Ask a Vet: Cleaning Your Dog's Ears

Ask a Vet: Cleaning Your Dog's Ears

Posted by Dr. Susan O'Dell on 25th October 2016

We asked veterinarian Dr. Susan O'Dell, "What are the best products for cleaning your dog's ears? What are some alternatives if you can't get the normal cleaner?" Read her response below!

When treating infections or for maintenance cleaning, I always recommend using a good commercial cleaner such as Malacetic Otic, Epi-Otic, or Triz-EDTA. Each of these products have properties that make them a better choice in different situations. 

Before using these cleaners or any other topical, I highly recommend an ear exam from your vet to find out if your pet’s ear drum (tympanic membrane) is intact. Any product has the potential to cause deafness, known as ototoxicity, if the ear drum is ruptured. In these patients, I may change my choice of cleaner.

If you are trapped in a blizzard or stranded on a desert island and simply cannot reach your veterinarian, here is an easy home cleaning recipe. Mix 1 part white vinegar (5% acetic acid), and 1 part saline (0.9% NaCl). Fill the ear canal with the solution, and massage the base of the ear for 30 seconds. Your pet will probably shake his/her head when you release the ear – watch out for flying cleaner and ear debris! Then, wipe the ear clean with gauze or roll cotton wrapped around your finger. Do not use cotton swabs in your pet’s ear.

Planning a trip to the vet? Review our Common Mistakes Made at the Vet article before you go!

Do you have a question for our vet? Email us at!

Dr. Susan O'Dell grew up in Michigan, where she received her Bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Michigan and her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Since graduating, she has practiced at animal hospitals all across New England, with a particular focus on educating small animal clients.

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