Abstract The efficacy and tolerability of a marbofloxacin-clotrimazole-dexamethasone otic suspension (MCD) was compared with a standard topical treatment using a phase III clinical trial protocol. In a total of 140 dogs with clinical signs of acute or subacute otitis externa, Staphylococcus, Pseudomonas, Enterobacteriaceae and Malassezia were isolated from samples taken at inclusion to identify the causative pathogen; a further sample was collected in the event of failure or relapse, and from dogs (at day 14) for which Pseudomonas species had been isolated at inclusion. One group received MCD (10 drops per affected ear) once daily and a second received Surolan® (containing polymyxin B, miconazole and prednisolone) (5 drops per affected ear), twice daily. Each group received treatment for 7 or 14 days according to the clinical outcome on day 7. Efficacy and tolerability were evaluated on days 7, 14 and, if necessary, 28 for dogs treated for 14 days. The trial demonstrated equivalence of both treatments in terms of efficacy, with a cure rate of 58.3% for MCD and 41.2% for Surolan®. Both medications were equally well tolerated by dogs, but MCD was superior in terms of pain relief, decrease in pus quantity and smell, response rate and investigator's assessment on day 14.