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6 of the Best Ear Cleaners for Dogs

Wash away all that grime and end their incessant scratching with a few drops.

by Avery Felman
April 5, 2023
bulldog in a collage with grooming products
The Wildest

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Yes, you can clean your pup’s ears at home, as much as the thought of it might make you squirm. As TikTok has taught us, when it comes to self-care and hygiene, it’s all about sorting through the many products to find the one.

To find the right ear cleaner for your dog, you’ll have to consider a lot of different factors: if they’re prone to yeast infections, microbial overgrowth, or wax accumulation, to name a few. Thinking through what issues you’re trying to treat can help narrow down your search, but you’ll probably want to think about the ingredients in each product, too. There’s an ear cleaner that will get the (sometimes unpleasant) job done: You can have your pick from vet-formulated products, cleaners with organic ingredients, or those that include probiotics.

While some pups are blessed with the gift of infrequent infections and natural debris-free ears, many aren’t as lucky. Though maintaining your dog’s ear hygiene is a crucial part of evading possible health risks and lots of sleepless nights (for both of you), over-cleaning or incorrectly cleaning their ears can actually cause more issues. That’s why it’s important to be sure you’re taking a non-invasive approach to cleaning, which means no Q-tips. Absolutely do not stick anything in your dog’s ear; you’ll risk piercing their ear drum. Flushing the ears with liquid, rubbing them gently to ensure the liquid is evenly distributed, and allowing your dog to shake them out is the best way to go.

But if the ear cleaner you’re using isn’t showing results, you may need to take your pet to the vet to get antibiotics. They may have an infection that can’t be corrected by drops. Your vet may also want to prescribe medicated ear creams or drops that you can’t get over the counter.

What causes these infections in the first place? “There are multiple causes of ear infections (otitis externa), including allergies (most common), ear mites, a foreign body (this can include polyps or neoplasia), excess hair in the ear canal, anatomic changes in the ear canal, excess moisture in the ear canal, injury, immune-mediated diseases, endocrine disease, and excessive cleaning,” says Dr. Lori Teller, a clinical associate professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. “Any of these causes allow for bacteria and/or yeast to overgrow in the ear, leading to the infection.” 

Knowing this, it’s important to learn how to safely clean your pup’s ears so you’re working to prevent infection instead of making the problem worse.

Best Ear Cleaners

Below, our top ear cleaner picks for dogs and dog parents seeking relief.

Btw, our editors (and their pets) picked out these products. They’re always in stock at the time we publish, but there’s a chance they’ll sell out. If you do buy through our links, we may earn a commission. (We’ve got a lot of toys to buy over here, you know?)

blue bottle ear cleaner with black lid

While you may think that your dog’s floppy ears are the cutest thing ever, what gets trapped inside is definitely not as pretty. Wet and waxy ears can lead to bacterial and yeast infections and irritation brought about by poor hygiene. Kin+kind’s USDA certified organic ear cleansing formula promises to remove wax build-up without stripping your pup’s most delicate skin of its natural oils. It’s alcohol and water free so it won’t leave your pup with that wince-inducing stinging sensation and is ethically produced without any animal testing or cruelty involved.

Plus, it’s formulated by veterinarian Dr. Marc Valitutto and plant specialist Dina Vanwyck. “I’m working closely with the product development team at kin+kind to see how the most powerful plant substances can safely and effectively help our favorite animals,” Vanwyck says. Made with natural ingredients extensively tested for toxicity and using advanced plant technology, kin+kind has developed ethical products backed by the professionals.

$12 at Amazon
ear lab co ear cleaner

If your dog has a blocked ear canal, you may need a more powerful cleaner. PetLab Co’s therapeutic ear cleaner allows you to do just that without sacrificing your commitment to straying away from harsh ingredients that could cause further irritation to your pup’s ears while they’re most vulnerable. This cleaner is made with high-quality ingredients, such as salicylic acid and ketoconazole, that help maintain your dog’s skin’s moisture barrier and support their healthy skin and coat. It’ll also deodorize and gently clean their ears.

$20 at Amazon
medical ear cleaner in white bottle with blue label

Zymox’s ear infection solution contains three natural bio-active enzymes that, when combined, form a powerful antimicrobial defense system that aids in the treatment of bacterial, fungal, and yeast infections. It’s safe for cats and dogs of all ages and is non-invasive so you don’t have to worry about cleaning your pet’s ears before or after the treatment. Made with hydrocortisone, which helps ease pain and itching, this is a great option for pets suffering from pain caused by ear infections. However, Zymox makes other options for cats and dogs, such as this veterinary strength ear cleaner and this otic enzymatic solution.

$22 at Chewy

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Avery, editor at The Wildest, and her cat, Chicken

Avery Felman

Avery is an editor at The Wildest. She has written for numerous publications, including Refinery29, BuzzFeed, and V Magazine. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her fiancé and cat, Chicken, and has high hopes that one of them will let her adopt a dog.