Without a doubt, hearing is one of the most important senses for a dog.
But did you know?
Ear problems are one of the top reasons why pet parents bring their dogs to the veterinarian.
And while you should always consult your vet, steroids or antibiotics can be too harsh for your dog, or maybe they never worked on him.
Luckily, there are natural and safe ways to deal with a dog ear infection while also maintaining a good ear hygiene.
In this post, I’ll teach you how to treat ear infections in dogs at home. I’ll also talk about preventing ear infections in dogs and ear infection signs.
Dog Ear Infections: Causes And Symptoms
What Are The Common Causes Of Dog Ear Infections?
Allergies and food sensitivities are quite common and probably the main causes of ear infections in dogs.
Some allergy signs include itchy and inflamed skin, which can also affect the skin inside the ear canal and may expose it to bacterial or yeast infections, especially if your dog scratches his ears a lot.
Related: How To Stop Itching In Dogs?
Bacteria and yeasts tend to appear as a secondary infection and cause additional inflammation and excessive build-up of ear wax.
Droopy-eared dogs are usually at a higher risk of developing ear infections since bacteria, yeasts, and even fungi thrive in a damp and dark environment like the ear canal. Same goes for dogs who shower frequently or enjoy swimming.
Normally, earwax should protect the ear canal from things such as dust and water.
However, when the ear gets plugged up with earwax, it soon becomes a feeding ground for bacteria and yeast and may lead to ear infections.
Ear mites are highly contagious and can pass between cats and dogs, so it’s important to deal with them right away.
These parasites live off ear wax and tend to irritate the skin which can lead to further infections. Mites are also linked to lower immune system function, such as in very old and very young dogs.
Thyroid problems are also associated with ear infections.
When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormone, the dog may develop symptoms such as hair loss, and inflamed skin due to secondary bacterial or fungal infections. Unfortunately, The ears can also be affected.
How Do You Know If Your Dog Has An Ear Infection?
Here are a few typical tell-tale signs that you need to watch out for:
- Head shaking
- Dark discharge
- Smelly ear
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, then you need to get your dog checked by a veterinarian and treat the infection as soon as possible.
How To Treat Ear Infections In Dogs At Home? 5 Natural Treatments
Coconut Oil is the king of home remedies, even when it comes to ear infections.
The fatty acids in this oil are known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and it’s a gentle and safe way to clear up ear infections instead of taking antibiotics or other over-the-counter medicines.
Simply insert two to three drops of melted coconut oil (or even olive oil) into the ear canal to help soften the excess wax and drew it out so you can wipe it with a towel or ear wipes.
Repeat this routine twice a day for a week. You can even use Coconut oil in the same way to prevent future infections.
Calendula is another member of the natural remedies family.
This flower is known to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties, and it can be taken internally to treat yeast growth or applied topically to heal fungal infections in the ears.
If you can find a product that also contains natural extracts of Garlic (a natural antibiotic) or Mullein (anti-inflammatory), the better.
Poor nutrition may lead to chronic ear infections.
If your pooch is consuming grains (for example, wheat) or low-quality fillers such as corn and soy, and even dairy, this may be the time to switch to a different dog food that doesn’t contain grains or allergens that tend to cause inflammation.
As a general rule, you should also avoid meat by-products and artificial dyes, or preservatives to make sure your dog eats natural food that’s less likely to cause him any sensitivities and decrease his immune system.
Protein intolerance is also fairly common, so if you feed your dog chicken, try switching to a turkey or fish recipe and see if your dog’s condition is getting better.
Natural Dog Ear Cleaner
Although I highly suggest seeing a professional first, in some cases, you can treat dog ear infection at home.
I usually prefer to avoid steroids or antibiotics, primarily because I have a sensitive dog, and I always look for a safer option. In the case of ear infection, which tends to itch and smell, a natural dog ear cleaner might just work, but make sure it contains:
- Witch Hazel Extract: This astringent has an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect, and it can also break up the wax that may be clogging your dog’s the ear canal.
- Boric Acid: This acid has antiseptic properties and it’s often used to treat inflammation in the ear canal, also known as otitis externa. Acids also make your dog’s ear a less ideal place for bacteria and yeast growth.
- Tea Tree Oil: This essential oil is a strong anti-fungal and anti-bacterial agent which can disinfect fungus infections and eliminate the bacteria in your dog’s ear.
- Mullein Leaf Extract: This medicinal herb is anti-bacterial, as well as anti-inflammatory, and it can help soothe earaches and even help heal your dog’s ear infection.
I recently found this product, which includes all of these important ingredients and helps get rid of any irritation, itching, bad odor, and discharge within 2-3 days (you can read reviews about it here).
You should use this cleaner for about 7-10 days in order to fully restore your dog’s ears to a healthy condition.
A simple warm compress can go a long way in terms of relieving ear infection symptoms.
This method is used to reduce ear pain and swelling caused by the infection, but for some dogs will refuse to cooperate and for them, it’s better to look for other options.
You can soak either a washcloth or a towel in hot water and squeeze out the excess liquid before you put it on your dog’s ear, just make sure it’s not too hot.
How To Prevent Ear Infections In Dogs?
Here are a few simple steps you should follow to reduce the risk of ear infection in your dog:
- Check and your dog’s ears frequently
- Use a natural dog ear cleaner on a regular basis
- Dry your dog’s ears after bathing or swimming
- Remove any excess hair from your dog’s ears
- Feed your dog high-quality, grain-free dog food
Be aware that despite everything, some breeds are more prone to ear infections than others.