4 Best Dog Ear Cleaners: From Liquid to Wipes!

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Grooming By Ingrid Mangold 10 min read March 9, 2021

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dog ear cleaning solutions
best dog ear cleaners

Thinking that it’s high time to start cleaning your dog’s ears?  

Maybe you’ve noticed wax build up, or there’s a funny odor that you’ve started to smell.  Or maybe your vet recommended you start a regular cleaning regime if your dog has floppy ears, in hopes of preventing ear infections.

Whatever your reason, it’s important to find the right ear cleaning product for your canine pal!  

In this article we explore different reasons it’s important to clean your dog’s ears as well as several types of dog ear cleaning solutions, so you can find the one that works best for you and your canine’s needs.

Why Do Dogs Need To Have Their Ears Cleaned?

Cleaning your pup’s ears is an easy way to reduce the chances of your dog developing ear infections and excess wax or debris build up.  If left untreated, these developments can cause soreness and lead to much more serious problems like deafness!  Preventing future problems through good ear hygiene can also save you tons of money on vet bills and antibiotics.

Just like humans, dogs require regular ear cleanings – in fact, ear hygiene is even more important for canines than it is for us! Dogs have deep ear canals with many nooks and crannies that are a perfect environment for parasites, yeast, and bacteria to make themselves at home in.  

These issues can make your dog’s ears very itchy and uncomfortable, and he might make the damage worse by scratching excessively.

keeping dog ears clean

It is important to check your dog’s ears for any signs of an ear infection or other ear-related issue. Major signs of an ear infection include:

  • Ear discharge
  • Unusual odors coming from the ears
  • Excessive ear wax
  • Interior of ear turns red
  • Ear exhibits swelling and/or bumps
  • Hair from inside your dog’s ear begins to fall out
  • Ear wax gets darker in color, similar to coffee grounds

Liquid vs Wipe Ear Cleaners: Which is Best For Your Pooch?


Pros: With wipes you won’t need to buy additional items such as cotton pads. Ear wipes also tend to be less messy than liquid ear cleaning solutions.

Cons: With wipes you can’t get deep into the ear canal to loosen up debris that you can’t reach.

Liquid Solution

Pros: With a liquid solution you can loosen up wax or debris that is deep in the ear canal by letting the solution drip down into the ear and then massaging the outside of the ear to help shake things up.  Your dog will do the rest by shaking his head to remove excess liquid!

Cons: Liquid ear cleaning solutions can be messy when your dog shakes his head, so you may want to do this outside or in a designated area. You may also want to purchase cotton pads to clean the tops of the ears more effectively.

3 Best Dog Ear Cleaners: Solutions For Healthy Ears!

Now that we’ve covered the basics, here’s our list of the very best dog ear cleaners – we’ve included both liquid solutions and wipes so that you can choose the best for your pup based on your needs and preferences!

Zymox Ear Cleanser With Bio-Active Enzymes

About: The Zymox Ear Cleanser with Bio-Active Enzymes is a 4 ounce liquid solution dog ear cleanser that contains no harsh chemicals or cleaners.  



  • Cat and dog ear cleaner – quickly and effectively clean non-infected ears in pets of all ages
  • Gentle, non-toxic and non-irritating solution free from harsh detergents, veterinarian recommended
  • Patented LP3 Enzyme System helps to gently maintain healthy, fresh smelling ears
  • Cat and dog ear cleaner solution to manage dirty ears, safe for flushing the ears after an infection

This ear cleanser is best used on a weekly basis as a preventative measure against build up and infections. It is an effective way to manage your pup’s dirty ears without exposing them to strong chemicals or unnecessary skin irritation.  This product can either be rubbed onto your dog’s ears with cotton pads or dripped into the ear canal and massaged in by hand.  

Many owners report using this product along with the Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone for best results.

PROS: Owners note that the Zymox Ear Cleanser is fairly easy to use and is quite effective at dislodging ear build up.  Owners also say that the solution smells quite nice, leaving a fresh scent.

CONS: This product works best as a preventative measure and may not be able to treat an ear infection that has already developed.  Some owners report that this product was too harsh on their dog’s sensitive ears, causing redness and irritation after use.

Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone

About: Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone is the ideal solution to use after your pup has gotten an ear infection. 


  • Ear care for dogs and cats - soothes ear infections, redness and inflammation for pets of all ages
  • Gentle, no-sting formula
  • Solution provides a safe, natural alternative to medication with 1% Hydrocortisone for itch relief
  • No pre-cleaning of painful ears required - fill ear canal and let solution get to work

This dog ear cleaner is designed to fight active ear infections through its antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. It can treat acute and chronic ear infections whether they are caused by bacteria, fungus, or yeast.  

The hydrocortisone helps provide your pup with some relief from all of the itchiness and inflammation caused by the infection.  There is also a solution without hydrocortisone if your pup has irritated or broken skin.

The Zymox Otic treatment works well in conjunction with the Zymox Ear Cleanser with Bio-Active Enzymes to cover both preventative care and treat active infections.

PROS:  Owners report that this product is fast acting and quickly eliminates stinky odors while getting rid of pesky canine ear infections.

CONS: The Zymox Otic dog ear cleanser is more expensive than other products and comes in a small bottle of 1.25 fluid ounces.  A few owners report recurring infections after they stop using this product.  We’d also suggest checking with your vet before using this product if your pet suffers from other health issues.

Pet Aroma Care Ear Wipes

About: Pet Aroma Care Ear Wipes help prevent ear debris build up and infections in your dog’s ears.  These disposable wipes are a convenient, no mess way to keep your pup’s ears clean and avoid costly trips to the vet.



  • Regular use will help prevent ear infections
  • Convenient disposable wipes
  • For dogs and puppies

PROS:  These dog ear cleaning wipes are gentle on the ears, leaving them smelling nice and looking clean.  Owners love that the wipes are durable and don’t break down while they are cleaning their dog’s ears.  

Owners also report that their dogs (even the one’s who hate having their ears messed with) don’t seem to mind the wipes.  Some say they even seem to enjoy it!

CONS: While these wipes are great for preventative care and regular ear cleanings, they probably won’t be able to treat a current infection.  Some owners have noticed redness or breakouts after use, but these cases are rare.  Many owners report the wipes being smaller than expected, so they maybe not ideal for dogs with larger ears.

Burt’s Bees for Dogs Ear Cleaner

About: For those of you who prefer natural products, Burt’s Bees for Dogs Ear Cleaner might be the preferred dog ear cleaner for you.  


  • DID YOU KNOW - Dirt in your dogs ears is common, but when dirt stays trapped in the ear, a smelly,...
  • No. 1 PET GROOMING BRAND IN THE USA* - Join the millions of pet parents who can't get enough of...
  • EASY TO USE DOG EAR CLEANER - Place the dog ear cleaner bottle at the entry of the ear canal and...
  • SUITABLE FOR ALL DOGS AND PUPPIES -This gentle ear cleaner for dogs is pH balanced specially for all...

This 4 ounce bottle of liquid ear cleaning solution keeps dirty build up off the ear and removes excess moisture with ingredients like witch hazel.

Ingredients such as peppermint oil soothe your pup’s sensitive ears while emitting a refreshing smell that you and your dog can both enjoy!  This product is most effective as a preventative measure and might not be as effective against an active infection.

PROS: The natural ingredients in Burt’s Bees ear cleaning solution create a gentle, non-irritating cleanser for your pup, and the pleasant smell creates a positive experience for both you and your pooch.  This product even comes with a dropper that helps eliminate mess!  

CONS: Some owners report this product being less effective than stronger, less natural ear cleansers – this means that this product may not work as well for dogs with serious or chronic ear conditions. Some users were unhappy to discover that the Burt’s Bees ear cleanser contains denatured alcohol.

DIY Dog Ear Cleaning Solutions

If you are more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, or if you’ve tried dog ear cleaning solutions in the past and have been unsatisfied, maybe you’d want to try making your own ear cleaning solutions at home.

Popular mixtures include:

  • Vinegar, Boric Acid, & Alcohol. Mix 2 ounces of vinegar with a 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid. Then add in a few drops of rubbing alcohol.
  • Vinegar & Water. Another ear cleaning mixture involves combining 1/3 cup of vinegar with 2/3 cup of water. This is better for more sensitive ears, as rubbing alcohol can be harsh on some canine skin.
  • Almond, Olive, or Mineral Oil. Another natural solution is to simply use a few drops of almond oil, olive oil, or mineral oil.Add a few drops of oil to your dog ears, around the exposed skin outside of the ear canal. Let your dog move around to spread the oil, then clean gently with a cotton ball.

These mixtures help loosen the wax and debris so that they are more easily removed.

Some Breeds Are More Susceptible to Ear Issues Than Others

Some dogs are more prone to ear infections and unwelcome critters than others!  Dogs with allergies, floppy ears, and lots of hair in their ear canals are more likely to develop ear infections.

Some breeds that are particularly susceptible are Spaniels, Hounds, and Cavalier King Charles’.  Cleaning your dog’s ears can keep excess debris, moisture, and bacteria from building up and make more serious complications such as ear infections less likely to develop.

dog ear cleaning solutions

Avoiding Ear Mites

All breeds are susceptible to ear mites!  Ear mites are parasites that can infect your dog’s inner and outer ear canals.  

These pests spread easily through contact and your dog is more likely to have a run-in if he is social with other animals!  Mites live off the wax and oils in your dog’s ears are most easily detected by the dark, coffee ground-like discharge that is produced.  This discharge can fully obstruct your pup’s ear canals, so it’s very important to keep them clean.  

Ear mites cause irritation and itchiness, and your dog can make things worse by scratching or shaking his head excessively.  Mites can also lead to further complications and infections.  While ear cleansers will help alleviate symptoms of ear mites, you’ll also need to get medicine from your vet to get rid of them!

Warning: Never Put Objects In Your Dog’s Ear Canal!

Caution: With any ear cleaning solution or technique, it is important to not put any foreign object into your dog’s ear canal as you could push debris and wax farther down, or even hurt his tender ears!  Just think of how you wouldn’t put a Q-tip too far into your own ear! Instead, gently clean around the outside of the ear canal – just don’t go inside.

Also remember that the skin around your dog’s ears is very fragile and sensitive – make sure to be very gentle when cleaning around the ear canal.

Conclusion: Which Dog Ear Cleaning Solution Is Our Top Pick?

Taking into account price, convenience, and effectiveness, we recommend the Zymox Ear Cleanser with Bio-Active Enzymes as our top pick for dog ear cleaners.

This affordable product seems to be able to get the job done and keep your pup’s ears clean, odorless, and healthy.

The Zymox Ear Cleanser is excellent for preventative care.  However, if your dog happens to get an ear infection anyway, this ear cleaning solution can be used in conjunction with the Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone.  Between these two products, you’ll be able to keep your dog healthy with minimal hassle or cost!

Have you tried one of these ear cleaning solutions, or recommend any others?  Please share your thoughts and stories in the comments section!

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Written by

Ingrid Mangold

Ingrid Mangold lives in Burlington, Vermont and is taking classes to become a Certified Vet Tech. She is an aspiring dog owner who makes do at the moment by petting every dog she sees!


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