Did you know ear concerns are one of the top five reasons pets and their owners visit their veterinarian?
As a veterinarian, the frustrating part for me is the fact that many of these visits can be avoided, saving you time and money – and pain and trauma for your dog or cat.
Simply by including ear cleaning in your regular at-home pet care, you can help your pet maintain clean, healthy ears. It’s surprisingly easy to do.
I get many questions about what to use and whether products are safe for their pets’ ears – including kitties. While you have many choices in ear cleaning solutions, up until now, I haven’t been able to recommend any that I fully trust for both cats and dogs.
The inner ear is fragile and delicate, so you can’t be too careful as to what you drop into your pet’s ears.
For that reason, I’ve developed an ear wash made with USDA Certified Organic ingredients that’s so gentle, you can use it every day if needed.
Regular use of this blend of natural herbal extracts and oils can help dissolve and remove the debris and wax that can accumulate in your pet’s ears and potentially lead to other more concerning issues.
Best of all, it’s dramatically different from any other ear cleaning product out there.
6 Harsh Chemicals That Don’t Belong in Your Pet’s Ears
A quick look at the top-selling pet ear wash products reveals quite a long list of chemicals – some you can’t even pronounce. It’s no wonder pet parents question safety for use in their pets’ ears.
Here is just a sampling of the chemicals found in best-selling brands of ear cleaners and washes:
- Alcohol (Benzyl Alcohol, SD-Alcohol 40-2, SDA 190 40B) – Alcohol in any form should not be used in your pet’s ears. It can cause burning and irritation, especially if the skin is inflamed. Because alcohol can’t cut through waxy debris, there’s no good reason to use it.
- Nonoxynol-9 – A human spermicide, this chemical surfactant can cause burning, itching, rash and irritation of tissue.
- Benzoic Acid – If combined with vitamin C in the formula, benzoic acid can become carcinogenic. It can also cause eye damage and irritate the skin, nose, throat and lungs if inhaled. Repeated exposure can lead to skin drying, cracking, redness and itching.
- Parachlorometaxylenol – In human studies, some participants reported skin irritation and redness with the use of this antibacterial agent.
- Propylene Glycol – This humectant increases moisture retention and enhances penetration through the skin. If used with a potentially toxic harsh chemical, it can enhance its absorption and lead to irritation. Studies show it can provoke allergic reactions in pets with skin allergies.
- Fragrance – The word ‘fragrance’ can mean ‘hidden chemicals,’ as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows product manufacturers to add nearly any ingredient into their products without naming the chemical(s). Fragrance often contains phthalates which, when absorbed, can have endocrine-disrupting effects.
Even water in a formula can be problematic with some pets, especially those with long, floppy ears. As innocent as it may sound, water (and moisture) can feed an existing yeast or fungal infection in your pet’s ears.
Some products come with a warning not to use longer than seven consecutive days without seeing a veterinarian. Considering that several of the above ingredients can cause skin irritation or worse, that warning isn’t surprising.
I recommend using an ear wash that meets two important criteria: It must be gentle yet effective at cleaning your pet’s ears. And you should be able to use it as often as you need to, without concern of causing irritation or harm.
Why Dogs Often Attract Ear Issues
Ear issues have become near an epidemic in dogs.
One reason is the structure of the canine ear canal. Unlike human ears in which the internal canal is straight and horizontal, your dog’s ear canal is formed like an “L.” Wax-secreting glands line the canal, along with hair that helps moves the wax up and out. However, to reach the outer ear canal, the wax and debris must overcome that tricky 90-degree turn.
While earwax in your dog’s ear is normal, some dogs produce more than others. If your dog is one of several breeds that produce more wax, like Labradors and other water-loving retrievers, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels and Poodles, I recommend regular ear cleanings starting as early as possible.
So what else can cause ear issues in dogs? Several factors can contribute to your dog’s risk, including:
- Moisture – Moisture can lead to “swimmer’s ear” from baths or playing in pools, lakes and other bodies of water. Even living in high humidity areas can contribute to moisture accumulation in the ears, which provides ideal conditions for the growth of bacteria and fungi. It’s important to thoroughly dry your dog’s ears after a bath or exposure to water, rain or snow.
- Long, hanging ears – If your dog is one of the many breeds with long or heavy, hanging ears, he’s at higher risk for ear issues simply due to lack of airflow and the possibility of trapped moisture. Try gently pinning them up at least twice a week to encourage normal airflow.
- Hair in the ear canal – Some dogs have too much hair in the external portion of the ear or within the ear canal, which can block the normal movement and discharge of debris and wax. Ask for your groomer’s or veterinarian’s assistance in removing the hair to avoid damaging the ear canal and to minimize discomfort.
- Impaired immune function – A compromised immune system can impact the healthy balance of the normal bacteria flora living in the ear.
If your dog is one that produces more earwax, that can lay the foundation for potential issues. Your dog’s diet, lifestyle and the level of humidity all contribute to a trifecta, or the perfect combination of ingredients for recurring ear concerns.
What About Cats? Do They Need Ear Cleanings, Too?
Just like with dogs, ear cleaning is an important part of your cat’s overall care. Your cat’s breed and grooming habits will determine how often you need to clean his ears. I suggest checking them at least monthly.
While many cats are excellent at grooming themselves and are less likely to need regular help with their ear care, some are less skilled and may need your assistance.
Other kitties can be prone to dirty ears, and need routine cleanings to help prevent issues from developing. When you notice excessive wax, dirt or other debris, it is time for a cleaning.
In general, dogs are more prone to ear issues than cats. However, of all the cat breeds, Persians require the most ear cleaning assistance to help avoid concerns.
First, become familiar with the anatomy of your cat’s ears, as they are a little different from dogs’ ears. Here are the major parts:
- Outer Ear – Also known as the ear flap, this is the visible part of your cat’s ear and in most breeds, stands upright with a pointed tip.
- Ear Canal – Unlike a dog’s ear, a cat’s ear canal consists of a two inch-long tube that leads to the eardrum. The eardrum, also known as the tympanic membrane, vibrates with sound and is essential to your cat’s hearing.
- Inner Ear – The innermost region of your cat’s ear, beyond the eardrum, is responsible for maintaining balance and equilibrium.
If you notice excessive odor, discharge, swelling or redness in your cat’s ear canal, see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Prompt, professional treatment can reduce the potential for developing chronic problems, hearing loss and unnecessary discomfort.
Take Proactive Steps to Maintain Your Pet’s Healthy Ears
A normal canine or feline ear canal should be clean and a healthy pink color without any adverse odor. Signs of issues include head shaking, scratching and rubbing, as well as redness, discharge and an unpleasant smell.
If you notice redness, swelling, masses, excess odor, sensitivity or pain, or a discharge of blood or pus from your pet’s ears, consult your veterinarian. These can all be signs of an ear infection or inflammation and require immediate attention to avoid serious consequences, like a ruptured eardrum.
So what can you do to help maintain optimal ear health in your pet?
All dogs and cats should have their ears inspected and cleaned, if needed, on a regular basis. Because some breeds are more prone to ear issues, routine cleanings are essential for helping to maintain good ear health.
Diet is especially important for helping to maintain ear health. Feeding your dog or cat a processed diet, such as kibble, containing starchy carbohydrates, preservatives and other unnecessary, processed ingredients can feed the natural yeast in your pet’s body and contribute to a yeast overgrowth in the ears.
That’s why I recommend feeding dogs and cats a fresh, whole food diet – and not a processed diet containing large amounts of starch, including grains, legumes or potatoes.
Because ears are considered a window to your pet’s digestive health, when your dog or cat has ear issues, it can be a sign that her immune system needs help. About 90% of your pet’s immune system resides in her gut.
To support your pet’s immune health, I recommend adding probiotics like our Complete Probiotics for Cats & Dogs and/or one of our immune support formulas – Immune Balance and Organic Mushroom Complex – to your pet’s daily regimen.
Introducing Our Gentle yet Effective Organic Ear Wash
Our USDA Certified Organic Ear Wash contains six natural herbal extracts and oils that soften and assist with the removal of accumulated debris and wax in the ear canal.
The six ingredients include:
- Organic Witch Hazel Extract (Hamamelis virginiana) – With its gentle astringent properties, it naturally helps to dissolve and remove wax and debris. It’s safe and gentle on delicate ear canal tissue and won’t irritate sensitive or tender ears.
- Organic Calendula Flower Oil (Calendula officinalis) – My “go-to” oil for redness and irritated tissue, this botanical is very calming. Together with the other two oils in the formula, it helps soften and remove hardened and crusty, accumulated wax in the ear canal.
- Organic Mullein Leaf Oil (Verbascum thapsus) – Historically used to help maintain ear health, this gentle oil is soothing in the ear canal as it works with Calendula and Niaouli Oils to soften and remove accumulated wax and debris.
- Organic Niaouli Oil (Melaleuca quinquenervia cineolifera) – A safe, effective alternative to tea tree oil, this comforting oil is high in antioxidant properties to support the integrity of the ear canal.
- Organic Aloe Vera Leaf Powder (Aloe barbadensis) – Included as a carrier, aloe is soothing and gentle on ear tissue.
- Organic Chamomile Flower Extract (Matricaria) (Chamomilla recutita) – This calming flower extract promotes an already normal inflammatory response in tissue.
One of the biggest mistakes cat owners make with cleaning their pets’ ears is to use an ear cleaning product intended for dogs. Some ear washes contain tea tree oil, which should never be used with cats.
Our Organic Ear Wash contains no tea tree oil that can be hazardous to kitties.
Because Organic Ear Wash contains no antibiotics or harsh chemicals, it’s non-irritating, non-drying and suitable even for daily use. It’s perfect for maintaining clean and healthy ears.
How to Clean Your Pet’s Ears With Organic Ear Wash
I recommend checking your pet’s ears regularly – for dogs, at least every other day – for wax, moisture, dirt or other debris that has accumulated in the outer ear canal.
By doing regular inspections, you’ll quickly know what is normal for your pet – and what isn’t. You can stay on top of your pet’s ear health simply by checking and taking action as soon as her ears require it.
If your pet’s ears collect a lot of wax every day, they need to be cleaned every day. You can clean them less often if you don’t see a lot of wax or dirt, but I suggest cleaning them whenever the ear canal isn't 100% clean and dry.
To clean healthy ears, here’s how to use Organic Ear Wash:
- Hold your pet’s ear flap to expose and straighten the ear canal.
- Squeeze enough Ear Wash into your pet’s ear to fill the ear canal. To reduce contamination, avoid touching the tip of the applicator to your pet’s ear. Apply solution to your pet’s other ear.
- Gently massage the base of both ears for at least 30 seconds to help work the solution deep into the ear canals.
- Allow your pet to shake her head for a minute or longer. The more head shaking, the better, as it helps dislodge dirt and debris from deep down inside the ear canal and moves it to the outer ear for easy collection.
- Gently wipe away excess fluid and debris from your pet’s ears with as many cotton balls, cotton rounds or gauze as needed to completely clean the ears. Avoid the use of cotton swabs inside the ear canals.
- Reward your pet for a job well done!
If your pet is less–than–cooperative during ear cleaning, try doing one ear at a time. Alternately, you can saturate a cotton ball, round or gauze with Ear Wash solution and gently wipe the outer area and swab out the inside of the ear and ear canal until clean.
To avoid damaging your pet’s eardrums, use only cotton balls, cotton rounds and gauze to clean inside the ear canal.
Because many cats don’t look forward to ear cleanings, I suggest holding your kitty in your lap swaddled in a towel to help avoid his sharp claws. Release your cat after massaging the oil into his ears, but confine him to a small area, like a bathroom, for about five minutes to allow him to shake his head before cleaning up the excess oil and debris.
Don’t Put Off Cleaning Your Pet’s Ears One More Day – Order Organic Ear Wash Today
The few minutes it takes to clean your pet’s ears as often as needed can help make a big difference in your pet’s ear health, especially if yours is a breed prone to ear issues.
That’s why it doesn’t make sense to put it off. Cleaning your pet’s ears is surprisingly simple to do.
And now with our Organic Ear Wash, it’s safe for your pet, too. There’s no exposing your dog or cat to harsh and potentially harmful chemicals that can cause burning, stinging – or worse.
Instead, our gentle, soothing formula is made with USDA Certified Organic ingredients.
Help your pet maintain optimal ear health with regular use of our Organic Ear Wash. It’s proven–effective ingredients help dissolve and remove hardened and accumulated debris and wax that can lay the foundation for other more concerning issues.
Take control of your pet’s healthy ears, and order your supply today.