Best Dog Ear Cleansers

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

25 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
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380 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best dog ear cleansers

Last Updated October 2020

Some dogs won't ever experience ear issues, whereas others are prone to sore, stinky, or infected ears. Use of a dog ear cleanser can help get rid of current ear ailments or prevent future problems in dogs that are prone to ear infections.

It's important to consider whether you want a liquid ear cleanser or ear cleansing wipes, plus which, if any, active ingredients will be beneficial to your dog. Other factors to consider include whether the cleanser uses natural or soothing ingredients, whether it's alcohol-free, and what kind of scent it has. We've also included information about common ear problems, because the ear cleanser your dog needs will depend on its specific ear issue.

This buying guide contains all this information and more, plus a list of our top five dog ear cleansers. If you're still unsure which dog ear cleanser to buy after reading this guide, consult your dog's veterinarian.

You can find some subpar dog ear cleansers on the market. If you're concerned about quality, choose one from a recognizable brand and/or one made in the United States.

Key considerations

Common ear problems in dogs

Below are some of the common ear problems that can make a dog’s ears itchy, sore, or inflamed. Some of these can be remedied with an ear cleanser. If you haven't already had your dog's ear problem diagnosed by a vet, that should be your first port of call.

Bacterial infection: These infections are common in dogs, especially breeds with long, floppy ears, since the warm, wet environment inside the ears makes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Luckily, you can buy an antibiotic ear cleanser to help get rid of a bacterial infection.

Yeast infection: These ear infections are caused by certain fungal strains and can be trickier to tackle than bacterial infections, requiring a longer course of treatment. Dog ear cleaners that contain antifungal ingredients will help.

Otitis externa: Better known as swimmer's ear, otitis externa is a painful inflammation of the ear canal that can have a range of causes. Dog ear cleansers containing steroids can help, but the other ingredients should be gentle so they don't further irritate the ear.

Ear mites: These arachnids (Otodectes cynotis) cause intense itching. They're common in cats and highly contagious, and this means that a dog that lives in the same house is susceptible to getting them. Certain liquid ear cleansers reduce the number of mites in the ears, but flea and tick treatments are more effective at killing them off.

Allergens: Airborne allergens like dust and pollen can get inside your dog’s ears and cause an allergic reaction with itching and soreness. Regular cleaning with a non-medicated liquid ear cleanser or ear cleansing wipes physically removes the allergens and reduces the problem, but severely affected dogs may need anti-allergy medication, too.

Obstructions: It's very common for dogs to get grass seeds and other plant debris in the ears while out on walks or playing in the yard. Cleaning your dog's ears can remove these foreign bodies and solve the problem, especially if you act quickly before the debris makes its way deeper into the ear canal.

Active ingredients

Some dog ear cleansers are simply for general ear cleaning, while others contain active antibacterial or antifungal ingredients to help resolve ear infections.

Steroids, such as hydrocortisone, generally reduce itchiness and can help dogs with otitis externa.

Salicylic acid and lactic acid have antimicrobial properties that can help with both bacterial and yeast infections of the ear.

Antifungal ingredients, such as ketoconazole, are found in certain ear cleansers and, with regular use, will clear up a yeast infection.

Antibiotic ear cleansers are suited to dogs with severe bacterial infections, but these are generally prescribed by a veterinarian rather than bought over the counter.

CAUTION

Never use a cotton swab to clean your dog's ears because there's a serious risk of pushing the tip in too far and damaging the inner ear.

Features

Liquid vs. wipes

Dog ear cleansers come either in the form of a liquid or a cleansing wipe. 

Liquid dog ear cleansers are best for serious ear problems because they can work their way deep into parts of the ear canal that you can’t reach with a wipe. You'll generally find a wider range of active ingredients in liquid cleaning solutions to tackle all kinds of ear ailments, but these products are messier to use, and dogs are more apt to dislike the cleaning process. 

Wipes are simple to use and extremely convenient. They're great for cleaning the ears of dogs that don’t have any serious ear complaints, but they won't cut it if your dog has painfully inflamed ears or an ear infection. 
 

Scent

Although the scent of dog ear cleansers isn't hugely important, and it doesn’t affect its efficacy, a product with an overpowering scent might deter some dogs, making it difficult for you to administer the solution and putting them off having their ears cleaned at all.

Ingredients

All-natural: Some dog ear cleansers advertise all-natural ingredients. These cleansers tend to be gentle and great for routine cleaning or the removal of airborne allergens from your dog's ears, but they don't contain any serious antimicrobial or antifungal ingredients that are needed to alleviate the symptoms of bacterial or fungal infections.

Soothing: As already mentioned, some canine ear problems can cause the ears to become quite sore and inflamed. In this case, a dog ear cleanser that contains soothing ingredients is a great option. You might choose a product that contains natural anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as green tea or turmeric.

Alcohol: If your dog's ears are inflamed and sore, an ear cleanser that contains alcohol is likely to sting. Look for an alcohol-free cleansing product to avoid this problem and keep your dog comfortable.

EXPERT TIP

If you notice any unusual or foul-smelling discharge in your dog's ears, or they seem inflamed or painful, consult a veterinarian.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Dog ear cleansers are for dogs of all sizes, but you might need to use a smaller amount on a little dog and a larger amount on a big dog.


Staff  | BestReviews

Dog ear cleanser prices

Inexpensive: These dog ear cleansers start at around $3 to $8. They are generally non-medicated options for general cleaning of the ears.

Mid-range: These dog ear cleansers cost from $8 to $15 and include some medicated options and ear cleansing wipes in addition to liquids.

Expensive: High-end dog ear cleansers are priced between $15 and $25. These are either large bottles or high-strength veterinary-grade cleansers for tackling ear infections and other serious ear ailments.

Tips

  • Know why you're cleaning your dog's ears. Do you just want to keep on top of your dog's ear health with occasional cleaning or does it have a particular ear problem? This will determine which ear cleanser you choose.
  • Take chronic ear complaints seriously. If your dog has persistently itchy or very smelly ears (a light, yeasty odor is normal) or a crusty discharge and you haven't consulted a vet, be sure to do so right away. Your pet may need medication, not just an ear cleanser.
  • Choose a formula that hasn't been tested on animals. As a dog owner, you probably love animals and would prefer to buy a product that hasn't been tested on animals in labs.
A non-stinging ear cleanser is the best option, so you won't make your dog uncomfortable or put it off having its ears cleaned in the future.

FAQ

Q. How do I clean my dog's ears?
A.
The exact method for cleaning your dog's ears depends on the product you choose, so always check the instructions carefully before proceeding. However, the most common method for liquid ear cleansers is to squirt a few drops of the solution into your dog's ear, massage the base of the ear, and then wipe out any excess with a cloth. With wipes, you simply wipe out the inside of your dog's ears.
 

Q. How often should I clean my dog's ears?
A.
You need to find a balance when cleaning your dog's ears. Not often enough could lead to problems, especially if your dog is prone to ear infections. Too often and you might irritate your dog's ear canals, causing further issues. In general, you should clean your dog's ears once a month unless otherwise instructed by a vet.
 

Q. What should I do if my dog won't let me clean her ears?
A.
Some dogs don’t take kindly to having their ears cleaned. This might be because of a bad experience in the past or because their ears feel sore, but whatever the reason, our advice is the same. Try to make ear cleaning time a positive experience by feeding your dog plenty of treats as you clean her ears. This is easier with two people — one to feed the treats and the other to clean the ears — but you can do it solo if you must. In time, your dog will start to associate ear cleaning with food and may be less averse to it.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn Llewellyn
    Bronwyn Llewellyn
    Editor
  • Ciera Pasturel
    Ciera Pasturel
    Digital Content Producer
  • Lauren Corona
    Lauren Corona
    Writer
  • Melinda Snowden
    Melinda Snowden
    Web Producer

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