If you’ve done any shopping for your dog’s ear care recently, you may have noticed that there’s been a significant increase of widely available ear cleaning products. Having more choice is terrific, but how do you navigate all the cleansers, drops, flushes, and wipes — not to mention their barely-pronounceable ingredients? Is it even possible to find the best dog ear cleaners for your pups?
Thankfully, this list will help demystify the ear cleaning process. We’ve gathered up the most tried and tested picks for fighting a variety of ear ailments.
Our Top Picks: Best Dog Ear Cleaners
Here’s an overview of our favorite dog ear cleaners:
- Best Overall: Zymox Otic with Hydrocortisone. Zymox’s enzyme-based approach tackles a range of ear issues while safely working with your dog’s body.
- Best Natural: Vet Organics EcoEars. EcoEars passes on harsher chemicals in favor of naturally-occurring benefits from ingredients like tea tree oil.
- Best Natural Runner-Up: NaturVet Aloe & Baby Powder Scent Ear Wash. For a friendly price, NaturVet offers an ear wash featuring equally friendly natural ingredients.
- Best Budget: OtiRinse Ear Cleansing/Drying Solution. For that lucky dog with minor ear woes, OtiRinse is all you need for basic upkeep.
- Best for Routine Care: Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy. This gentle solution is the best bet for regular maintenance of your dog’s healthy ears.
- Best for Wax Build-Up: Vetoquinol Cerumene Ear Cleaner. Your dog didn’t choose to have waxy ears any more than you chose to have to clean them up. Vetoquinol can help.
- Best Ear Wipes: Pet MD Aloe Vera and Eucalyptus Dog Ear Wipes. Ear wipes offer an excellent option for mess-free ear health maintenance, and we recommend Pet MD.
- Best for Water Dogs: HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo. What’s shampoo got to do with it? If your dog is in and out of the water, consequently shampoo could make all the difference.
- Best Bacteria-Fighting: Douxo Micellar Ear-Cleansing Solution. Anti-inflammatory added to antimicrobial spells a quick recovery for dogs fighting off a bacterial infection.
- Best Yeast-Fighting: TrizULTA + Keto Flush. For tough fungal infections, ketoconazole is the key.
1. Zymox Otic with Hydrocortisone
The best dog ear cleaner overall
Brand: Zymox | Target Problem(s): Bacterial, Fungal | Notable Ingredient(s): Enzyme Formula | Price: 💰💰💰
There’s a reason why Zymox is popular. Its formula includes three different enzymes that exhibit antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. These bio-active enzymes work with your dog’s body to trigger chemical reactions that fight off harsh sources of otitis externa. For an all-around fighter for clean, healthy ears, Zymox is the heavyweight in your corner.
Zymox also adds hydrocortisone to its solutions. As a result, this helps prevent dogs from self-harming by scratching at an itchy infection.
- Reliable over the years
- Quick to show improvement
- Strong alternative to prescription-strength medication
- However, some owners prefer to avoid hydrocortisone, a steroid
2. Vet Organics EcoEars
The best natural dog ear cleaner
Brand: Vet Organics | Target Problem(s): Bacterial, Fungal | Notable Ingredient(s): Witch Hazel Extract, Tea Tree Oil, Alcohol | Price: 💰💰
Vet Organics is a leader in creating natural alternatives to traditional medications for pet skin care. In place of antibiotics, steroids, and harsh chemicals, EcoEars uses ingredients with naturally occurring antibacterial and antifungal properties. In addition, witch hazel, rosemary, and tea tree oil all give quick relief and, over time, make your dog’s ears less inhabitable for foreign invaders.
Though EcoEars does contain alcohol, few reviewers reported adverse reactions from their dogs.
- Quick relief
- Natural ingredients
- Reliable, years-old formula
- Some dislike tea tree oil scent
- Small cap can make for tricky use
3. NaturVet Aloe & Baby Powder Scent Ear Wash
The best natural dog ear cleaner runner-up
Brand: NaturVet | Target Problem(s): Bacterial | Notable Ingredient(s): Witch Hazel, Tea Tree Oil, Aloe Vera Extract | Price: 💰
If you’re looking for a natural cleaner but prefer to avoid alcohol, NaturVet is the best option. Its formula, like EcoEars, draws on the power of witch hazel and tea tree oil. The addition of aloe helps soothe irritated skin. This product is best for maintaining clean ears and is not meant to treat active infections.
- Gentle cleansing
- Good value for price
- Aloe helps reduce scratching
- Green dye can stain light-colored fur
- Baby powder scent is not for everyone
4. OtiRinse Ear Cleansing/Drying Solution
The best budget dog ear cleaner
Brand: Bayer | Target Problem(s): Routine Cleaning | Notable Ingredient(s): Dioctyl Sodium Sulfosuccinate, Aloe Vera | Price: 💰
If you’re looking for a basic cleanser to keep your dog’s ears clean and dry on the regular, OtiRinse is a reliable and affordable solution. It includes ingredients to break up waxy build-up and dry the ear canal.
This product is not for treating infections. But if your dog is prone to dirty ears or swims regularly, OtiRinse is an excellent choice for regular, gentle cleaning.
- Reasonably priced
- Great for swimming dogs
- Works well on long-eared dogs
- Smell is strong for some
- Not suitable for treating infections
5. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy
The best dog ear cleaner solution for routine care
Brand: SynergyLabs | Target Problem(s): Routine Cleaning | Notable Ingredient(s): Ketoconazole, Tetrasodium ETDA | Price: 💰💰
SynergyLabs ear wash solution utilizes a low concentration of ketoconazole, which fights yeast, and tetrasodium ETDA, which fights bacteria. These ingredients make it suitable for minor fungal and bacterial infections.
But we recommend Veterinary Formula, especially for routine cleanings and ear health maintenance. Alcohol-free, it uses organic acids for their gentle drying qualities so that it won’t irritate your dog’s ears.
- No strong odor
- Reliably effective
- Dissolves ear wax
- Cap breaks easily
- Small bottle means frequent re-purchasing
6. Vetoquinol Cerumene Dog Ear Cleaner
The best dog ear cleaner for waxy build-up
Brand: Vet Solutions | Target Problem(s): Wax | Notable Ingredient(s): Squalane | Price: 💰💰
Does your dog keep getting waxy build-up in the ears no matter what you do? Vetoquinol Cerumene comes recommended by the Animal Medical Center of Chicago for breaking down wax.
The active ingredient here, squalane, is often seen in human skincare products too. Once upon a time, we mostly harvested this natural lipid from shark livers! Thankfully, these days almost all of it is sourced more ethically through plant material. Its natural properties cut through and pick up oils, then strengthen the skin barrier.
- A little goes a long way
- Can be used in combination with some ear washes
- Gets ear wax out without the need for abrasive wiping
- Oily texture
- Can be messy clean-up
7. Pet MD Aloe Vera and Eucalyptus Dog Ear Wipes
The best ear cleansing wipes for dogs
Brand: Pet MD | Target Problem(s): Infection-Prone Ears | Notable Ingredient(s): Aloe Vera, Eucalyptus, Tetrasodium ETDA | Price: 💰
Let’s be honest. Ear washing can be an ordeal for dog and owner alike. Luckily, ear wipes make a good alternative for regular (and less messy) upkeep.
Pet MD’s wipes combine soothing aloe vera and eucalyptus with tetrasodium ETDA to ward off bacteria. Above all at a reasonable price, they can help maintain healthy ears for dogs who are prone to infection.
Take note, though, that wipes are not for treating infections in the ear canal. They are for keeping the outer reaches of your dog’s ears clean as a preventative measure. Never reach into a pup’s ear canal with a wipe.
- Relieves itching
- Gentle for regular use
- Dogs fight the cleaning process less
- Strong scent
- Wipes are on the small side
8. HyLyt Hypoallergenic Shampoo
The best preventative ear care for the aquatically-inclined
Brand: Bayer | Target Problem(s): Swimmer’s Ear | Notable Ingredient(s): Methylisothiazolinone | Price: 💰
Okay, hear us out. Hylyt shampoo is not an ear cleaner, but it can be an important addition to your dog’s skincare regimen, especially if your dog is an avid swimmer.
Unless you are medicating an active infection, cleaning your dog’s ears too frequently isn’t advisable and may even irritate a healthy ear. If your dog is frequently swimming, though, you want to be sure the ears are getting some extra attention. The American Kennel Club recommends a good shampoo after each swim paired with a regular ear cleaning.
HyLyt’s hypoallergenic shampoo is a great way to manage your dog’s skin after each swim without drying it out, meaning less scratching at those ears. It also contains antimicrobial ingredients, a bonus for pups who like to jump into murky lakes and rivers. After use, be sure to gently but thoroughly dry your dog’s outer ears.
- Subtle fragrance
- Gentle on sensitive skin
- Relieves dry and itchy skin
- Doesn’t lather heavily
- Mixed results for dogs with severe allergies
9. Douxo Micellar Dog Ear-Cleansing Solution
The best dog ear cleaner for bacterial infections
Brand: Douxo | Target Problem(s): Bacterial | Notable Ingredient(s): Phytosphingosine | Price: 💰💰
For example, say your vet has diagnosed your poor furball with a bacterial infection — now what? It can be challenging to sort through all the ear cleaners that advertise themselves as antibacterial.
We found Douxo’s Micellar solution to be a frequent reccomendation by vets. Dr. Donna Solomon of the Animal Medical Center of Chicago identifies it as a go-to recommendation because of its track record combating microbial infection and inflammation. We also noted that many reviewers mentioned that it was recommended directly by their veterinarian.
- Lasting cleanliness
- Vet-recommended but available online
- Bottle can dribble during use
- Not the most affordable option
10. TrizULTA + Keto Flush Dog Ear Cleaner
The best dog ear cleaner for yeast
Brand: Dechra | Target Problem(s): Fungal | Notable Ingredient(s): Ketoconazole, TrizEDTA | Price: 💰💰💰
Yeast infections in your dog’s ears can be smelly, painful, and stubborn. If your vet has diagnosed your pup with a yeast infection, look for an ear wash that contains ketoconazole. If the name sounds familiar, that’s because this antifungal ingredient is often in dandruff shampoos. It’s safe and effective.
We like TrizULTA’s combined use of ketoconazole and trizEDTA, a bacteria-fighting element. Most importantly, TrizULTA is a veterinarian-trusted brand with high-quality ingredients.
- Evaporates quickly
- Effective against yeast
- Can take a while to see full results
- Didn’t eliminate ear odor for some
What to Look for in the Best Dog Ear Cleaners
The first and most important step when choosing the best dog ear cleaners is to determine what specific needs your dog’s ears have.
First, take note of how serious your concern is. If you are looking for routine, preventative care, you have a variety of gentle options to choose from. However, if you notice excessive or potent-smelling discharge, redness and inflammation, or pain in your dog, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
The vast majority of canine ear issues fall into four categories: allergies, mite infestations, bacterial infections, and fungal infections (most commonly from yeast). Allergies and mite infestations will both certainly require a veterinarian’s attention and a prescription. On the other hand, bacterial and fungal infections can produce minor to severe symptoms. You can treat them with a correspondingly wide range of products, found in our list above.
Still unsure about what’s going on with your pup? Check out the next two sections for a deeper dive into dog ear ailments and aids.
What’s Going On Here?
Like we mentioned above, if you’re simply seeing some wax build-up or smelling a little funk, it’s likely that a routine ear cleanser will keep your dog in the clear. However, watch out for the warning signs of a more serious issue:
- Redness and inflammation
- Excessive head shaking or scratching
- Excessive discharge, especially when strong-smelling
- Discharge that is dark and coffee ground consistency (often a symptom of mites)
- Signs of pain or distress from your dog
If you are concerned (even just a little), contact your veterinarian first. Their expertise will help you know what kind of problem to target and, therefore, which products and ingredients to seek out.
Seeking Out and Sourcing Ingredients
Parsing ingredients can be tedious and confusing. Here’s a quick reference guide:
- Ketoconazole fights yeast
- TrizETDA, tetrasodium ETDA, and phytosphingosine fight bacterial infection
- Aloe Vera, Tea Tree Oil, and Eucalyptus soothe naturally
- Organic acids such as boric, malic, benzoic, and salicylic are preferable drying agents to alcohol (excepting benzyl alcohol)
- Powders formulated for drying purposes can clog ears; choose instead a solution containing organic acids
Many products are available online for a lower price than what you’d get buying directly from your vet. Even medications that require a prescription, such as treatment directed explicitly at ear mites, can be ordered through Chewy’s pharmacy, for example. Once you know what to look for, don’t be afraid to shop around for the best option for you and your dog.
For this guide on dog ear cleaners, our team spent 3 hours researching the most popular options from over 30 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about two hundred and fifty user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each cleaner. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 10 dog ear cleaners on the market. In conclusion, you can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.