The Best Ear Drops for Dogs: Reviewed and Ranked

Written by Judie Sigdel
Updated: December 5, 2022
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Key Points

  • Our choice for the #1 Best Overall ear drops for dogs is Zymox Ear Solution for Dogs & Cats.
  • Most over the counter dog ear drops are designed to clean your dog’s ears to help prevent infections. There are some choices that are medicated and cheaper than prescription drops.
  • A strong cleanser and preventative drop is designed to discourage bacteria and yeast from growing in your dog’s ears in the first place.
  • If your dog has a minor ear infection, drops with an anti-inflammatory are important because inflammation is usually the main source of discomfort.

It isn’t uncommon for dogs to have problems with their ears. Canines with droopy ears are far more prone to these problems since their downturned ears tend to trap debris and moisture. However, any dog can experience ear problems. 

Luckily, you can avoid and even cure many ear issues with the proper ear drops. Most ear drops available over the counter are designed to clean your pet’s ears only, though this is often enough to avoid ear infections in most dogs. However, you can also find various medicated drops that are often cheaper than what you’d find at a vet’s office. 

Sometimes, vets may even recommend these drops to prevent and cure infections. 

However, not all drops are made equal. Below, we’ve reviewed some of the best ear drops on the market for dogs that really work. 

  1. Zymox Ear Solution for Dogs & Cats
  2. Zymox Ear Solution for Dogs & Cats
    • Fights inflammation and redness
    • Pain-free application
    • .5% hydrocortisone stops itching
    • Fast-acting
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  3. NaturPet Ear Drops Homeopathic Medicine for Ear Infections
  4. NaturPet Ear Drops Homeopathic Medicine for Ear Infections
    • All-natural with no medication
    • Contain olive oil, vitamin E, aloe vera, and other naturally soothing ingredients
    • Anti-microbial and anti-bacterial ingredients
    • Anti-inflammatory properties offer instant relief
    Check Chewy Check Amazon
  5. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy, 4-oz bottle
  6. Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy, 4-oz bottle
    • Helps prevent ear infections
    • Rapid relief of painful symptoms
    • Fights yeast and bacteria
    • Affordable cost
    Check Chewy Check Amazon

#1 Best Overall: ZYMOX Enzymatic Ear Solution

Our #1 Best Overall pick for ear drops for dogs is ZYMOX Enzymatic Ear Solution, an eardrop that is gentle to apply and takes care of inflammation immediately. These ear drops are designed specifically to fight inflammation and redness, which can help indirectly fight ear infections. If your dog’s ears are irritated, this is the cleanser you need. It is gentle and does not cause pain during application. However, it includes 0.5% hydrocortisone, which helps reduce inflammation. 

Because most ear problems are caused by inflammation, this solution helps you reduce pain and inflammation substantially. No pre-cleaning is required, as these drops will take care of that part too. All you need to do is put a couple of drops into your dog’s ears and then massage them gently. The formula will take care of the rest. 

Verified reviewers reported that these drops fix most minor irritations quickly. Plus, they can also work as a preventative for canines that are prone to ear problems.

While most reviews were overwhelmingly positive, some indicated that this product didn’t clear up their dogs’ ear infection, a few said that it was too expensive, and one indicated that their dog’s ear infection came back.

Pros and Cons of ZYMOX Enzymatic Ear Solution

ProsCons
This product is formulated to fight inflammation and redness, which can help fight ear infections indirectly.It may not clear up every dog’s ear infection.
Reducing inflammation can decrease your dog’s ear pain.It’s expensive.
These drops clean ears, too.Ear infections may recur.
They can be used as a preventative for dogs that a prone to ear infections.
#1 Best Overall
Zymox Ear Solution for Dogs & Cats
  • Fights inflammation and redness
  • Pain-free application
  • .5% hydrocortisone stops itching
  • Fast-acting
Check Chewy Check Amazon

2. Best Natural: NaturPet Ear Drops for Ear Infections

For those that don’t need something quite as strong as our first pick, you may be interested in NaturPet Ear Drops for Ear Infections. They are completely natural and contain no medication. However, they are specifically designed to help your dog’s ears stay healthy and clean. 

These ear drops contain ingredients like:

  • Olive oil
  • Calendula
  • Vitamin E
  • Basil oil
  • Aloe vera
  • Bergamot oil

All of these ingredients are completely natural, but they can have an effect on ear health. The manufacturer claims that they are anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, which helps prevent infections and ear problems of all kinds. Anti-inflammatories are also included for instant relief and pain reduction. Most ear problems are connected to inflammation, after all. 

With all that said, this formula is not as powerful as others, as it does not contain any medication. Therefore, this formula may not work for all pets. It is great at preventing infections and keeping your dog’s ears healthy, but it might not be enough to actually cure anything. In fact, the primary complaint from reviewers is that it didn’t clear up their dogs’ ear infections.

Pros and Cons of NaturPet Ear Drops for Ear Infections

ProsCons
These ear drops are formulated to keep a dog’s ears clean and healthy.Since it doesn’t contain any medication, it may not cure your dog’s ear infection.
They do not include medication, only natural ingredients such as essential oils.
The manufacturer claims that these drops are anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, which, in theory, could help prevent ear infections.
The manufacturer also states that this product includes anti-inflammatories for instant pain relief/reduction.
#1 Natural Pick
NaturPet Ear Drops Homeopathic Medicine for Ear Infections
  • All-natural with no medication
  • Contain olive oil, vitamin E, aloe vera, and other naturally soothing ingredients
  • Anti-microbial and anti-bacterial ingredients
  • Anti-inflammatory properties offer instant relief
Check Chewy Check Amazon

3. Best Medicated: Synergy Store Medicated Ear Drops

For serious ear infections, you may want to invest in Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy. While you should always take your dog to the vet at the first sign of an ear infection, these drops can help prevent ear infections and may be a suitable treatment (just ask your vet). It is designed to relieve symptoms right away, cure the source of the problem, and keep your dog’s ears clean. 

This formula contains a variety of different ingredients that are designed to help fight back against all sorts of different infections, including yeast and bacterial. Some of these ingredients include:

  • Lactic Acid: This ingredient reduces moisture, which is the main cause of most ear problems.
  • Benzoic Acid: As an anti-fungal, this ingredient is specifically designed to fight against fungal infections. 
  • Salicylic Acid: A natural anti-inflammatory, this ingredient reduces pain, swelling, and redness. It is added to provide instant relief to your pet. 
  • Ketoconazole: While most medicated ear drops do not contain this ingredient, it is a strong contender against fungal and yeast infections, helping cure the root of the problem. 

Plus, this formula is extremely inexpensive compared to most others on the markets. Therefore, it can save you quite a bit of money if it is suitable for your canine. We recommend asking your vet about it when you visit with your canine and using it for dogs prone to infections. 

While most reviewers indicated that this product helped to clear up their dogs’ ear infection, a number of buyers said that it did not.

Pros and Cons of Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy

ProsCons
This product is formulated to relieve ear infection symptoms, cure the source of the infection, and keep your dog’s ears clean.Some reviewers said that it didn’t resolve their dogs’ ear infections.
It includes ingredients to fight ear infections caused by yeast and bacteria.
It’s inexpensive.
#1 Best Medicated
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Ear Therapy, 4-oz bottle
  • Helps prevent ear infections
  • Rapid relief of painful symptoms
  • Fights yeast and bacteria
  • Affordable cost
Check Chewy Check Amazon

How to Choose the Right Ear Drops 

There are several factors that can affect which ear drops are best for your canine. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, which is why we included four different options in our reviews. 

Here are some things that you may need to keep in mind:

  • Use
  • Ingredients
  • Cost
  • Effectiveness

We’ll take a look at each factor one by one. 

Use

There are two main uses for ear drops: treating existing infections and preventing future ones. Which option you fall into depends on your dog’s current needs. 

For those that are prone to ear infections but not currently experiencing one, you probably need a strong cleanser and preventative drop. These aren’t always medicated. Instead, they’re designed to prevent the environment that encourages bacteria and yeast to grow in the first place. 

However, for dogs with minor ear infections, something medicated is typically called for. The exact medication needed will depend on the agent infecting your dog’s ears. Often, you’ll need to visit the vet to find out. 

We included medicated ear drops in our reviews as well — most of which contain multiple kinds of medication to fight just about anything. 

Ingredients

Certain ingredients work better for certain things. If your dog has a yeast infection, then an antibiotic won’t help. Usually, the only way to tell exactly what medication they need is to visit the vet, who may prescribe something. However, you can sometimes find ear drops over the counter that contain the same medication for less money, so be sure that you check our reviews above before purchasing an over-priced option from your vet. But only do so with your vet’s approval.

With that said, you do want to ensure that your chosen ear drops include some kind of anti-inflammatory. No matter what sort of infection your dog has, it will likely cause inflammation, which is the main source of pain and discomfort. Therefore, treating this inflammation is recommended. It will make your dog feel better and helps fight the underlying cause. 

Cost

The cost of ear drops is going to be an important aspect for most people. You don’t want to overpay for something when you can get the same results with a less expensive product. Therefore, we were very conscious of price when suggesting products. We chose the products that got the best results for the price. 

With that said, only you know your budget. Therefore, only you can decide which product is acceptable from a cost perspective.

Effectiveness

Of course, no one wants to purchase a product that just doesn’t work. For this reason, we highly recommend reading reviews like ours for information on whether or not the product actually works. Over-the-counter ear drops are not regulated, so companies can literally sell anything and make any claims they like.

How to Put Ear Drops in Your Dog’s Ears

Purchasing the correct ear drops is typically only half the problem. The other half of the process is actually getting the ear drops into your dog’s ears. 

As you might imagine, this can be difficult. However, it will depend mostly on your canine. Some dogs don’t seem to care much and will sit there happily, while others will fight like you’re trying to kill them. Having some sort of training is helpful in this situation, especially in regards to grooming. If the dog is used to sitting still to have their ears trimmed, then ear drops are much easier to apply. 

Either way, you’ll want to follow these general steps:

  1. Hold the ear drops in your dominant hand. While you may be tempted to hold your dog in your dominant hand, you’ll need more finesse in hand with the ear drops. If the ear drops need to be refrigerated, be sure to warm them to room temperature before adding them to your dog’s ear. Never heat medication on the stove or in the microwave. 
  2. With your other hand, hold your dog’s ears. You’ll need to gently pull your dog’s ear open (if it is floppy). You should have a clear view of the canal of your dog’s ear. 
  3. Apply the correct number of drops. Be sure to check with your vet or the directions that came with the medication for the correct number of drops. We know that it can be difficult to apply for the correct number when your dog is thrashing around. Luckily, most drops are estimates. So, if you apply one too many or too few, then it typically isn’t a huge problem. 
  4. Rub the base of your dog’s ear. You’ll need to rub your dog’s ear to encourage the drops to go deeper into the ear canal. Be gentle, as your dog’s ears are already sensitive.
  5. Give praise. When you’re done, give your dog plenty of attention and treats. You want the experience to be a positive one. 

If you have a particularly difficult dog or a larger one, you may need to get another person to help you with the process. Try to make it as positive as possible. If you can distract your dog with treats or attention, do so. 

Ear Infections in Dogs

Most ear drops are designed to prevent or treat ear infections. Some dogs are more prone to ear infections than others, such as dogs with hairy and floppy ears. 

Ear infections are painful, so most dogs will shake their head or mess with their ears as they attempt to relieve the discomfort. Some may scratch their ears as well. Usually, the dog’s ears may become inflamed as well. A common sign of infection is smelly ears. However, black or yellow discharge can occur as well. 

In chronic cases, the ears may get crusty. 

Ear infections and ear mites are commonly confused with one another. Therefore, it is essential to visit your vet so that they can help you tell the difference. Ear infections are far more common in adult dogs than ear mites. So, if you’re noticing these symptoms in adult dogs, it is probably ear infections. 

There are several things that cause ear infections, including funguses and bacteria. Therefore, it can be difficult to tell exactly what medication you should use for your canine. Many over-the-counter medications include multiple ingredients so that they can handle infections from multiple causes. However, if you visit your vet, they can pinpoint the reason and prescribe a specific medication. 

To figure out the cause of the ear infection, vets will look at your dog’s ears. Next, they can take a look at the material in the ear canal to determine the cause of the infection. Bacteria and funguses can be differentiated at this level. Sometimes, chronic ear infections need to be cultured to determine the exact pathogen causing the problem. 

Ear infections usually require medicated drops. You can get these prescribed at the vet. However, some over-the-counter options include the same medication vets use for cheaper. Therefore, we recommend asking your vet about over-the-counter options, including those we mentioned in our reviews. 

For chronic ear infections, your dog may need to have other tests run. For instance, some ear infections are caused by allergens are similar underlying illnesses. To prevent the ear infections from reoccurring, your canine will need these underlying problems handled as well. 

How to Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs

There are several steps you can take to avoid ear infections in dogs. Ear infections typically only occur under certain conditions. If you can avoid these conditions, then your dog likely won’t get an infection. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Limit moisture. Moisture causes fungus and bacteria to grow, which can cause ear infections. Anytime your dog has contact with water, be sure to dry the inside of their ear with a cotton ball. 
  • Clean their ears. Always clean your dog’s ears regularly. Use water and a cotton ball at the very least, though a commercial cleaning product can often do more to prevent infections. Once a week is often enough for most dogs, though some that are prone to ear infections may need more.
  • Remove visible debris. Debris in your dog’s ear can trap dirt and moisture behind it, which will cause infections. Therefore, always clean your dog’s ears when you notice debris.
  • Trim any hair. If your dog is hairy at all, we recommend trimming the inside of their ears thoroughly. You can do this at home or visit a groomer. This hair can trap moisture, which is the cause of most infections. 
  • Keep an eye out for infections. Smell your dog’s ears regularly and keep an eye out for redness. If you catch ear infections early, they are much easier to treat. 

Our Criteria and Experience: How We Chose the Best

When making our recommendations for the best dog eardrops, we researched many products to find quality ones that met the following criteria:

  • Recommended — We want to ensure that we only recommend products that have been formulated or recommended by veterinarians, are USDA approved, or come from legitimate companies that are trusted by animal communities for their high-quality products.
  • Safety — The ingredients used in these ear drops are safe for your dog, free from agents that could cause allergies or rashes. Disclaimer: Every case is unique, so we don’t guarantee your dog won’t have an isolated reaction to a given product. Any reactions in your dog that may arise should be taken up with the manufacturer and/or reported to your veterinarian.
  • Ingredients — We identified products that have the best ingredients to promote good ear health in your your dog; we provided options that contain anti-inflammatories like hydrocortisone, anti-bacterial ingredients, and other natural ingredients like aloe vera, vitamin E, or olive oil; gentle antiseptic for ear cleansers.

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About the Author

My passion is writing about animals. I’ve published articles on pet parrots, birds, and small animal care and reviews about pet food and products. I have an ever-evolving aviary and menagerie that has included cockatiels, parakeets, conures, European starlings, a chukar partridge, guinea pigs, dogs, and cats. I’m also the author of Faith without Labels: a Guide to Eclectic Spirituality.

The Best Ear Drops for Dogs: Reviewed and Ranked FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Can I use human ear drops on my dog?

You should never use human ear drops in your dog’s ears unless you are directed to by a vet. Human ear drops often contain medications that can be harmful to dogs. Therefore, not only will they potentially not help, but they can also cause serious reactions.

Dog and human ears are simply not the same. Therefore, you can’t use the same ear drops for both species.

Instead, we recommend choosing ear drops off of our list above – all of which are designed specifically for dogs. We’ve included medicated drops as well as simple cleansers, so you should be able to find something for just about every dog.

Can I treat my dog’s ear infection without going to the vet?

While you may be able to treat your dog’s ear infection without going to the vet, that is not recommended. Ear infections are usually very easy to treat. However, they can lead to complications over time if they are not treated correctly.

Therefore, you should visit your vet anytime you think that your dog may have an ear infection. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to pay for expensive treatments. Often, you can ask your vet about over-the-counter treatment options like the ear drops we included above. Some of them include the same types of medications that vets typically prescribe.

Can you use olive oil in dog’s ears?

Olive oil can help reduce the amount of wax in a dog’s ears. However, it is not as great as other cleaner options. Purchasing a commercial cleaner is typically always better than using olive oil. In fact, some commercial cleaners include olive oil and a variety of other helpful ingredients.

Medications work best on clean ears, so it is essential to keep their ears clean when they have an infection. Infections can also be prevented by keeping the dog’s ears clean.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.