Easiest to Make

Hydrogen peroxide is also a helpful ear cleaning solution against waxy buildup in a dog's ears. When the hydrogen peroxide starts working, it bubbles the dirt right up out of the dog's ear canal. It can tickle a dog's ear, though, so be prepared for a lot of head shaking.

Ingredients:

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide (Dealmed is an excellent cheap brand we use)

Directions:

  1. Mix 2 tablespoons of water with 2 tablespoons of the hydrogen peroxide

Note: Mix Hydrogen peroxide with a few of the above-mentioned homemade dog ear cleaners. For example, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide and a few drops of Isopropyl rubbing alcohol. This solution is suitable for flushing dirt out of a dog's ears and cleaning the more visible parts.

homemade dog ear cleaner

How to Use a Homemade Dog Ear Cleaner

Not all dogs require regular ear cleaning. Those with floppy ears like Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds need to have their ears cleaned about once a week, while Pit Bulls or German Shepherds with ears that naturally stay dryer can go longer between ear cleanings.

Warm the homemade dog ear cleaner to at least room temperature before using it. It is essential when using oils.

Never use cotton swabs or q-tips in your dog's ears. Instead, use cotton balls or a regular gauze wrapped around your finger to clean your pet's ears with a homemade dog ear cleaning solution.

Dip the cotton ball or your gauzed finger into the solution, or squirt it on, and then gently wipe your dog's ears clean. Here's a guide on how to do this.

How to Clean Dog Ears

To flush out dirt and waxy buildup in a dog's ear, use a bulb syringe or a bottle with a squirting tip similar to those used to apply hair dye.

Gently squeeze the solution into the dog's ears, lightly massage the base of the ear, let the dog shake the head to bring out the dirt and wax naturally, then wipe the remaining residue off with gauze or cotton balls.

How To Clean Dog Ears

When possible, do ear flushes outdoors and let your pup shake the head as much as needed. That way, you will not have to take time to wipe down the walls.

Note: If using oils, set the oil container in a cup or bowl of hot water to warm it up. Test the temperature of the oil or homemade dog ear cleaner on the inside of your wrist before using it to make sure it is not too hot. It should feel barely warm on your wrist.

Things to Remember When Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

As a fur parent, it's your responsibility to keep your dog healthy and protected from any possible illnesses that they may acquire.

When it comes to cleaning their ears, several factors come into play. It includes the type of toys they play with, the size of their ears, and how often they typically touch them.

Most experts and experienced dog owners recommend cleaning your dog's ears at least once or twice a month.

Whether you're taking them to their groomer, or you'll do the cleaning yourself, it's best to use gentle and simple products on their ears. However, bear in mind not to clean more often as excessive cleaning might only cause further irritation.

Furthermore, the ear cleaning process must only conform to the outer part of the ear canals. Please do not attempt to clean their middle or inner ear, as this will only make your dog's ears more susceptible to infection.

READ NEXT: How To Make Homemade Cleaners That Are Safe for Dogs

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Top 6 Recipes of Homemade Dog Ear Cleaners