How to Clean Your Dog's Ears with Apple Cider or White Vinegar

Large ears need cleaning too.
Large ears need cleaning too.

From the moment you start the bonding process with your new puppy, grooming should be a daily activity. Taking care of her ears is part of that process because sometimes they get dirty and even infected. The ear cleaner you can buy at your local veterinarian's office is effective but expensive. This is a recipe for an ear cleaner you can make at home.

Making an Ear Cleaner at Home Is Really Easy:

Use a solution that's half water and half vinegar.

The ratio is 1:1. If you use a half a cup of vinegar, mix it with a half a cup of water. The quantities do not need to be exact and I always like to add a little more vinegar that water. Use up all the solution and don't save any for next time— just mix it again the next time you need it.

Be sure to take a look at your dog's ears first to see if they are red and inflamed. If so, you need to make the cleaner with a lot less vinegar. Some vets recommend using only a 10% solution. If it is too strong and your dog has been scratching a lot because of allergies, ear mites, or some other infection, the vinegar can sting.

This method is only effective in removing some of the excess wax. It will diminish the effects of an infection but if the condition is severe and has been going on a long time, it can only be cleared up with other treatments, most likely antibiotics.

How to Apply the Vinegar Solution

Soak a few cotton balls in the mixture. If your dog has floppy ears, then lift them up and wipe the flap with the mixture. If her ears are dirty further down inside the ear canal, you can fill the canal up with the mixture, rub the ears vigorously, then let her shake her head. Wipe the excess out with a dry cotton ball. I do not recommend you stick a cotton swab down into the ear canal.

Westie ears are small buy may need cleaning.
Westie ears are small buy may need cleaning.

What Kind of Vinegar? For What Kinds of Ear Issues?

For ear infections, some people who are in favor of natural care recommend using apple cider vinegar in place of antibiotics. Apple cider vinegar may make the environment in the ear hostile to the bacteria and the issue might clear up without you having to resort to antibiotics.

If your dog has smelly earwax and you want to try the vinegar before taking him in to the veterinarian, clean the ears then apply a few drops of the apple cider vinegar to each ear once a day. Ear infections are hard to clear up so try this at least two weeks before giving up.

If your dog has ear mites, she will have a lot more wax and will need to be treated more vigorously.

If the dog's ears smell normal but her ear canals remain swollen and itchy despite being cleaned, she may have an allergy. Food allergies commonly present as ear swelling and itching. This is a problem you need to tackle as soon as possible. Chronic ear infections in dogs with floppy ears require expensive surgery.

Boxer ears.
Boxer ears.

Using vinegar and water to clean your dog´s ears is a simple and effective way you can keep her healthy. Use it every time you give her a bath, every time you take her swimming, or at least once a week when you are giving her a brief physical exam.

Doberman ears.
Doberman ears.

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Comments 14 comments

Arlene 7 weeks ago

Thank you, Dr Mark, for the good advice on an ear infection. I love to use home remedies when I can.

I love the photos of the dogs

Thank you once again


DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 5 months ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Angela, if she has scratched the ear up before you tried to dry it the vinegar can be painful.If she continues to keep her head tilted the only option is to pay for a vet exam so that the eardrum can be examined. If all is okay the vet will most likely prescribe a cream with steroids to reduce inflammation. Hopefully it was just water and she will be fine.

Angela 5 months ago

My dog has red swollen ear only on one side after I gave her a bath.. she's been shaking her head a lot but I just tried the vinegar and water mixture. She didn't mind me doing it but then now it's like she hates me.. she's hiding under the bed. Shaking her head a lot and scratched her ear some. She's keeping her head tilted. Hoping it will help her and not make it worse.. I read someone said that it works for humans as well but can he painful.. hope my dog isn't in too much pain..

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Leave a comment on the hub (positive or negative!) I would like to hear how it works for you.

sallieannluvslife profile image

sallieannluvslife 4 years ago from Eastern Shore

Thanks Dr. Mark, I did read the hub on apple cider vinegar and I think we will try that as well...there are many uses for apple cider vinegar with humans, why not dogs, too?! I guess I just never thought about it....that's why I love hubpages - Thanks!

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Have you tried an elmination diet for allergies? Food allergies often cause chronic ear infections. Check out the hub on apple cider vinegar also, an old product that may provide a new solution to those ear problems.

sallieannluvslife profile image

sallieannluvslife 4 years ago from Eastern Shore

This is a great tip! Maddie has a swollen ear from shaking or scratching because of allergies and the Vet told us to clean them out regularly. She is like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde when we mess around with her ears, though, so we are hesitant to clean them....we will definitely try this tip, though....thanks!

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Glad I could help. I appreciate your articles here at hubpages.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

The ear cleaner that I bought from the veterinarian has expired so I'll try the water and vinegar. Thanks!

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

The picture on the top is as African Wild Dog, not something that you would want around your house but really cute with those huge ears. Thanks for stopping by Fawntia, glad I could help!

Fawntia profile image

Fawntia 4 years ago from San Francisco

This is good information. We probably don't clean our dog's ears as often as we should, but next time we do, I'll keep this in mind!

wetnosedogs profile image

wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

Good to know about the vinegar and water.

I love that first picture of the dog. What breed, do you know?

DrMark1961 profile image

DrMark1961 4 years ago from The Beach of Brazil Author

Thanks Rebecca. I always worry that I am going to upset people with the photos of the cropped ears but I think they look nice.

rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

Thanks for the ear wash recipe. Needed it! Good job! Nicely illustrated too.

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