How to Clean a Dog's Ears With Vinegar & Water

Vinegar and water solutions are helpful for routinely cleaning your dog’s ears. They are easy to use too. Mix the solution, apply it to your dog’s ears and gently wipe out the ear. Because vinegar is largely safe, inexpensive and easy to acquire, it is an excellent tool to have in your dog-care arsenal.

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The Benefits of Vinegar

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Vinegar is strongly acidic, but used properly it can dissolve earwax and safely lower the pH of your dog’s ears. Lowering the pH makes the environment in your dog’s ears less hospitable to pathogenic bacteria and yeast, which promotes good ear health.

Making the Mixture

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It is important to dilute vinegar with water, as it may irritate the sensitive skin of a dog’s ears. Combine one part vinegar with one part water to create an acceptable mixture. You can use white vinegar, or if you prefer, apple cider vinegar; both have similar properties and work for cleaning your dog’s ears. Once the mixture is ready, allow it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes so it warms to room temperature; introducing cold liquids into your dog’s ear canal can cause discomfort.

Cleaning Fido’s Ears

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Using an eyedropper, place several drops in your dog’s ear canal. Gently fold his earflap over the opening in his ear and massage the area to ensure that the vinegar saturates all of the ear’s surfaces. Make sure the vinegar does not get into your dog’s eyes, which can cause pain and irritation. Allow your dog to shake his head, which will empty most of the vinegar from his ear canal. Clean the ear with a cotton swab to dry any residual vinegar and remove wax and debris. Perform this type of routine cleaning weekly or as often as your vet recommends. Many dogs dread having their ears cleaned, so end each cleaning session by praising your pup and providing him with a treat.

Veterinary Advice

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While vinegar and water solutions are effective for dissolving earwax and routine cleaning, consult your veterinarian before attempting home treatment if your dog displays signs of an ear infection. Ear infections often cause your dog’s ears to smell, bleed or look red, scaly or irritated. Your veterinarian is likely to treat your dog’s infection with medications rather than vinegar. Vinegar should not be used on dogs with perforated eardrums. It can lead to the loss of hearing.