How to Administer Ear Drops to a Dog With an Ear Infection

Antibiotic ear drops are among the most common treatment for a dog’s ear infection, whether it’s a bacterial infection or a fungal infection such as yeast. Unfortunately, many pet owners don’t administer ear drops properly and this can result in an ear infection that doesn’t completely resolve once the round of medication is completed.

How to Give Ear Drops to Your Dog

Begin the process by cleaning your pet’s ears. This can be a painful process if the dog’s ear canal is raw, red and swollen and the dog may be somewhat resistant. Therefore, it’s important to be gentle and if necessary, muzzle your dog to prevent nipping. (Even the most docile, loving dog can lash out when he or she is in pain!)

Use Q-tips and cotton pads to clean the ear flap and the nooks and crannies at the entrance of the dog’s ear canal. Cleaning the ears is important for two reasons. Firstly, discharge can irritate the dog’s ear further, particularly in the case of a yeast infection (the discharge from a yeast infection can be extremely itchy and it may be spread to the dog’s face if he paws or scratches the ear.) Secondly, the medication will be less effective if it gets caught up in the wax and discharge. In order to work effectively, the antibiotics need to be in direct contact with the ear structures and the walls of the ear canal.

Next, retrieve the dog’s ear drops and shake thoroughly. Shaking is important, as the medication often settles at the bottom of the bottle.

Then, measure out the appropriate amount of medication in the dropper and place the bottle in a safe location (somewhere where you won’t knock it over if the dog flinches or struggles.)

Place the tip of the dropper at the opening of the dog’s ear canal and squeeze the medication into his ear. Immediately after inserting the ear drops, gently massage the dog’s ear from the side of his head and keep his head stabilized for approximately 15 to 20 seconds. The dog’s natural reaction will be to shake his head, but this will send the medication flying! So it’s important to hold the dog’s head to prevent head shaking until the medication flows into the inner ear.

Repeat the process with the other ear. If you’re treating a yeast infection, you may need to apply the anti-fungal medication to other affected areas like the ear flap and even the dog’s paws or face (e.g. the yeast infection often spreads to the dog’s paws or cheeks via the discharge. This can occur when the dog paws his face or while scratching from the ear toward the cheek.)

After giving the medication to your dog, offer lots of praise and a treat! It can be an uncomfortable, frightening process for the dog, so it’s important to neutralize the experience by offering lots of positive attention and a treat.

Other Tips for Treating a Dog’s Ear Infection

Be sure to read the label on your pet’s antibiotic ear drops, as many medications must be stored in the refrigerator. If you accidentally store them at room temperature, the antibiotic will not work properly. If this occurs, contact your veterinarian and request a replacement.

Also, ensure you’re administering the medication at the proper intervals. Most ear drops must be administered twice a day (every 12 hours) or three times per day (every 8 hours.)

In addition, it’s important to recognize situations where an alternative medication is required. If your dog is resistant to ear cleanings and/or struggles while receiving the ear drops, and you’re ineffective in administering the proper dose, contact your veterinarian and request oral antibiotics instead. Ear drops are generally preferred, but oral antibiotics are also effective and they’re a good option for a dog who adamantly resists ear drops.

Contact your vet if your dog’s symptoms do not improve within 72 hours, or if they’re getting worse after 48 hours.

Photo Source: Andrzej Pobiedziński at

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Mia Carter is a professional journalist and animal lover. Her furry family members include 6 dogs and 12 cats. She is also a feral cat colony caretaker. Carter specializes in pet training and special needs pet care. All of her animals have special needs such as paralysis, blindness, deafness and FIV, just to name a few. She also serves as a pet foster parent and she actively rehabilitates and rescues local strays and feral kittens.

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