What’s the Best Dog Ear Cleaner Out There? (Now Hear This)
Cleaning your dog’s ears is an essential part of the grooming process. It’s also a tricky one, and not just because your dog won’t be too keen on the ear cleaning process. Fortunately, there are plenty of canine-specific ear cleaners on the market. Which one’s right for your pooch?
OUR PICKS FOR THE BEST DOG EAR CLEANER
**There's more info below, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
The Importance of Keeping Your Dog’s Ears Clean
Let’s state the obvious – your dog is not going to like getting his ears cleaned the first few times you give it a try. While you can use basic training techniques to eventually turn the process into a positive experience, he’s going to fuss until he learns. Don’t let this discourage you from making this an essential part of the routine.
Your dog’s ears are a haven for infection, brought about by a host of varying elements. Some of these are symptomatic of other issues, such as allergies or hypothyroidism. However, a healthy chunk of them is caused by physical elements, such as ear mites, wax buildup, foreign objects, or excessive dog hair.
Ear infection and its associative inflammation, also known as otitis externa, can cause immense discomfort in your pooch. If left untreated, your dog could experience irreversible damage to his ear canal and middle ear. Fortunately, routine ear cleaning is usually all it takes to minimize the onslaught of physical causes.
What You Should Know Before Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears
It’s important to realize that a dog’s ear is not universally shaped, and that certain breeds are more prone to infection than others. Breeds known for having floppy or hairy ears are particularly susceptible to infection issues.
You should also be aware that most dogs' ear canals are not shaped the same as our ears. They tend to have a right angle bend in the canal that shifts the direction of the canal from going vertical to horizontal. This feature makes it easier for debris to collect and settle inside the ear.
If you suspect your dog is in a great deal of pain over an ear infection, don’t simply resort to doing a cleaning session. Take your four-legged friend to the vet as soon as you can. Your vet will be able to diagnose any problems beyond “debris in the ear,” and prescribe a medical treatment to combat that particular issue.
Your dog will give you plenty of visual clues to inform you he’s hurting pretty badly. Some of these signs are directly physical in nature, such as hair loss around the ear, redness, or an unusual discharge. Others are a behavior-based; walking in circles, persistent head shaking, and a loss of balance could all be indicators of an ear issue.
How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears
If you are merely looking to do routine ear cleaning, there is a right way to carry out this essential part of doggie maintenance. Again, it may take some training for your pooch to calmly allow you to explore his ear. When you get to that point, you’ll find the process not to dissimilar to nail clipping or teeth brushing.
What to Look for in a Dog Ear Cleaner
There are plenty of ear cleaners out on the market for you to choose from. As is the case with any over-the-counter dog-centric product, all products are not created equal even though they purport to help you reach the same end goal. The good news here is that there are a few things to look for that will help narrow down your search.
First and foremost, you’re going to want to look for a product that will be as gentle on your dog’s ears as possible. You should never use anything involving alcohol, vinegar, or hydrogen peroxide. These act as skin irritants and can cause more pain for your pooch, particularly if the ear canal is inflamed.
There are different methods behind how an ear cleaner may work. Some cleaners do their magic by breaking up wax and debris to allow for easier dislodging, while others work to dry the ear canal. Some products will even deploy both tactics to eradicate the problem.
You may also want to look for a product that contains the ability to act as an antifungal ear treatment and an antibiotic. This will help keep any potential inflammation or infection at bay even as it cleans debris from your pooch’s ears. Considering how painful ear infections can be, it may be wise to be proactive.
Because of the sensitive nature of the ear canal, you may want to consider products that have natural ingredients. Treatments containing elements like aloe vera or eucalyptus tend to have natural anti-inflammatory properties, so you won’t have to worry about them somehow working on an inferior level compared to the chemical stuff.
If you’re worried about your pooch freaking out a bit during the process – particularly if you’re just starting the process with him – you may want to consider a treatment that contains aromatherapy elements. The smells produced by these treatments are known to help sooth a dog’s nerves, which may make the process run smoother.
How Often Should I Clean My Dog’s Ears?
It’s recommended you clean your dog’s ears around once a week. Ideally, this time interval will prevent too much debris from settling in the ear canal. It also gives you the opportunity to thoroughly inspect your pooch’s ears to make sure there isn’t anything particularly funky happening, like an abnormal discharge.
If you do see signs of excess debris built up in your pooch’s ears, avoid the temptation of trying to get at it with a Q-tip. Because of the shape of the dog’s ear canal, you’ll end up pushing the debris further down his ear, which can make a bad situation far worse.
Also, if you notice anything highly unusual such as an oddly-colored discharge or a rank odor, don’t assume that an ear treatment or a routine cleaning will knock out whatever issue may be causing the symptom. Schedule an appointment with your vet.
OUR FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS
If you want to take a more no-nonsense approach to cleaning your dog’s ears, you may want to consider Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner. The reason for this is because it contains the basics that you should be looking for in a cleaner.
It won’t give you some of the extraneous stuff like aromatherapy benefits, but it does give you a good rule of thumb of what should ultimately dictate the purchase of whatever dog ear cleaner you choose to purchase. The drying solution contains no alcohol, and it contains a low pH of 2.2.
This latter metric is important to note because it gives an indication of its effectiveness. The lower the pH count, the more effective it will be in helping combat any ear inflammation or infection. When used routinely, the substance may be able to help subdue infection issues before they develop into full-blown problems.
Cleaning a dog’s ear can sometimes not be the most pleasant experience in the world. After all, you may have to do battle with waxy, gunk, and other debris, which can get kind of gross. While dealing with these substances is part of the joy of owning a dog, Pet MD – Otic Cat & Dog Ear Cleaner can help make it less of an ordeal.
The veterinarian formulated treatment is worth considering because it takes a gentle, natural approach to cleaning, as the cleanser is made with aloe vera to help soothe your pooch’s ear as it cleans and dries. It also acts as a deodorizer, as the product carries a sweet pea scent.
This deodorizer could be more of a selling point than you may think. Even if your dog’s ears aren’t producing the kind of deeply funky scent that should inspire you to visit the vet, they can still carry an unpleasant smell. This is particularly the case if you have a floppy-eared dog, since the canal is harder to dry out.
An ear treatment with deodorizing properties will allow your pooch to smell his best, even in an area prone to developing dankness. If you are concerned about a deodorizer potentially masking a genuine ear issue concerning your dog, don’t fret – if something foul is truly afoot, your dog will have no problem letting you know somethings happening.
Regardless of what approach you choose to take with your pooch’s ears, it’s important that you don’t treat them like an afterthought during the grooming process. It may be easy to take this part of the body for granted since it doesn’t seem as critical as his coat or nails, but don’t ignore it, lest your dog potentially suffers. And you don’t want that, right?