Topical ear medications are often necessary to adequately treat inflammatory or infectious ear conditions. Some dogs will tolerate the administration of liquids or ointments into their ears, while others will not.
Before you begin
It is important to remember that your dog's ear condition may be painful and that even a normally gentle or passive dog may respond by struggling, growling, biting, or scratching. Use caution and patience when treating your dog's ear(s). Until the medication begins to control the problem and ease the discomfort, you may need to muzzle your dog for this procedure. If your dog needs his ears cleaned before ear drops are applied, see handout "Instructions for Ear Cleaning in Dogs".
Read the drug label carefully and make sure you understand the prescription instructions before you begin.
How to apply your dog's ear medication
1. If the medication is refrigerated, you may be able to warm it up by placing the container in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Be sure to ask your veterinarian if this is acceptable before warming any medication. Do not microwave the medication.
2. Draw up the liquid into the dropper or prepare the squeeze bottle as directed and hold it with your dominant hand. Gently pull the flap of the ear up and slightly back using your other hand.
3. Apply the prescribed number of drops into the ear canal, while continuing to hold the ear flap up.
4. Rub the base of the ear against the head in a circular motion. Be cautious and gentle, as your dog may object to this procedure. You should hear a 'squishing' sound as you massage the medication deep into the ear canal.
5. Release the ear and let your dog shake its head. If the medication contains a wax solvent, it will dissolve the debris, which your pet will shake out of the ear. You may gently wipe away any accumulated debris from the ear flap with a tissue or cotton ball.
6. Make sure you give your dog plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a treat during and after giving the medication. This will make the experience more positive and make it easier to give the medication the next time.
"It is important to remember that your dog's ear condition may be painful and that even a normally gentle or passive dog may respond by struggling, growling, biting, or scratching. Use caution and patience when treating your dog's ear(s)."
Tips to help your dog accept ear medication
• Associate the ear medication with good things more often than treatment. For example, show the medication to your dog with the offer of a treat or favorite toy several times per day.
• Choose a quiet area in your home, away from other pets or distractions, where you are least likely to be interrupted. This minimizes the stress your dog may experience during application and will reduce your risk of being scratched and/or bitten.
• Use veterinarian-recommended calming pheromones to relax your dog before administering treatment.
• Massage your dog around the neck and ears regularly so they recognize ear manipulation as good touch.
If your dog is resistant to having ear medication applied, contact your veterinary team for more advice. Your dog may also need some additional pain medication prescribed.