Garlic Ear Oil (for humans & their pets)

Garlic Ear Oil (for humans & their pets)

I’ve recently been working on an article about herbal remedies for aging dogs – at the request of several readers and also because I too have a dog in his golden years.  While writing, I realized that I haven’t shared a recipe yet for one of my go-to pet (and human) basics: garlic ear oil.

This oil can be used for humans, dogs, cats, horses, goats and other mammals. It can also be used to treat localized mite infestations on birds. (More details below.)

Raw garlic contains an abundance of compounds which:

  • have strong antibacterial and antifungal action,
  • are not tolerated by the mites that sometimes afflict pets.

I learned about these health benefits, and how to make and use garlic ear oil from the following books: Making Plant Medicine, by Richo Cech, and Herbs for Pets, by Gregory L. Tilford and Mary L. Wulff. They are among the most well loved and used books that I own;  if you’re looking to build an herbal library, these are two excellent additions.

Making Plant Medicine by Richo CechHerbs for Pets book

(Book links are affiliate links to Amazon. That means if you click on one and make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission for sending a customer their way. Check with your local bookstore or library for other buying/viewing options.)

One more thing before we start: This is a classic home remedy that can be quite effective for mild ear infections and discomfort. However, if symptoms worsen or you’re concerned in any way, check with a qualified health care professional or veterinarian for further advice.


Bandit inspecting her garlic ear oil

Garlic Ear Oil (for humans & their pets)

  • 3 or 4 fresh garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3/4 cup (190 ml) olive oil
  • 10 to 20 drops vitamin E oil, optional

Normally, it’s a good idea to infuse oils with dried herbs to help prevent spoilage, but in the case of garlic, you want it fresh and raw in order to preserve its potent antibacterial properties.


crushed garlic cloves in a jar

Leaving the skin on the garlic cloves, smash them with a rolling pin or other heavy object.

Place the crushed garlic cloves in an 8 ounce canning jar. Add the vitamin E then cover with olive oil, almost to the top. Vitamin E is added as an antioxidant that can help lengthen the shelf life of oils, but if you don’t have any on hand, it’s okay to leave it out.

Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth, or other breathable fabric – a scrap of old t-shirt will work – and secure in place with a rubber band. Don’t use a regular air tight lid or condensation may build up. Condensation is the bad guy when it comes to infusing oils and often leads to mold and a ruined end product.

garlic ear oil infusing in a sunny spot for three days

Let the garlic and oil sit in a sunny spot for three days. This is one oil you don’t want to speed up by using artificial heat or you risk destroying garlic’s antibiotic compounds.

At the end of three days, strain through several layers of cheesecloth and/or a fine mesh sieve.

Strain garlic oil through cheesecloth to make garlic ear oil

Allow the oil to sit undisturbed overnight to allow particles of garlic and water to settle at the bottom of the jar. Carefully, pour the oil through another layer of dry cheesecloth, leaving any watery layer or sludge in the jar.

Store the finished oil in a cool dark place for 9 months to a year. Refrigeration may help lengthen shelf life, but be sure to warm the oil to body temperature before use.


How to Make A Garlic Ear Oil For Humans & their Pets

Dosage and Use

Garlic oil can be used for humans, dogs, cats, goats, horses and other mammals, and on localized mite infestations on birds.

For ear infection, use one to two drops per ear, one to three times daily – there’s no need to flood the ear with oil. Make sure the oil is around body temperature before using. After application, gently massage the ear area for a short time, if it’s not painful to do so. You may also find it helpful to hold a warmed rice bag or hot water bottle over the ear.

For general maintenance, I lightly clean and inspect my dogs’ ears every few weeks. I use a bit of witch hazel on a cotton ball to clean under the ear flap and add a drop or two of garlic oil after it dries. They love having their ears massaged after this! This is also a good time to examine their ears and make sure everything looks healthy.

For my cat, I only use once every few months as a general preventative against ear mites. He’s a half-wild outdoor rescue kitty who doesn’t like to be held or coddled, so this works best for us. I’m very sparing with the herbal treatments I use on my cat in general, since they are such sensitive creatures.

It can also be applied, twice daily, to areas of the skin afflicted by mites.

*Important: Do not use if the eardrum is perforated. If in doubt, or if symptoms worsen, check with a qualified health care professional or veterinarian for further advice.


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29 Responses to Garlic Ear Oil (for humans & their pets)

  1. Kathy says:

    I use Young Living Essential Oils and they have told us that under no circumstances should we put oil in our ears. Why is that not the case with this garlic oil?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Kathy! You’re exactly right – you shouldn’t put essential oil in your ears, but an infused oil is a much much weaker solution.
      For example – it takes something like 60,000 roses to make one ounce of rose essential oil. But, to make one ounce of a rose infused oil, at home you only need a small handful of petals. So, infused oils can be used more generously and still be safe.
      As Vicki mentions below, many pediatricians (and our vet, for our animals) recommend a little warm olive oil for ear problems. By adding garlic to the mix, you soothe the pain, but also add anti-bacterial properties to help address the underlying problems causing the pain.

  2. Vicki says:

    When my brother and I were children, my brother was prone to terrible earaches. The pediatrician recommended using a few drops of warmed olive oil to alleviate the pain. Maybe it’s essential oils you shouldn’t put in your ears.

    • Jan says:

      Hi Vicki, You’re right! No essential oils in the ears (as far as I know anyway, perhaps a trained aromatherapist may read this and correct me if I’m wrong), but a little warm olive or castor oil is a traditional home remedy for ear ache.

  3. Sylvia says:

    Hi Jan! I love this recipe. I have been having trouble with wax-build up in my ears as of late and some ear aches. I read online about using garlic, but wasn’t sure how. This recipe is super helpful!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Sylvia, I hope that the recipe is helpful for you! I have a nurse relative that let me know too, when my son was small and having the same trouble that some ear types do better with olive oil while others do better with castor oil. So, you might want to experiment with that. Another thing that REALLY helped my son was: Similasan Ear Wax Relief – it’s great stuff!

  4. Sylvia says:

    Hi again Jan! I made the oil. I used a coffee strainer to cover the jar lid instead of a cheese cloth. Do you think that’s okay? Also, I don’t have any vitamin E oil on hand. Could I add a few drops of meadowfoam oil to slow oxidation?

    • Jan says:

      Hi Sylvia! A coffee strainer should work. You just want to keep it not air tight, but also not where a stray bug can fly into it. Meadowfoam should be a good addition instead of Vitamin E!

  5. Meaghan* says:

    When I was younger (like 17 yrs ago!!!) my Mom put Garlic Oil in our ears & I have NEVER had an ear ache since!!! Knocks on wood! And neither have my siblings!! Call it dumb luck but this will work for the onset of an ear infection!!!

  6. Mary Ross says:

    This oil is amazing. I usually spray colonial silver in my ear as well. Sometimes it gets a little goopy but I put a warm rag on it and it helps to melt the oil.

  7. Leah says:

    I know that they say dogs are not supposed to have garlic. Is it still okay to put it on their skin? I’m worried it might hurt them, they have fleas and I have yet to find an organic method that lasts. Thank you!

    • Jan says:

      Hi Leah! I’ve heard conflicting things about garlic. Several of my natural pet care books say it’s okay and even beneficial in moderation. I wasn’t quite sure who to trust, but decided to start using it with my dogs a few years back and they are all doing well. I would double check with your vet though, to see what their opinion is since they are familiar with the health history and such of your pets.

  8. Karina says:

    Thank you for this recipe. When I was a child, my mother baked a couple cloves of garlic and placed them in my ears (after cooling) to treat my ear infection. I’ve never had a problem since.
    Do you have any recommendations for swimmer’s ear?

    • Jan says:

      That’s a great memory & remedy – thanks for sharing! I don’t have any experience with swimmer’s ear, but I’ve heard that a few drops of a tincture (alcohol based) or vinegar helps dry it up. You’ll want to double check that info though, I just remember reading it in one of my herbal books!

  9. Minda says:

    Thanks for this one too Jan! We recently welcomed a Golden Retriever/ Black Lab pup into our home. She is Black, but took after the Golden in looks, and her ears are long and floppy. I suspect we will be having troubles with them since she loves swimming, and they seem to take forever to dry out! I will make this tomorrow for her, and hopefully prevent vet bills down the road! Thanks Again!

  10. Linda says:

    Loved your simple instruction. Will have those drops in my ears, and Mr Puss, pronto!

  11. Becky says:

    Jan my dog has ear infection now will it hurt to start treatment before the 3 days or is there something I can use while waiting?

  12. Linda says:

    Just wondering how long I can keep this after making it? Nobody in my family is in need of it at the moment so if I make it now would this still be good if we needed it six months from now? Thanks!

  13. Lin says:

    I have a rescue pup and there have been some back and forth with it being safe to use willow garlic oil in his ears, he has had a couple infections, (making your oil by the way ). Do you know anything about this? I know willow is a pain reliever and the garlic would fight off the infection in there, just not sure if we should use it or not.

    • Hi Lin! I’ve read conflicting opinions about white willow bark and dogs, so that would definitely be a question for your vet and see what their professional opinion is. I hope your rescue puppy’s ears are feeling better soon!

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  15. Dava says:

    Thank you Jan for your post! Really helpful. Two questions: 1) Can I use the oil on the same day as I put the raw garlic in it? (I just made your recipe and have it on the windowsill, but my dog needs some help NOW!) And 2) Have you heard of using Emu oil for dog’s ear infections? Thanks!

    • Hi Dava! You could try using it the same day since some of the crushed garlic juice will be in the oil, though it will be even more effective after a few days.
      I’ve not heard of emu oil for dog’s ear infections – that’s very interesting!
      I hope that your dog’s ears are feeling a lot better soon! :)

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