Ear infections are common in many dog breeds. There are many reasons why dogs get ear infections from the buildup of bacteria to allergies to ear mites. And if you’ve ever seen your pup suffer from one, you know that they can be painful.
It’s always best to take your dog to the veterinarian at the first sign of any infection or any type of discomfort. But if you can’t, there are a few methods you can try at home.
Here are some home remedies for dog ear infections that you can try until you can get to your veterinarian.
Why Do Dogs Get Ear Infections?
Dogs get ear infections for a number of reasons.
They can occur from moisture being trapped inside the ear as a result of swimming. They can be caused by hair growth deep in the ear canal. They can occur from something as simple as earwax buildup. You'd be surprised how many common causes there are for canine ear infections.
Dr. Ivan Duong, veterinarian and consultant for PurringPal, shares, “The dog’s ear canals are shaped like an elongated ‘L,’ while dog’s ears afford them a great sense of hearing, it also unfortunately predisposes them to collect moisture and debris due to its shape.”
“The cause of infection is usually by either yeast or bacteria that normally resides in the skin but have opportunistically become overgrown,” Duong continues.
But sometimes (and this is why you should see your vet) they're caused by more serious conditions, such as endocrine or autoimmune disorders can be the underlying cause.
If your dog is showing symptoms of an ear infection, make an appointment with your vet. You cannot diagnose your dog’s ear infection on your own, and if it affects their immune system, you will want to get it checked out as soon as possible.
Plus, you should always be cautious when putting anything in or around the ear unless it’s been recommended by a doctor!
Related: The 9 Best Grain-Free Dog Foods
Do You Know What Type of Ear Infection Your Dog Has?
How you treat an ear infection all depends on what type of ear infection your dog has. Dogs can get infections of the inner ear, the middle ear and the outer ear. A licensed veterinarian is the only person who can tell you with certainty what the type of infection is and can always prescribe ear drops or other ear infection treatments if they need to.
Dr. Duong says, “You may notice your dogs’ ears becoming more inflamed and red with increased discharge that may range from brown to yellow to green, and emitting a strong odour. You may notice behavioural changes as they are shaking their head or scratching their ears constantly.”
A serious ear infection that goes untreated can cause long term damage to their eardrum, cause hearing loss and affect your dog's immune system. There are plenty of ways to treat ear infections, but it is the dog owners responsibility to notice if your pet is having ear problems.
If your dog has an outer ear infection or an infection on their ear flap, that you can see with your own eyes, there are a few home remedies that you can make with household products you may already have on hand.
Putting a few drops of yogurt into the ear may be all your dog needs. Yogurt is full of good bacteria and, when used sparingly on a dog’s ear, it can counteract bad bacteria that may be the cause of the infection.
To try this method, place a few drops of plain, unsweetened yogurt into the ear with a syringe.
Applied with a syringe or a sponge, a green tea mixture can also be helpful in calming the effects of an ear infection in your dog.
Simply add two green tea bags to eight ounces of boiling water and let it cool to room temperature. A few drops in the ear is all your dog will need.
Oil of Oregano
Oil of oregano is a natural antibiotic and can be very helpful in warding off various infections.
To try this method, add one drop of oil of oregano to ½ ounce of pure aloe vera juice. You can add a few drops topically to your dog’s outer ear or you can add a few drops onto his food if he won’t let you touch his ears.
Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract is a proven anti-fungal, anti-viral, natural ingredient. It’s also a natural antioxidant. Like the oil of oregano method, you can apply it either topically to your dog’s ear or apply 3 to 5 drops directly onto his food.
To make this natural remedy ear cleaner, mix 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract with ½ ounce of pure aloe vera juice. You’ll only need to apply a few drops.
Vinegar and Water
If you have apple cider vinegar in your pantry, you can make a quick home remedy that can reduce pain and discomfort for your pup.
To make this mixture, combine one part apple cider vinegar with one part spring water (or filtered water). Add it to a dropper or fill a cotton ball with it, and put a full dropper onto your dog’s ear. Then massage it into the ear gently.
Apple cider vinegar is often used as an antiseptic. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties that make it helpful for a variety of infections.
Molly Farrell, owner of Dyer Animal Clinic, adds, “the acidity of the vinegar helps destroy the yeast in the ear. Do not force the cotton ball into the ear canal because you can rupture the eardrum.”
Oil of Mullein
Most people don’t have oil of mullein lying around the home, but if you do, it can help reduce pain and minimize swelling in a dog’s ear. It can even kill viruses.
To make this home remedy, combine 5 or 6 drops of oil of mullein with oil of garlic. Apply topically, you can use a cotton ball to the ear two or three times a day for several days in a row to see results.
Prevent Ear Infections Before They Happen
If your pup is prone to ear infections and you know how to recognize the signs, it’s time to start taking some steps to prevent them.
Dry your dogs’ ears thoroughly after bathing or swimming. Ask your vet for ear cleaning solution recommendations that you can do routinely at home. Change your dog’s diet to reduce allergies and inflammatory conditions that can cause infections or other health issues in the first place.
Ear infections are more common on dogs with floppy ears like spaniels, hounds, etc.
Remember, preventing an infection before it happens is always easier than treating one!
Can You Treat a Dog’s Ear Infection at Home?
No one wants to watch their dog suffer in pain or discomfort. And since ear infections are so common in dogs, it's best to ask your vet for information on all of the preventative measures you can take.
In the meantime, there are some safe home remedies and natural treatments that you can try that can help reduce swelling, relieve pain and minimize discomfort.
But, if your dog ever looks like they are in pain or your natural remedy is not helping seek veterinary care.
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