Can You Clean a Dog's Ears with Peroxide?

Imagine this: your beloved dog is shaking its head more than usual, a clear sign of ear discomfort. As a responsible pet owner, you know it's time to address this, but the question is, how? "Can I use peroxide?" – this question might have crossed your mind, or perhaps you've heard others suggest it. In the vast world of pet care, where advice ranges from the traditional to the unconventional, the use of peroxide for cleaning a dog's ears has sparked a lively debate among pet owners and veterinarians alike. We'll explore the surprising truths, debunk myths, and provide you with the essential information you need to ensure the well-being of your canine companion's ears.

Can hydrogen peroxide treat a dog's ear infection?

Clean ears

It's generally not recommended to use hydrogen peroxide to clean your dog's ears or to treat ear infections. Using this chemical as an ear-cleaning solution can cause more harm than good. Here's why:

Irritation to the ear canal

Your dog's ear canal is very delicate, therefore you must be careful in selecting the solution used on the ear. Hydrogen peroxide has an oxidizing effect which releases oxygen upon contact with an organic tissue. The bubbles produced by this chemical reaction can damage healthy skin cells, irritate the sensitive ear canal, and potentially inflame it.

Furthermore, this substance can also have a drying effect on the dog's ears. Dehydration may lead to cracking or peeling inside the ear canal, causing itchiness and a burning sensation. This, in turn, can lead to excessive scratching which makes the ear even more prone to infections.

If your dog has an ear infection, cleaning the ears with peroxide may worsen the condition and delay the healing process.

Disruption of the ear flora

The ear canal has a natural pH level which helps maintain healthy flora inside the ears. This pH level must stay balanced for the ear canal to function properly, including its ability to fight off ear infections. Using peroxide in ear cleaning can disrupt this equalization, resulting in discomfort and agitation.

Pure hydrogen peroxide has a pH level of approximately 6.2, while a dog's ear pH level can range anywhere between 4.6 to 7. That means the pH level in peroxide is much higher than the pH level in most dog's ears. If used in the ear cleaning process, this compound can alter the ear's natural pH level, interfere with the natural microbial balance, and thus make your pup more vulnerable to ear infections.

Impairment of ear wax's function

Ear wax has several important functions, including trapping dust and debris and acting as a barrier against bacteria and fungi. The oxidation from peroxide can lead to the breakdown of organic compounds, thus modifying the consistency, texture, and chemical composition of ear wax. It may make the ear wax more liquid or hardened and tougher to clean. This can fundamentally change the properties of earwax and impact how it protects the ear canal.

How Does Hydrogen Peroxide Work?

Can You Clean a Dog's Ears with Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide is a popular household item used widely thanks to its cleaning properties. Scientifically known as H2O2, this chemical compound releases oxygen when it decomposes, which could lead to different effects depending on how it's used.

One of the most common uses of hydrogen peroxide is disinfecting and cleaning wounds. When applied to a wound, it's separated into water (H2O) and oxygen (O2). The emission of oxygen causes foaming, which physically pushes dirt and dead tissue up to the wound's surface, thus sanitizing the wound.

Hydrogen peroxide also has antiseptic properties. An antiseptic can stop and slow down the growth of microorganisms. By inhibiting and killing bacteria and fungi, peroxide can be applied externally on the skin to prevent infection from cuts, scrapes, and burns.

Despite the functions of hydrogen peroxide, it's generally discouraged to use it in dog's ears cleaning. The irritation and damage it can cause often outweigh any benefits from its antiseptic properties.

What Should You Use To Clean Your Dog's Ears?

Clean dog ears

Here are some alternative solutions to clean your dog's ears at home. If your dog is sensitive or on medications, consult with a veterinarian before using these formulas for the best result.

Ear cleaners

Safe, mild ear-cleaning solutions can be easily found at pet stores or online stores. The cleaning process (as demonstrated by Bernardo Heights Vet below) is simple: pour the ear cleaner into your dog's ears, gently massage for 30 seconds (you should hear a squishing sound) then use a cotton ball or a dry towel to gently wipe out any excess. We don't recommend cotton swabs as they can hurt the ear.

Regular cleaning is one of the best ways to deter wax build-up, keep ear mites at bay, and prevent ear infections.

@bernardoheightsvet We love the big dog ear cleaning grumbles 🥹✨ #earcleaning #dogsoftiktok #sandiego #dogvideo #fyp ♬ original sound - Bernardo Heights Vet

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar, which is in most household pantries, is a convenient way to clean your pet's ears at home. The pH level in this apple cider vinegar is typically low, around 2 - 3 which makes it slightly acidic and perfect for the ear canal. A low pH level typically restricts the growth of harmful germs and fungi, which is why the ear canal's environment is considered slightly acidic. Apple cider vinegar is both anti-bacterial and anti-fungal which is great for fighting a yeast infection.

One note of caution: do not apply apple cider vinegar on an open wound or cut, as it can irritate and worsen the wound.

Green tea

Green tea, with its mild and anti-inflammatory properties, serves as an excellent choice for cleaning your dog's ears. Start by brewing a cup of tea in hot water and allow it to cool completely before use. For application, you can either dip cotton balls in the tea and gently clean the ear, or carefully inject the tea into the ear canal using a syringe. Massage the solution in the ear for about 30 seconds to a minute, then use a clean towel to remove any remaining liquid.

Enhance the cleaning efficacy by combining apple cider vinegar with green tea, creating a more potent solution for a deeper ear cleanse.

When should I clean my dog's ears?

To ensure your dog's ears remain healthy, a monthly cleaning routine is ideal. However, if regular grooming appointments are part of your dog's schedule, the groomer will likely take care of this, potentially obviating the need for additional cleaning at home.

Be vigilant for signs of ear infections, such as a foul odor, , or redness and inflammation in the ears. These symptoms indicate that it's time for a professional evaluation by a veterinarian.

It's equally important to avoid over-cleaning your dog's ears. Excessive cleaning can strip away beneficial bacteria and upset the delicate microbial balance within the ear canal, potentially doing more harm than good.


In conclusion, while hydrogen peroxide may seem like a handy solution for your dog's ear care, it's best to steer clear of it due to the potential risks and irritation it can cause. Instead, safer alternatives like specialized ear cleaners, apple cider vinegar, and green tea offer gentler and more effective ways to maintain your dog's ear health. Always consult with a veterinarian for tailored advice, especially if your dog shows signs of ear discomfort or infection.