Many dogs will experience ear infections during their lifetime, and some will battle chronic infections that persist for years. Others may avoid true ear infections but still suffer from irritated or itchy ears caused by trauma, mites or allergies.
But no matter why your dog’s ears begin to bother him, it can be heartbreaking to watch your pet deal with these types of problems. Fortunately, there are a number of effective dog ear drops on the market, which can help eliminate these types of issues and help your dog feel much better.
Our Top Recommendation for Best Dog Ear Drops in 2023
The Zymox Otic ear cleanser is an infection and inflammation-fighting, anti-itch 1.0 % hydrocortisone solution with a patented LP3 enzyme system that eliminates painful pre-cleaning and application for dogs and cats of all ages and breeds.
*We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
But not all ear drops for dogs are created equally. Some are very effective, but others are unlikely to do anything but drain your bank account.
We’ll try to help you select the best dog ear drops below, so your pet can return to his healthy, happy self. We’ll also talk about some of the primary causes of dog ear infections and irritation, and then we’ll explain the best way to prevent ear problems from occurring in the first place.
Best Dog Ear Drop Reviews
|Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment with Hydrocortisone||• Contains hydrocortisone which relieves inflammation and itching|
• Treats acute and chronic otitis externa due to bacterial, fungal and yeast infections
• Contains a 3-point enzyme system to destroy antibiotic-resistant microorganisms
|Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner||• Antiseptic formula|
• Contains no chlorhexidine or alcohol
• Product has a neutral pH
|EcoEars Dog Ear Infection Formula||• Natural formula that's free from pharmaceuticals, synthetic chemicals, hydrocortisone (steroids) or antibiotics|
• Can be used either as a cleaner or treatment
• Helps destroy antibiotic-resistant organisms in dog's ears
|Bark 2 Basics Dog Ear Cleaner||• Naturally derived ingredient composition|
• Cruelty-free and soap-free formula
• Safe to use for dogs over six weeks of age
This dog ear drop solution by Zymox both cleans and prevents infections and irritations of the ear canal. As it can be used every day, or when needed, it’s useful to have for general health and hygiene, as well as to treat more troubling issues.
Zymox Otic contains 1% hydrocortisone which effectively treats acute and chronic otitis externa that are caused by bacterial, fungal and yeast infections.
Hydrocortisone is also very effective at reducing inflammation and itching, both of which can be very distressing and uncomfortable for your pet, and is one of the first signs you will note when an infection has taken hold.
Zymox ear drops for dogs contain a short dropper as opposed to a long thin in-ear applicator, so if your dog is mid-infection, it will be much less distressing for you to apply.
Quite simply, you just need to lift the ear flaps up, squeeze liberally, and gently massage the dog’s ear.
You will need to flush the ear out with these particular drops, which might be difficult if your dog is distressed due to the pain and inflammation.
Having said that, these drops work incredibly effectively and have been tested against the following bacteria: Pseudomonas, malassezia pachydermatis, Staphylococcus aureus, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Proteus mirabilis, Escherichia coli, Streptococcus intermedius, and Streptococcus pyogenes.
These drops also have an enzymatic formula that will help treat and ultimately break down any bacteria. Remember the dog’s ear is L-shaped and reaches much further down than what you can see. Being able to get right down into the ear with a formula that will clean, soothe, and treat any issues is exactly the right course of action.
- Contains hydrocortisone which relieves inflammation and itching
- Treats acute and chronic otitis externa due to bacterial, fungal and yeast infections
- Contains a 3-point enzyme system to destroy antibiotic-resistant microorganisms
- Short, non-intrusive nozzle for extra comfort when applying to the ears
- Can be used as both a cleaner and a treatment
- Works without antibiotics
- Available to bulk buy to spread the cost
- Only needs to be applied once daily
- Suitable for use on cats too
- Cannot be used in conjunction with any other ear treatment or cleaner
- Ear requires flushing out after treatment
These over the counter dog ear drops offer owners great value for the money and are certainly one of the best dog ear drops on the market. They are an easy answer to everyday cleaning as well as treating any issues that may occur, which cuts out the need for separate products for both needs.
They offer fantastic protection against a wide range of bacteria that can wreak havoc on your dog’s health, especially as ear infections can be very distressing to your pet, plus they are easy to use.
Just be sure to have cotton pads and Q-tips at hand to be able to clean out the results, as this is equally important as applying the drops.
Virbac is a popular company for producing health-related products for your pet; in fact, you may already be using some as recommended to you by your vet.
Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced product is their advanced ear cleaner, which is designed to be used regularly to keep your dog’s ears clean and help dislodge any buildup that may have occurred. It contains an alcohol- and chlorhexidine-free solution and has a pleasant but mild scent.
You can use the size of the bottle to your advantage, as the long but weighed tube will assist in applying as much as possible with the lightest squeeze.
This is useful given dogs can often hate having their ears cleaned if they haven’t been positively reinforced since they were a puppy, let alone if they regularly tend to get irritations and discomfort.
It’s important to apply liberally, especially as you need enough of the product to help you with the next stages of physical cleaning, not to mention when the dog naturally shakes to help dislodge the excess.
While it’s fantastic at cleaning your dog’s ears on a general basis, an obvious downside with this product is that it’s not a treatment if your dog has an infection. Therefore, while using it regularly may help avoid said infection, you will need to buy another product or consult your vet should more troublesome symptoms occur.
- Antiseptic formula
- Contains no chlorhexidine or alcohol
- Product has a neutral pH
- Anti-irritant technology
- Regular use will help keep infections at bay
- Drying solution makes it great for post-bath
- Acts as a cleaner rather than a specific treatment
A vet-recommended ear formula that should be a staple part of your dog’s grooming routine. When used regularly, it will help fight ear infections, irritation, and general discomfort.
However, it cannot be relied upon to be used as a treatment against inflammation and infection, so a vet will need to be consulted and different treatment sought in the case of anything serious.
When your dog is in pain or showing signs of irritation in their ears, naturally you want to help. However, you might be aware that many treatments contain harmful and strong ingredients which may even further irritate the ear, especially if your dog is particularly sensitive.
EcoEars is a fantastic ear medication as not only can it be used for cleaning your dog’s ears, but also for treating a variety of problems such as yeast infections and irritations. It is also recommended for use after water-based activities to ward off any infections that may occur due to the bacteria and molds your dog may be exposed to.
Probably one of the biggest advantages with EcoEars is the fact it’s totally free from strong, harmful, toxic ingredients.
It is a product that has been formulated under the Vet Organics brand, which produces innovative, effective, natural products for pets without the need for harsh ingredients.
In addition to this, the company only uses pure, high-grade herbs and essential oils and produce all their products exclusively in the USA.
Unlike some brands, Ecoears proudly displays a plethora of customer before and after shots showing real-life results from using their product, instead of writing claims alone with no photographic evidence to back them up.
Owners have reported their dog’s relief from a variety of issues such as redness, irritation, foul odors and other signs of infection that can make your dog utterly miserable if not taken care of.
This product doesn’t contain antibiotics instead of relying on natural ingredients that kill bacteria. While these ingredients have been proven to be very effective, you may need to consult with your vet.
All in all, a fantastic product worth woofing from the rooftops about.
- Can be used either as a cleaner or treatment
- Natural formula that’s free from pharmaceuticals, synthetic chemicals, hydrocortisone (steroids) or antibiotics
- Helps destroy antibiotic-resistant organisms in dog’s ears
- Specially formulated to promote faster healing of ear infections
- Non-toxic while remaining safe and effective
- Amazing customer before/after results from a variety of ear issues
- Money-back guarantee if it doesn’t cure the problem
- Doesn’t contain antibiotics which may be a problem if your vet has recommended them
This is an interesting yet very effective take on more sterile forms of dog ear drops which typically contain harsher ingredients.
The Ecoears Dog Infection Formula can be used for everyday maintenance for cleaning and dislodging debris; however, it can also be used if your dog starts to develop redness or an infection of the ears. It is also very effective at removing unpleasant odors from the ear, which often can be one of the first signs of infection.
The formula of this product has been specifically designed to encourage faster healing times, which is something you understandably want as an owner, as it is not a nice experience to see your dog in distress due to infection or inflammation.
While EcoEars doesn’t contain antibiotics, it is full of ingredients that are known to treat bacteria and other conditions of the ear which is why it’s so effective.
The Bark2Basics Ear Cleaner comes infused with aloe vera and chamomile extract to break through tough and built-up wax. This mixture also cleans out the ear without any residue. Collectively, its ability to act as a deep cleanser and deodorizer for your dog’s ear area makes it an excellent all-in-one ear hygiene product.
The product is formulated with witch hazel which protects the skin, prevents infections, and reduces skin irritation. Amongst its many benefits, another noteworthy one is that it doesn’t leave behind oily or greasy residues after cleaning out the ear. However, some dogs might experience dryness in the ear canal after use.
Not to forget, Bark2Basics offers a professional-grade cruelty-free product that also protects the environment by abiding by sustainability principles. Hence, if your pup is allergic to chemicals and additives, worry not! This ear cleaner is a mix of all-natural ingredients, including purified water, witch hazel, chamomile extract, and aloe vera to soothe your dog’s ear, clean the insides thoroughly, and leave a lovely fragrance.
To use, shake well and apply to your pup’s ears. Further on, gently massage the base of the ears to distribute the solution evenly. Finally, clean the ears easily with cotton pads and wipe off any excess liquids. If needed, repeat the process when required.
- Contains gentle aloe vera and chamomile extract that breaks through ear wax while drying and deodorizing the ear canal
- Bark2Basics products are handcrafted in small batches to ensure optimum quality
- Does not leave oil residues after ear cleaning
- Professional-grade formula comes in a concentrated form that can be diluted to a 16:1 ratio
- Natural ingredients are sourced worldwide for top quality in every batch
- Provides an alcohol-free formula
- Comes with a soothing witch hazel fragrance
- Contains tea tree oil that can heal damaged skin and ward off skin infections
- Does not remove any previously applied topical products for flea and tick infestations
- Scent of witch hazel might be unappealing to some dogs
Ear cleaning should be a daily aspect of your doggo’s regular grooming routine. Bark2Baiscs Dog Ear Cleaner is an all-natural formula recommended by vets. If used regularly, the product will undoubtedly help against ear infections and discomfort and irritation in the ear tract.
While the fragrance might be intense for some, most pooches will love the gentle and calming after-effects of this ear cleaner. Not to mention its effective treatment of microbial infections, which is an additional benefit.
How to Select the Best Ear Drops for Your Dog
There are a large number of dog ear drops available on the market, but you’ll need to select a product carefully to have the best chance of success. A few of the most important things to keep in mind when making your selection include:
- Try to identify the cause of your dog’s ear problems. Then select a product that specifically states it will treat the problem you’ve identified. Some ear problems in dogs are easy to identify, while others may require your vet’s help to properly diagnose.
- Consider the length of the nozzle or medication dispenser when making your choice. If your dog’s ear problem is deep in the ear canal, you’ll need a longer nozzle than you will to treat a superficial problem.
- Some ear-cleaning products are a combination of medication and an ear-cleaning solution. These types of products that offer two-for-one may produce quicker results.
- Use caution when purchasing ear drops that contain alcohol. Alcohol can dry out your dog’s ears or even cause pain.
- Don’t forget to compare prices on an ounce-by-ounce basis. Some manufacturers try to hit a given price point by reducing the amount of ear cleaner or medication contained in the bottle. So, just be sure to do the math before making your purchase, if you are concerned about the cost.
Symptoms of Ear Infections and Irritation
Different types of ear problems can trigger different types of reactions, but most dogs suffering from an ear infection or just simple irritation will exhibit one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pawing at the ears (and the surrounding area)
- Rubbing the ears or side of the head on the floor or other objects
- Yellow, green, brown or red discharge
- Cheese-like odor near the ears
- Redness or swelling of the ears
- Scabs or crusts in the ears
- Hair loss around the ears
- Hearing loss
- Balance and coordination problems
Most dogs who are experiencing ear-related problems will exhibit one or more of the symptoms mentioned above, but ear infections occasionally fail to cause any obvious signs. This is one of the reasons that regular veterinary visits are important – your vet is more likely to notice a subtle or symptomless problem than you are.
The Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs: Why Are My Pet’s Ears Infected?
There are an array of reasons your dog’s ears may be bothering him – that’s part of the reason that ear problems can be so frustrating to fix. Additionally, your dog may be suffering from more than one problem at the same time. This can make it harder to determine the cause and the most effective treatment.
Some of the most common reasons that dogs suffer from ear infections or other types of ear-related problems include:
1. Yeast Infections
Yeasts are tiny fungal organisms that occasionally cause problems for dogs. Some are completely harmless, but others are often harmful. Dogs generally only contract these types of pathogenic (harmful) yeasts by inadvertently coming into contact with them.
Other yeasts are normally harmless, but they become problematic if their numbers grow out of control. These types of yeasts often compete for resources with bacteria and other organisms living on your skin. This normally keeps their numbers in check. However, when something upsets this microscopic ecology, such as the eradication of the bacteria or the introduction of a harmful bacteria, the yeast’s numbers can explode.
Yeast infections typically cause severe itchiness, and they have a characteristic odor, often described as being reminiscent of cheese or mold.
2. Bacterial Infections
Bacterial infections may occur for a variety of reasons. As is the case with yeast infections, some are caused by pathogenic bacteria, while others are the result of normally harmless species, whose numbers grow out of control. Similarly, some bacterial infections will occur directly on the skin of your dog’s ears, while others will only cause problems in areas in which the skin is broken.
Various strains of Pseudomonas and Staphylococci bacteria are some of the most common organisms that cause problems, but the list of potential bacterial pathogens would be nearly endless. Fortunately, most respond well to antibiotics.
Allergic reactions occur when your dog’s body overreacts to a normally harmless protein. This overreaction causes the body to release histamines, which in turn cause redness, swelling, inflammation, and itchiness. Antihistamines are one of the most common types of medications used to treat allergies, but corticosteroids can be more effective in some cases.
You can also try to eliminate your dog’s exposure to the protein causing the problem — called the allergic trigger. However, this isn’t always possible. Some common food allergies triggers may be found in your dog’s food, and these are pretty easy to avoid once you identify them. However, environmental triggers, such as smoke, pollen or dust, can be more difficult to avoid.
4. Fleas, Lice or Mites
Biting bugs can also irritate your dog’s ears. These creatures cause problems through their feeding activities. The bites from these bugs are inherently painful or itchy, but some dogs also develop allergies to the proteins present in the bug’s saliva.
These insects and arachnids are very contagious, and they can quickly spread from one dog to the next (although fleas are generally transmitted indirectly, as their eggs are spread through the environment). Accordingly, it is important to treat all of the pets in your home (including cats) if ear mites are detected.
Fleas and lice are generally easy to treat with an over-the-counter preventative flea medication, and some of these products also work on ear mites. Other ear mite infections will require veterinary assistance to eliminate.
Various traumas can cause ear irritation or itchiness. Some can also expose your dog’s ears to secondary infections, which may lead to very serious problems. Treatment for these types of problems will vary with the cause and severity, so it is typically wise to contact your vet whenever your dog experiences trauma in or around the ear.
Administering Ear Drops to Your Dog
Different dog ear drops and cleaners are designed to be applied in different ways and in different amounts. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure to follow the directions included with the problem to the letter. If you are at all unclear about the proper way to administer the drops, contact the manufacturer or your vet and solicit their advice.
But despite the differences in various products, you’ll always need to approach and handle your dog in the proper way when treating ear infections and other problems. Many dogs with ear infections don’t like their ears to be touched, and some may not like the sensation of the drops – even if they don’t cause pain.
So, do your best to be gentle, calm and reassuring throughout the process. Often, the best approach is to sit or kneel alongside your dog, so you can provide affection and praise throughout the process.
You’ll need to remain firm – your dog must understand that you are going to administer the drops one way or another. This will help discourage him from working against you or resisting it. Get a friend or family member that your dog trusts to help out if need be.
Once you’ve administered the drops in the manner described by the product, give your dog plenty of praise and one of his favorite treats. Then, be sure to clean up any mess, put away the medicine and wash your hands with soap and water.
Preventing Ear Infections and Other Ear Problems
It’s always better to prevent dog ear infections than it is to treat them after they occur. And while ear problems may occur despite your best attempts to prevent them, the following tips will usually help keep your dog’s ears healthy:
- Clean your dog’s ears on a regular basis. This will help remove some parasites, as well as the debris upon which some bacterias subsist.
- Give your dog regular baths – particularly after spending significant time outdoors. Several different types of bacteria and other or may cling to your dog’s body after swimming at the local pond or running through the woods. Simply bathing your dog regularly will help wash away these types of pathogens.
- Be on the lookout for signs of food allergies. Oftentimes, food allergies will first manifest as general itchiness before causing problems in your dog’s ears. By treating food allergies promptly, you may be able to avoid ear involvement at all.
- Use a good preventative flea treatment. Doing so will not only reduce the odds that your dog will suffer from flea bites in his ears but many preventative flea medications will also prevent problems caused by lice or mites.
- Be sure to continue any ear treatment until the problem has resolved completely. Additionally, if you are using veterinary-prescribed antibiotics, always be sure to complete the entire prescribed treatment – don’t stop giving your dog his medicine early if he starts getting better.
Ear problems can certainly be frustrating, but they’re usually easy to eliminate if you select one of the best dog ear drops and use them properly. Just be sure to follow the directions provided by the drops and visit your vet if the problems do not go away in short order.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.