Safer Alternatives to Hydrogen Peroxide for Your Dog's Ear
Hydrogen peroxide can harm your dog's ears, causing irritation, dryness, or damage. Learn about some natural and gentle remedies that can clean, soothe, and heal your dog’s ears.
Did you know using hydrogen peroxide to clean your dog's ears can do more harm than good? It is common for dogs to experience ear infections, but they can make our pets miserable and lead to severe problems like hearing loss or eardrum rupture. Perhaps you've heard hydrogen peroxide is an effective home remedy for dog ear infections. But is it safe? Continue reading to learn how hydrogen peroxide can irritate the skin, dry out the ears, or aggravate inflammation. I'll offer safer alternatives to keep your dog's ears happy and healthy.
What Is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Hydrogen peroxide is a clear liquid commonly used in medicine, cosmetics, and cleaning. It comprises two hydrogen and two oxygen atoms, releasing oxygen when interacting with organic substances.
Its Uses and Effects
Hydrogen peroxide is often recommended to disinfect wounds and prevent infection, thanks to its antiseptic qualities. That's why many people use it to clean their dogs' ears. But it's also an oxidizing agent, meaning it can bleach hair and teeth or remove fabric stains. It's a potent substance that should be handled with care!
How to Find and Use It Safely
Hydrogen peroxide can be found in different concentrations, ranging from 3% to 35%. The most common concentration in drugstores or supermarkets is 3%, which is safe for external use on humans and animals. Higher concentrations are used for industrial or professional purposes and can be very dangerous if ingested or applied to the skin.
Pros and Cons of Hydrogen Peroxide in Your Dog's Ear
While hydrogen peroxide can remove dirt and debris from the ear canal, experts say it can negatively affect your dog's ear health.
That's because it kills bacteria in the dog's ear (regardless of whether it’s good or bad). As it bubbles, oxygen is released, leaving water behind. This reaction can irritate, dry out, or damage the ears. Also, it might not be adequate to treat infections.
- Cheap and easy to find
- Removes wax and foreign objects from the ear
- Kills some bacteria and fungi that cause ear infections
- Reduces inflammation and pain in the ear
- Irritates the ear skin and mucous membranes
- Dries out the ear and makes it more prone to cracking and bleeding
- Damages the ear's healthy cells and tissues
- Causes more inflammation and infection in the ear
- Harms the inner ear and affects your dog's hearing and balance
- Interacts with other medications or substances in the ear
Safer Alternatives to Hydrogen Peroxide for Your Dog’s Ear
Consider the following safer alternatives to clean your dog’s ears, avoiding hydrogen peroxide:
1. Veterinarian-Recommended Ear Cleaners
Dog ear cleaning solutions contain added medications that help to reduce inflammation and infection in the ears. They are easy to apply and gentle on the ears. You can ask your vet for a recommendation or buy them online or in pet stores. Some examples are:
- Vet's Best Ear Relief Wash
- Zymox Otic Enzymatic Solution
- Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner
My vet recommended Vet's Best Ear Relief Wash for my dog's mild ear infection. It worked wonders for him. After a few days of treatment, he stopped scratching his ears, and then his ears looked much cleaner and healthier. I highly recommend this product if your dog has a similar condition.
2. Aloe Vera
Unlike hydrogen peroxide, aloe vera is a soothing and healing agent that naturally reduces inflammation and pain. It's easy to find in stores in 100% gel. When my pup had a sunburn on his nose, I used aloe vera gel to soothe it. I also used some in his ears, and he enjoyed the cooling sensation of it.
Drugs.com explain how to safely use aloe vera in your dog's ear:
- Fill the ear canal with the solution.
- Rub the ear base gently.
- Let your pet shake their head.
- Wipe away the excess with a cotton ball.
- For very dirty ears, repeat 2-3 times a day for several days.
- For healthy ears, repeat 1-2 times a week or as your vet advises.
- Don't use it if your dog is allergic to aloe vera or has a severe ear infection.
- Please keep it away from your pet's eyes or mouth.
3. Coconut Oil
Besides being a tasty cooking ingredient, coconut oil is a natural moisturizer and anti-inflammatory. It soothes and heals irritated skin, possessing antibacterial and antifungal properties to combat infections.
Instead of cleaning your dog's ear with hydrogen peroxide, melt some coconut oil and gently apply it to their inner ear. You may use either a cotton ball or a clean dropper to do this. However, a few words of caution:
- Don't use coconut oil if your dog is allergic to coconut or has a severe ear infection.
- Avoid contact with eyes and mouth.
- Ensure the oil is not too hot to burn your dog's delicate skin. Melting it in the microwave for 10-15 seconds is usually sufficient.
I use coconut oil regularly for my dogs; it reduces dry and itchy skin. When applying it to their ears, they seem less irritated and red. Coconut oil is one of my favorite natural remedies for my dog's skin and ears. Dr. Thompson at NPHQ Veterinarian agrees.
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
ACV can balance the pH level of the ear and stop bacterial growth because it is a natural antiseptic and antifungal. So, for many dogs, a diluted apple cider vinegar solution can keep their ears clean and fresh. However,
- It isn't recommended if the ear is inflamed, bleeding, or has open wounds (it can sting and worsen the condition).
- You must be careful not to get it in your dog's eyes or mouth.
Blue & White Veterinary Clinic say you can safely use a diluted apple cider vinegar solution to clean your dog's ears using a cotton ball or dropper. You want a 50/50 ratio of ACV and water. You don't want it more concentrated or the vinegar may sting if the skin is broken or inflamed. If you try this remedy on your pet, please dilute it properly and test it on a small area first.
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Final Thoughts and Summary
Although hydrogen peroxide might seem like a safe ear-cleaning option for your dog, many health risks are involved. It might damage, irritate, dry out, or hurt their ears. Use these safer alternatives to alleviate your pup's discomfort. These natural and gentle methods will help clean, soothe, and heal their ears. Make an appointment at your vet's clinic immediately if your dog has an ear infection. Your pet's ears deserve the best care possible!
Sources and Further Reading
- Can You Put Peroxide in a Dog's Ear? | BetterVet
Wondering if you can clean your dogs ears with peroxide? Take a look at hydrogen peroxide & other popular methods of ear cleaning for dogs in this blog.
- 5 Simple Steps to Remove Water From a Dog’s Ear
To get water out of a dog's ear after bathing or swimming, do not use harmful remedies like hydrogen peroxide! Instead, follow these five safe and easy steps.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2023 Louise Fiolek