Many dogs can benefit from having their ears cleaned regularly. This is especially true for dogs with droopy ears that are prone to infection. While you can purchase ready-to-use preparations from a veterinarian, there are several preparations you can make at home that will do an adequate job. The main idea behind making an ear cleaner is to ensure proper drying of the ear canal to prevent bacterial and yeast growth.
For regular cleanings, a simple concoction of 1 part apple cider vinegar to 2 parts warm water will work beautifully. Combine the ingredients and use a glass or plastic dropper to place the mixture in the ear canal. Massage the base of the ear to agitate the solution in the canal and loosen any earwax or debris. Then use cotton-tipped applicators to remove the mixture and debris that you can see in the canal. Do not go more than 1/2 inch into the canal.
The vinegar will alter the pH of the ear canal, killing any bacteria or yeast that is residing there and is slightly acidic, which helps breakdown earwax and other debris. You can safely flush the ears once a week.
If your dog has a bacterial ear infection, you should use a different recipe for ear cleaning. Combine 1 part witch hazel to 3 parts apple cider or white vinegar. The application of this mixture should work in a similar manner as regular cleaning. However, a dog with an ear infection may have extremely sore ears, so the cleaning process should be carried out gently, yet thoroughly.
The vinegar changes the pH of the ear canal, while the witch hazel acts as an antiseptic and does a great job at removing moisture from the ear canal. Use twice a day until the infection clears up.
Fungal infections, such as yeast infections, are common among dogs that spend a lot of time in water. Special steps should be taken to prevent fungal infections by cleaning the ears each time the dog has gone swimming or had a bath.
A good recipe for treating or preventing fungal infections is a prepared anti-yeast preparation, such as a medicated feminine douche product. Use such anti-fungal medications as a general ear wash up to two to three times per day in dogs with active infections and once a week for prevention.