Cleaning Ears and Treating Ear Infections


Own a Labrador or any drop-eared dog long enough and someday you’ll notice a foul-smelling odor coming from the ears. Dogs with drop ears are notorious for developing ear infections. Ear infections can make dogs and their owners miserable.

It’s probably the number one complaint of dog owners with their veterinarians. The dogs itch, and scratch their ears until they start bleeding. Hematomas can develop because of the shaking of the dog’s head and the intense itching and scratching.

Because the drop-ear hangs down and doesn’t allow air to flow through the ear, they are subject to ear problems since a moist, dark, and hot ear is an ideal growth medium for bacterial or yeast infections. Because of this problem, it is important to keep your dog’s ears clean.

Owners of floppy-eared dogs should regularly check the ears for a build-up or an odor inside the ear, particularly if the dog scratches the general area of the ear a lot, shakes its head often holds the head crooked, or rubs its head. If your dog has these symptoms, you are probably looking at an ear infection.

Ear infections can be dangerous if they’re ignored. The eardrum can perforate or the infection could travel to the brain since it is so close to the ear canal. Always have your vet check the ear the first time you notice a smell, a buildup inside, or any of the previous symptoms. Your vet can determine if you’re dealing with excess wax, yeast, or ear mites.

This is the best solution I have used when it comes to gunky ears.  It was given to me years ago by a veterinarian. This is not my recipe.  As stated, it was given to me years and years ago by a vet.  I put it up on my website for information only.

16 oz. bottle isopropyl alcohol (or witch hazel)
4 tablespoons Boric Acid Powder
16 drops Gentian Violet 1% Solution

Mix all ingredients in the alcohol bottle & shake. (make sure you shake before every application).

Treatment: Fill the ear with solution & massage gently for 30 seconds and wipe with a tissue. Fill a second time and just wipe without massaging. The dog will shake the excess out. Be careful, the Gentian Violet could stain.  I use an eye dropper to fill the ear.

2 times per day for the first 2 weeks
1 time per day for the next 2 weeks
1 time per month thereafter

If you are concerned about the alcohol burning the inside of the ear (it could be if the dog has been scratching its ear), then you can substitute the alcohol with witch hazel.

All ingredients are available at a pharmacy. The Boric Acid is usually in the First Aid section where you find the alcohol.  The Gentian Violet will be the hardest to find and may need to be specially ordered.  

You can buy the potion already mixed HERE, or HERE.


Even despite the alcohol, dogs don’t object to even the first treatment. The Boric Acid soothes the ear & Gentian Violet is an anti-infection agent. This solution is also effective for the treatment of fungus-type infections on the dog including hot spots.

Avoid getting in the eyes.

This recipe or ones similar to it have been circulating on the Internet for years.  This is the one that was given to me long before the Internet was around, which is why I have it on my site.


This recipe is only intended to be used as indicated above, site owners nor Woodhaven Labradors and/or their agents will be not responsible for any injuries resulting in the use of this recipe, use at your own discretion and at your own risk.

The frequency of the ear cleaning depends on how often your dog goes swimming and the temperature; you’ll need to do it more often if you live in hot and humid climates or during the summer.

When cleaning your dog’s ears, remember to never insert anything into your dog’s ear canal… NO Q-TIPS. If you notice something in the ear, please let your vet take a look at it instead of trying to do something yourself.

If, despite following the above routine regularly, your dog still gets ear infections, it may be due to a food allergy/sensitivity. If you believe this to be the case, you may want to have allergy tests done to try and determine which food products your dog can tolerate. Usually, if you change to a different protein source, the ears clear up. It can take many weeks for a food allergy to resolve, so be patient!

Sometimes, just changing the dog’s body pH is enough to end the cycle of ear infections. Usually, yeast will become a problem if your dog’s system is too alkaline. You can check this with pH strips in your dog’s urine. If it is too alkaline, you can add acidity to your dog’s system by adding a tablespoon of WHITE Vinegar to its food or water per day. stores.  Apple Cider Vinegar is alkaline, so you want to use regular white vinegar.  You can read more about yeast overgrowth at the following links:

  • Blackwatch Feed Program for Systemic Yeast – Fungus Infection
  • Allergies and Systemic Yeast-Fungus Infection

Know however, that some dogs just produce more wax than others and it might have nothing to do with food.

I must warn you all, if your dog isn’t having problems with its ears DO NOT USE ANYTHING IN THEM. If you do you could upset the pH balance and actually cause ear problems. If it’s not broken don’t fix it! Just wipe these ears with a clean/dry cotton ball weekly and count yourselves among the lucky ones.