After smell, hearing is the most important sense for animals. Therefore, it’s no surprise that so many pet parents take ear problems seriously.
In fact, this is one of the top reasons owners bring their dogs to the vet. While it’s always a good idea to consult a professional, in some cases, steroids and antibiotics can be too harsh.
Luckily, there are other ways to deal with your dog’s ear infections naturally, and even prevent your pup from coming down with an ear infection in the first place.
In this post, you’ll learn how to treat ear infections in dogs at home. Starting with some of the signs and symptoms to watch out for.
What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs?
Allergic reactions and food sensitivities are common, and probably the main causes of ear infections in dogs.
Signs that your dog might be suffering from allergies or sensitivities include itchy and inflamed skin. This can also affect the skin inside the ear canal, which may expose it to bacterial or yeast infections, especially if your dog scratches it a lot.
Bacteria and yeast 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, yeast, and even fungi thrive in damp and dark environments like the ear canal. The same goes for dogs who shower frequently, or enjoy swimming, as the moisture can also cause yeast.
Ear wax is necessary, as it’s meant to protect the ear canal from things like dust and water.
However, when the ear gets plugged up with too much ear wax, it becomes a feeding ground for bacteria and yeast, and can lead to ear infections.
Ear mites are highly contagious, and can pass between cats and dogs, so it’s very important to deal with them right away.
These parasites live off ear wax, and tend to irritate the skin, which may cause further infections. Mites are also linked to lower immune system function, such as in senior dogs and puppies.
Thyroid problems are also associated with ear infections.
When the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormone, the dog may develop symptoms like 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 some of the typical tell-tale signs and symptoms that you need to watch out for. If you notice one or more of these, you need to get your dog checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Head shaking
- Dark discharge
- Offensive odor
How To Treat Ear Infections In Dogs: 5 Natural At-Home Treatments
1. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is the holy grail of home remedies.
The fatty acids in it are known to have antibacterial and antifungal properties, and it’s a gentle and safe way to clear up ear infections instead of resorting to over-the-counter medicines.
Simply insert two to three drops of melted coconut oil into the ear canal to help soften the excess wax and draw it out, and wipe it away with a towel or ear wipes.
Repeat this process twice a day for a week. You can even do this regularly to prevent future ear infections.
2. Calendula Drops
Calendula is another respectful member of the natural remedy family.
It’s known to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, and it can either 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), all the better.
3. Dietary Changes
Poor nutrition is a common reason for chronic ear infections.
If your dog is consuming wheat, low-quality food fillers like corn and soy, or even dairy, it’s probably time to switch to different dog food without inflammation-causing grains or allergens.
As a general rule, you should always avoid artificial dyes and preservatives to make sure your dog eats real food. This way, it’s less likely to cause him any sensitivities.
Protein intolerances are also worth exploring. If you feed your dog chicken, try switching to a fish recipe, and see if his condition improves.
4. Natural Dog Ear Cleaner
Although I highly suggest seeing a vet first, sometimes, you can treat your dog’s ear infection at home.
Whenever I can, I prefer to avoid things like steroids or antibiotics, and look for a safer option instead. In the case of an ear infection, a natural dog ear cleaner might just work.
But you need to make sure it has one or more of the following ingredients:
- Witch Hazel Extract: This astringent has an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect. It can help break up the wax that may be clogging your dog’s 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. It can help soothe earaches, and even help heal your dog’s ear infection.
After I did a little bit of digging, I found this all-natural product. It contains everything I mentioned above, and helps get rid of any irritation, itching, bad odor, and discharge within 2-3 days.
However, you should probably use it for 7-10 days in order to fully restore your dog’s ears to a healthy condition.
5. Warm Compress
A simple warm compress can go a long way in terms of relieving your dog’s ear infection symptoms.
This method is used to help reduce the pain and swelling caused by the ear infection. Just keep in mind that some dogs will simply refuse to cooperate. In these cases, it’s better to use other options.
Soak either a washcloth or a towel in warm water, and squeeze out the excess liquid. Then, make sure it’s not too hot, and put it on your dog’s ear. Leave it on for a few minutes, or as long as your dog will tolerate it.
How To Prevent Ear Infections In Dogs?
Here are 5 simple steps you can follow to reduce the risk of ear infection in your dog:
- Check and your dog’s ears frequently
- Feed your dog clean, high-quality food
- 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
Be aware that despite everything, some breeds are more prone to ear infections than others. Again, always consult your veterinarian if you’re at all concerned that the treatment isn’t working.