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3 Simple Home Remedies For Dog Ear Infections

Christin Perry LitteThings writer by Christin Perry
Christin is a mom and editor specializing in lifestyle content. She also hides cookies like a boss.

If you have a dog, chances are you’ll deal with a dog ear infection at some point. Ear infections in dogs can happen very frequently and can be reoccurring.

With that being said, did you know that you can treat and prevent dog ear infections using simple home remedies? There are lots of different treatments for dog ear infections that you can try before loading Fido up for yet another trip to the vet. If you know the facts, it’s easy to take preventative steps and keep your pup healthy.

Read on to learn about the different causes of ear infections in dogs, how a yeast infection in dogs’ ears differs from ear infections, and different ways to treat these infections. You’ll come away having learned a few tried and true tips for keeping your pups happy and healthy.

 

What Is A Dog Ear Infection?

Checking dog's ear
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A dog ear infection occurs when bacteria or fungus enters your dog’s ear and sets up shop, causing inflammation and irritation. As the infection spreads, it can quickly move from your dog’s outer ear (otitis externa) to his middle ear (otitis media) and even to his inner ear (otitis interna).

While outer ear infections in dogs are irritating and annoying, inner ear infections can be downright dangerous for your pup, and can have serious consequences. According to The Spruce an inner ear infection can lead to facial paralysis, head tilt, loss of balance and uncontrollable shifting eye movements. 

But in order to tackle the problem, you’ll need to know what type of ear infection your pup is dealing with.

Types Of Dog Ear Infections

Dog ear
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According to Vetstreet, dog ear infections can be classified into two main categories: acute and chronic infections. Acute ear infections are those every-now-and-then infections that can happen as a result of your pup’s floppy ears or a romp in the mud.

Chronic ear infections, or infections that continuously recur, are more likely to be caused by an overgrowth of yeast (from the bacteria Candida) related to allergies. Yes, this is basically a dog ear yeast infection, and it can often be remedied by switching to a high-quality food or having allergy tests performed. Recurrent infections can also be a sign of a thyroid imbalance, so be sure to have your vet run thyroid tests if your dog is suffering from one ear infection after another.

What Causes Dog Ear Infections?

Dog swimming at the beach
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What Causes Ear Infections?

Caught in a cycle of ear infections that just won’t go away? Let’s look at some of the underlying causes of chronic ear infections in dogs, according to Pet Education. If you can solve some of these issues, you may just be able to say good-bye to the gunk once and for all.

  • Environmental allergies – Dogs who suffer from a particular environmental allergy may be itchy or have hot spots in addition to ear problems.
  • Food allergies – If your pup is allergic to an ingredient in her food, she’s likely to display many of the same symptoms as a dog with environmental allergies; itchy skin, hot spots, and ear problems.
  • Poor food quality – Feeding your dog a low-quality food may not save money after all. These foods often contain sugar and other unhealthy ingredients, which can lead to an overgrowth of yeast in the body — a contributing factor to recurrent ear infections.
  • Floppy ears – Although dogs with floppy ears are more prone to ear infections, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to avoid them. These breeds may require regular ear maintenance in order to keep their ears clean and healthy.
  • Lifestyle – Dogs that swim often (such as duck hunters or those who live on/near a lake) may suffer from frequent ear infections if their ears aren’t given regular maintenance.
  • Parasites – Though they’re more common in puppies than adult dogs, mites can infect a dog’s ears, causing symptoms similar to an ear infection.

How To Tell If A Dog Has An Ear Infection

Dog scratching ear
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If you know what to look for, it’ll probably be pretty easy for you to tell when your pup is suffering from an ear infection. Here are the top dog ear infection symptoms, according to PetMD.

  • Excessive head shaking
  • Excessive ear odor
  • Redness inside the ear
  • Excessive itchiness
  • Pawing at the ear or rubbing head on the ground
  • Build-up of black or dark yellow discharge

Home Remedies For Dog Ear Infections

Rubbing cotton ball in dog's ear
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Only a vet can determine the specifics of your pup’s ear problems, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t help to tackle the symptoms at home. Regardless of what type of ear infection your pup is suffering from, there are some home remedies you can try before seeking professional help. If you’re able to successfully solve the problem, great! If not, at least you can head to the vet knowing that you tried your best. And don’t fall victim to the belief that you need a prescription for an antibiotic every time your pup begins that tell-tale head shaking and ear scratching.

According to The Honest Kitchen, “A conventional veterinary approach to ear problems often involves the prescribing of antibiotics as well as steroids and other medications, which can provide some immediate relief by suppressing the symptoms, but which tends to be only a temporary fix and doesn’t actually offer a true, long-term cure.” This is because antibiotics, when prescribed over and over, can destroy the beneficial bacteria in your dog’s gut, which ironically makes him even more susceptible to ear infections. So read on to learn how to treat your dog’s ear infections naturally.

Apple Cider Vinegar For Dog Ear Infection

Apple cider vinegar for dog ear infection
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Loaded with antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, apple cider vinegar is one of the best home remedies for dog ear infections. Be sure to use unpasteurized vinegar, since the pasteurization process kills the beneficial properties. And if your pup’s ear infection is bad enough to have caused breaks in the skin, be sure to dilute the vinegar so it won’t cause him any additional pain. To use, moisten a cotton ball and rub over the entire surface of the inside of your pup’s ear.

Coconut Oil For Dog Ear Infection

Coconut oil for dog ear infection
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Coconut oil’s antibacterial properties make it a great natural ear infection treatment. A known disinfectant and wound healer, it’s gentle on skin, so you don’t have to worry about causing your pup any further discomfort. Coconut oil can be swabbed onto your dog’s ears with a cotton ball. Or, you can apply several drops of melted coconut oil into your dog’s ear canal using this method from Dogs Naturally.

Essential Oils For Dog Ear Infection

Tea tree oil for dog ear infection
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Surprisingly, there are many essential oils that can be effective at combating ear infections in dogs. Calendula oil has healing properties according to Natural Dog Health Remedies, and tea tree oil is a great bactericide and anti fugal. Additionally, Gentian Violet is bactericide, fungicide, and anthelmintic, which is great for cleaning the ears.”

When To Consult A Vet For Ear Infections

When To Consult A Vet For Ear Infections
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Although home remedies can be effective in treating and preventing dog ear infections, sometimes it becomes necessary to visit a vet. The AKC advises, “it is important to visit your veterinarian as soon as possible, not only for your dog’s comfort (these conditions can be extremely painful) but to also prevent spread to the middle and inner ear.” If you’ve tried some of these home remedies and your pup doesn’t seem to be feeling any relief at all, it’s possible the infection has spread into his inner ear, and the treatment isn’t quite reaching the deepest part of the infected ear.

Similarly, if your pup seems to be in extreme pain, of course you’ll want to get relief for him sooner rather than later. In these cases, an antibiotic can get him the relief he needs, and then a home remedy can be used for regular maintenance to avoid future infections. Lastly, if you believe your dog has a foreign body lodged in his ear, this definitely requires a vet’s attention to remove it properly rather than inadvertently lodging it deeper into the ear.

How To Prevent Dog Ear Infections

Patting dog dry with towel
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Perhaps your pup’s getting over a raging ear infection that required antibiotics and you don’t want him to have to deal with that again. Or maybe your furry friend is one of the lucky ones who’s never had an ear infection. Either way, you can use some of the above home remedies to prevent ear infections in your dog. Regular cleaning with apple cider vinegar is a great way to prevent ear infections. Similarly, regular use of coconut oil in your dog’s ears will clean, disinfect and prevent mites. It’s also important to keep your pups ears dry to prevent infection, according to Pet Wave. Make sure to put cotton balls in her ears while washing, and to make sure they’re dry after playing outside.

Will you try some of these home remedies for your dog’s ear infection? If so, please SHARE this article!