Cleaning Dog's Ears

The Best Dog Ear Cleaning Solutions (2022 Reviews)

Our veterinarians research and recommend the best products. Learn more about our process. We may receive a commission on purchases made from our links.

Ear infections and other ear health issues are pretty common among dogs and can even become a recurring problem, which is why dog ear cleaning solutions are so helpful. Keeping your dog’s ears clean can help prevent infections. And, since infections can spread, leading to other health issues, clean ears are important to your dog’s overall health as well.1

Our vet advisor, Dr. Jennifer Coates, chose all of the dog ear cleaning solutions recommended here. Dr. Coates’s top pick is Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution. This ear cleaning solution has earned the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) quality seal, helping guarantee its safety and efficacy. It also contains two drying agents, plus aloe vera to clean your dog’s ears and prevent issues in the future. Read how she chose the top 5.

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution

Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution is the best dog ear cleaning solution on the market.
Our Vet’s Top 5 Dog Ear Cleaning Solutions

Here are the top picks from our veterinarian. Compare the ratings and features of different solutions.

Editor’s Picks Model Rating Contains Drying Agents No Strong, Unpleasant Odor Size
Best Overall Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution 4.7 4 oz., 8 oz., 16 oz., and 1 gal. sizes available
Best Budget Buy Otirinse 4.7 8 oz.
Best Natural Dog Ear Cleaner Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash 4.5 4 oz.
Best Dog Ear Cleaner for Yeast Epiotic Advanced 4.7 4 oz. and 8 oz. sizes available
Best Dog Ear Cleaning Wipe Oticbliss Advanced Cleaning Ear Wipes 4.4 100 wipes

*Ratings are on a scale of 1 to 5 and based on reviews, feedback, and opinions of actual customers

Who Should Buy a Dog Ear Cleaning Solution

  • Owners of certain breeds – Some dog breeds, especially those with floppy ears, are at greater risk for ear issues than other breeds. These dogs often need their ears cleaned to help prevent infection. According to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), the breeds most likely to suffer from ear infections are the Basset Hound, Chinese Shar-Pei, Labradoodle, Beagle, and Golden Retriever. More generally, Poodles and Spaniel-type breeds can also be at high risk for ear infections.1
  • Owners of dogs that have recurring ear infections – If your dog experiences chronic ear infections, regular cleaning may be a way to help prevent infections in the future. However, be sure to talk to your vet before trying to prevent or treat a medical issue on your own.
  • Dog owners whose vet has recommended it – Of course, if your vet has recommended that you use a dog ear cleaning solution for your pup, you should listen. While ear cleaning solutions aren’t necessary for all dogs, listen to your vet’s advice. If you’re not sure about the advice your vet is giving you, ask follow-up questions or seek a second opinion from another vet.

Who Should Not Buy a Dog Ear Cleaning Solution

  • Owners of dogs with severe ear problems – If there is any chance that your dog could have a ruptured eardrum, do not buy an ear cleaning solution without first talking to your veterinarian. Some cleaners and medications can cause deafness if they can get through the eardrum to the delicate structures deeper in a dog’s ear.
  • Owners who have their dog’s ears cleaned professionally – If you have your vet or groomer clean your dog’s ears regularly, you probably don’t need to worry about cleaning them at home, unless you’ve been told otherwise.

Research Tips from a Veterinarian

Your veterinarian is the best source of information that is specific to your dog’s case. For routine cleaning, talk to friends and family who are pet parents to learn what types of dog ear cleaners have worked well for them. Closely read product descriptions to avoid unpleasant surprises. Looking at customer reviews posted on trusted sources can give you an idea of how satisfied pet parents are with their purchase.

  1. Choose the right type of ear cleaning solution – Pick the right ear cleaner based on your dog’s specific needs. For example, some products are designed primarily to help treat infections, others to remove excess wax.2 Make sure any ear cleaning solution you consider contains a drying agent. Isopropyl alcohol, acetic acid, boric acid, benzoic acid, malic acid, salicylic acid, silicon dioxide, and sulfur are drying agents that are commonly included in dog ear cleaning solutions.
  2. Only buy from high-quality manufacturers – Purchase products made by reputable companies with a history of making safe and effective ear cleaners. Avoid products that are made by companies without a good (or any) track record or that contain ingredients that don’t have evidence supporting their use.
  3. Listen to your vet – If your veterinarian has recommended a specific ear cleaner, use that product. If it doesn’t seem to be working, talk to your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can help you pick the right product for your dog and answer any questions you might have.
  4. Use ear cleaning solutions safely and correctly – Unless specifically told to do so by your veterinarian, never put any ear cleaner or other product in your dog’s ear if there is a chance that their eardrum has ruptured. Ear cleaners and other products can cause deafness if they reach the deeper parts of the ear. Ruptured eardrums are usually associated with moderate to severe infections or trauma (cleaning ears with swabs, for example).3 Make an appointment with your veterinarian if your dog has red ears, ear discharge (particularly if it smells bad), or painful or itchy ears.

How Much Do They Cost?

Between $5 and $20

Fortunately, dog ear cleaning solution tends to be pretty affordable, costing between $5 and $20. One of the factors affecting price is the size of the container. Obviously, a larger amount of cleaning solution will typically cost more. Beyond that, the biggest factor that affects the price is ingredients. Some cleaning solutions are basically just antiseptic rinse. Others also contain drying ingredients to prevent problems associated with excess moisture. Others have soothing ingredients or deodorizing ingredients. While not always necessary, especially if your dog isn’t prone to issues with its ears, those extra ingredients can be very helpful for maintaining your dog’s ear health and combating existing irritation.

Our Methodology: Why Trust Pet News Daily

As a veterinarian, I have only recommended ear cleaners that are made by companies with a well-deserved reputation for their excellent quality control standards and/or meet industry-imposed standards and pass a third-party audit (NASC). The manufacturers of the products listed below provide the information important to decision-making on the product’s label. The ear cleaners listed below are commonly recommended by veterinarians, and vets report having had success using these products. – Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM

The Best Dog Ear Cleaning Solution: Full Reviews

Our Vet’s Top Pick

Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution

Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution is the best dog ear cleaning solution on the market.

Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution is a gentle ear cleaning solution that’s perfect for routine ear cleanings. It cleans and acidifies the ears to help prevent infections, plus it contains two drying agents – alcohol and lactic acid – and soothing aloe vera. It even deodorizes the ears. And to reassure you about safety as well as quality, Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution has earned the NASC (National Animal Supplement Council) quality seal.

It comes in 4-ounce, 8-ounce, 16-ounce, and 1-gallon size options. If you want to treat multiple dogs or cats (because it’s safe for use with cats too), you can get one of the larger sizes and save money per ounce. Or, if you only need to treat one or two animals, you can get one of the smaller sizes for more convenient storage. Whichever way you go, it’s still quite affordable.

pros
  • NASC quality seal
  • Cleans, dries, acidifies, and deodorizes
  • Gentle enough for regular use
  • Inexpensive
Cons
  • Some users report a strong smell
Best Budget

Otirinse

To clean out your dog’s ears without cleaning out your wallet, you’ve got to get Otirinse.

For an even more affordable option, you can go with Otirinse. It comes in an 8-ounce bottle and is very inexpensive. It cleans and dries the ears, plus it contains acidifiers to help prevent infections, cerumenolytics to break up excess wax, and aloe vera to soothe irritated ears. It also has a light, pleasant fragrance to help deodorize smelly ears.

It’s made by Bayer, a company known for its high-quality medical supplies for both humans and pets. Bayer recommends Otirinse for dogs with floppy ears or narrow ear canals, dogs that swim regularly, or dogs that live in humid areas.4 Like our top pick, Otirinse can be used on both dogs and cats.

pros
  • Very affordable
  • Trustworthy manufacturer
  • Cleans, soothes, and deodorizes
  • Dries, acidifies, and breaks up earwax
Cons
  • Some users didn’t like the scent
Best Natural Dog Ear Cleaner

Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash

Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash is a great natural solution for dirty dog ears.

Feel better using a natural solution for your dog’s dirty ears? Then Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash is right for you. The all-natural ingredient list still includes potent active ingredients like witch hazel, aloe, chamomile, yucca, clove oil, tea tree oil, and echinacea. These ingredients will relieve irritation, remove wax and debris, eliminate odors, and soothe your dog’s ears. There’s no alcohol and it won’t sting your dog’s ears.

However, Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash isn’t drying like some of the other dog ear cleaners we’ve recommended, so you’ll need to follow it up with Vet’s Best Ear Relief Dry to remove excess moisture. You can even buy both Vet’s Best Ear Relief Wash and Vet’s Best Ear Relief Dry together in the same pack and save a few bucks. Each comes in a 4-ounce bottle, though you can also buy the Ear Relief Wash in a 16-ounce refill bottle.

pros
  • All-natural ingredients
  • Relieves irritation, eliminates odors, cleans, and soothes
  • Alcohol-free
Cons
  • Ideal to follow up with Vet’s Best Ear Relief Dry to dry ears
  • Scent may be stronger than some people like
Best Dog Ear Cleaner for Yeast

Epiotic Advanced

Epiotic Advanced is the best dog ear cleaner for yeast build-up.

Epiotic Advanced is great for cleaning dogs’ ears in general, but it’s especially well suited for preventing yeast infections. In fact, scientific research has shown that it’s effective against the type of yeast infection that most commonly affects dogs’ ears.5 Epiotic Advanced contains salicylic acid and anti-adhesive glycotechnology to treat and prevent infection. It also removes debris and excess wax from the ears and contains a drying agent.

Epiotic Advanced is non-irritating and gentle enough for regular use. It’s safe for sensitive skin and is recommended for dogs that suffer from chronic inflammation of the external ear canal. It even has a low pH, so it can be safely and effectively used alongside other ear treatments. However, you should always talk to a veterinarian before combining treatments.

pros
  • Effective against the most common type of yeast infection in dog ears
  • Treats and prevents infection
  • Removes wax and debris and dries the ears
  • Gentle and safe for sensitive skin
  • Available in 4-ounce and 8-ounce bottles
Cons
  • A bit more expensive than other options, but still moderately priced
  • Some buyers have reported that the bottle may sometimes leak
Best Dog Ear Cleaning Wipe

Oticbliss Advanced Cleaning Ear Wipes

It’s hard to beat the ease of Oticbliss Advanced Cleaning Ear Wipes.

Oticbliss Advanced Cleaning Ear Wipes are one of the easiest methods of cleaning your dog’s ears. For routinely cleaning the outer parts of the ear, a wipe is faster and easier (for both you and your dog) than doing a full cleaning with a liquid solution, though it doesn’t clean as deeply into the ear canal. Oticbliss Advanced Cleaning Ear Wipes are one of the best dog ear cleaning wipes on the market.

These ear wipes contain ingredients that clean and dry the ear and loosen up excess wax. They also contain soothing aloe vera. Like all Oticbliss products, these wipes are formulated by vets and made in the United States. These wipes are safe for use on both dogs and cats of all ages and sizes.

pros
  • Wipes reduce the amount of fluid you put in the ear canal
  • Simple to use
  • Cleans, dries, soothes, and loosens excess wax
Cons
  • Less effective than a liquid ear cleaning solution
  • Wipes are a little small
  • More expensive than liquid cleaning solution

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you clean your dog’s ears?

You want to make ear cleaning as positive an experience for your dog as possible. To encourage them to tolerate your efforts, you can give your dog treats throughout the process. Grab the treats before you get started, as well as the actual cleaning supplies: dog ear cleaning solution, a towel, and cotton balls or gauze. You may want to clean in a room with easy-to-clean floors, like the bathroom or kitchen, since your dog will likely shake to remove the cleaning solution from their ears.

Once you’ve got everything ready, start cleaning the ears by pouring a small amount of cleaning solution, just enough to fill the ear canal, into one of your dog’s ears. Then gently massage the base of the ear for around 30 seconds. Once that’s done, your dog will want to shake their head. Let them, and use the towel to protect yourself from the spray and to clean up any solution from the floor. Finally, use a cotton ball or gauze to wipe the interior of the ear, without going more than a knuckle deep into the ear canal. Then repeat the process on the other ear.

Should you clean dog ears?

A gentle ear cleaning can be a regular part of your dog’s grooming and healthcare. Some dogs, especially those with ears that stand up, may only need their ears routinely cleaned when they’re visibly dirty. Other dogs, like those with floppy ears or a history of ear problems, benefit from weekly or even more frequent cleanings. If cleaning your dog’s ears yourself makes you nervous, many vets and groomers offer this service as well.

What is the brown stuff in my dog’s ears?

Healthy dogs can have a little brown earwax in their ears. However, excessive brown buildup can be a sign of infection, ear mites, or other problems.6 Have your pup seen by a vet if you notice brown material building up in your dog’s ears, particularly if the ears are also red, itchy, or painful.

How often should you clean dog’s ears?

For most dogs, a weekly examination of the ears and a monthly ear cleaning is just right. However, there are certain factors that can make dogs need their ears cleaned more frequently. For example, if your dog is of a breed that’s at higher risk for ear infections or your dog swims often, you may need to clean your dog’s ears once every one or two weeks. Be wary of overcleaning, though, as this can lead to irritation and dryness.7 If you’re not sure how frequently your dog’s ears should be cleaned, just ask your vet.

Article Sources

Pet News Daily uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

  1. O’Neill DG, Volk AV, Soares T, Church DB, Brodbelt DC, Pegram C. Frequency and predisposing factors for canine otitis externa in the UK – a primary veterinary care epidemiological viewCanine Med Genet. 2021;8(1):7. doi:10.1186/s40575-021-00106-1
  2. Mandray R. Using ear cleaners for otitis externa. Veterinary-practice.com. Published July 21, 2018. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  3. Moriello KA. Otitis media and interna in dogs. Msdvetmanual.com. Published June 2018. Updated October 2020. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  4. ElancoDVM. OtiRinse ear cleansing and drying solution. Elancodvm.com. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  5. Mason CL, Steen SI, Paterson S, Cripps PJ. Study to assess in vitro antimicrobial activity of nine ear cleaners against 50 Malassezia pachydermatis isolates. Vet Dermatol. 2013;24(3):362-666, e80-e81. doi:10.1111/vde.12024
  6. Moriello KA. Ear infections and otitis externa in dogs. Msdvetmanual.com. Published June 2018. Updated October 2020. Accessed March 3, 2022.
  7. Bajwa J. Dog ear care: how and when to carefully clean your dog’s ears. Vetdermclinic.com. Published November 27, 2017. Accessed March 3, 2022.
Dr. Jennifer Coates
Dr. Jennifer Coates was valedictorian of her graduating class at the VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine and has practiced in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is also the author of numerous articles and books including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms: Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian.