By Dr. Andrew Jones
If your dog has been shaking his head and scratching at his ears, then he likely has an ear infection. Ear infections in dogs are very common but often very frustrating; they can quickly and often do re-occur leaving you wondering if you can ever get rid of them. This article will go over the most common causes of ear infections, and give you the most effective at home remedies to finally stop your dog’s ear infection.
Most pet owners can easily tell if their dog has an ear infection by looking into and their dog’s ear. A normal ear is light pink, not tender and easy to examine. In dog ear infections you will see a foul-smelling black, yellow or brown discharge. The ears may be very red and tender.
Most ear infections are caused by an underlying allergy. Some are caused by water in the ear after bathing or swimming. Dogs with large floppy ears, such as Basset Hounds, are prone to infections as their ear canals have poor air circulation, trapping moisture and allowing bacteria and yeast to grow.
Dogs with ear infections caused by yeast usually have a black discharge; this is commonly second to an allergy. Dogs with bacterial ear infections often have an organism called Staphylococcus; in rare cases a more serious infection is caused by a bacteria called Pseudomonas.
White vinegar (acetic acid) is very effective at removing debris from the ears and killing the yeast and bacteria responsible for ear infections. The vinegar is anti-fungal, so in many cases it alone can resolve your dog’s ear infection. If your dog has red, open wounds, do not use this as it will be painful. You need to use a soothing topical first (i.e. olive oil and Vitamin E). Dilute the vinegar with water 50:50, pick up a syringe from your local pharmacy and put 5 ml of the vinegar solution per 20 lbs of body weight into the affected ear. (Your cat would get 2.5 ml or 1/2 a tsp). Grab the ear where it attaches to the head (at the ear base), gently squeeze your thumb and forefinger together, rubbing the solution deep into the ear canals. Wipe the inside of the ear well with cotton balls to remove debris coming from the ear canal. Continue to do this daily for 5-7 days. For dogs with recurring infections, this can be done weekly.
Healing oils are especially helpful if your dog’s ears are inflamed and difficult to touch. You can use a mixture of 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil combined with 1 capsule of Vitamin E and crushed garlic. Insert that into your pets ear. Let it soak for 5 minutes, then rub the base of the ear well and wipe out excess debris with a cotton ball. The garlic is anti-fungal, so often helps with recurring ear infections.
For dogs that get recurring ear infections it is important to try a less allergenic diet. It should include a completely different protein with minimal added ingredients. One example commercial diet is made of fish and sweet potato.
Essential Fatty Acids are a must for any allergy that triggers recurring ear infections. The therapeutic dog dose is 1000 mg per 10lbs of body weight daily. An inexpensive option is to use flax oil, the dose being 1 tablespoon per 50lbs of body weight daily.
A common remedy most pet owners have around their home are antihistamines. Benadryl is the most commonly used antihistamine. It is given at a dose of 1 mg per pound of body weight, 2-3 times a day. It is best to consult your veterinarian before using these medications. It often takes 14 days of using these to see if they are helping.
Most ear infections produce red, inflamed ears, so it is important to decrease the inflammation. Aloe and Calendula can be applied topically in the ears twice daily to decrease inflammation. These have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, and in many cases successfully resolve the ear infection.
You should now better understand what causes dog ear infection, and be able to recognize this in your own dog. You can now clean your dog’s ear at home, using natural remedies to treat yeast and bacteria. Lastly you should now implement a few of these at home solutions to prevent your dog’s ear infection from recurring.
Dr Andrew Jones, DVM
P.S. My supplement, Dr Jones’ Ultimate Canine Health Formula contains high levels of essential fatty acids, probiotics, and antioxidants which can help with recurring ear infections. You can get a 50% OFF trial by going to: Ultimate Canine Health Formula
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