Like humans, dogs are also prone to ear infections. Since they will probably suffer in silence, make a point of regularly checking on their ear health.
The good news is, dog ear infections are common and easily treatable.
The bad news is, they cause your pup pain and discomfort.
If your pooch has floppy ears, likes to swim a lot, or has allergies, then you have had to visit the vet a couple of times due to canine ear infections.
Sadly, like toddlers, our dogs have no way of telling us when they’re in pain. Hence, it is your responsibility to be on the lookout for any tell-tale signs that your canine companion could be suffering from an ear infection.
Just like in people, ear infections need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional as soon as you notice the symptoms. In which case, a call to your vet should be the first thing you do before you head out to treat the infection yourself.
The good news is there are simple, preventive natural remedies and tips that can help ease dog ear infections and stop them from developing.
However, to avoid severe consequences such as hearing loss, inner ear infection, or a ruptured eardrum, seek immediate veterinary care.
Dog ear infections need to be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional as soon as you notice the symptoms.
Different Types of Ear Infections
Otitis Externa Infections
These are external ear infections. This means that the inflammation only affects cells lining the outer part of the ear.
In most cases, external ear infections respond to natural remedies recommended by vets and can be easily treated from home.
Otitis Media and Otitis Internal Infections
These are middle and inner infections, respectively. They are more complex and will require help from your veterinarian.
If an external ear infection goes untreated, the infection later spreads to the middle and inner ear canal. They are more advanced and if left untreated, can lead to facial paralysis, deafness, or signs of vestibular disease, like circling, head tilting, and lack of proper coordination.
Your dog’s lifestyle is among some of the causes of dog ear infections. Be careful where you let your dog wander to.
Causes of Dog Ear Infections
Dog food plays a significant role in your mutt’s general health. If your dog is on a kibble diet, this means that he is consuming more refined carbohydrates.
Diets high in carbohydrates contribute to food allergies, yeast infections, and intolerances that eventually cause inflammation in your pooch’s ears.
Also known as Otodectes cynotis is the most common parasite infection that causes dog ear infections. If your dog keeps scratching his ears or shaking his head, it could be ear mites’ infestation.
Mites are very contagious, and so you want to make sure that you treat them before they spread to your other dogs. They often appear like coffee-ground bumps in the dog’s ear or reddish crustiness in the outer ear.
Bacteria commonly cause dog ear infections. Naturally, your canine companion has friendly bacteria in the ears that keep harmful bacteria at bay. However, some external properties can easily alter this balance.
If bacteria from the outside gets into your pooch’s ear, they start to colonize, making it impossible for the friendly bacteria to ease them out. Also, if bacterial already residing in your dog’s ear like Staphylococcus overgrows, it will stress your dog’s immune system leading to an ear infection.
If your dog is an avid swimmer, water may get into his ears, leading to ear infections. Dogs that also like to be in the woods can get seeds, foxtails, and other foreign bodies in their ears that irritate. The lifestyle of your dog, what you expose him to, can cause ear issues.
Dogs with environmental or food allergies are easily susceptible to ear infections. If your dog has any allergies, you need to get to the bottom of his allergies, if you want to resolve repetitive ear infections.
Pups with floppy ears such as Cocker Spaniels are more prone to ear discharge and waxy buildups. Because the ear canal is dark and moist, they quickly encourage the growth of bacteria and yeast.
Dogs with floppy and hairy ears are more prone to dog ear infections.
If your dog is suffering from chronic diseases like autoimmune diseases or hypothyroidism, he is likely to suffer from ear infections that are a bit tricky to get rid of.
In any case, once you notice that your puppy is suffering from chronic ear issues, consider visiting a holistic vet to identify the underlying reason.
Yes! You could be the cause of his ear infections from all the obsessive cleaning of his ears.
Here’s the thing though, healthy ears don’t need cleaning. Hence, avoid over-cleaning your dog’s ears every time they look a little waxy. Waxiness in the ears often resolves itself.
By overdoing the cleaning, you end up causing irritation or aggravating the condition. Leave your dog’s ears alone if he is not showing any symptoms of ear infections.
Dog Breeds Prone to Ear Infections
Any pooch is prone to an ear infection. However, some breeds are more susceptible than others. They include:
- Cocker Spaniels: Have floppy ears and thick hair putting then at a higher risk of dog ear infections
- Pit Bulls: more prone to allergies, hence equally prone to ear and skin infections
- Labrador Retrievers: Retrievers like playing in the water. When water gets into the ears, it makes the internal environment moist, causing bacteria and yeast to thrive, which eventually lead to ear infections.
- Shar-Peis: with their heavy skin folds, their ear canals are narrow meaning that even the smallest debris can easily clog the canal, cause discomfort, and lead to an ear infection.
- Poodles: Poodles have tufted ears making them prone to ear infections. The hair helps keep debris outside; however, if an infection occurs, the hair makes it hard for the material to leave the ear canal.
- Bassets: because of their long ear canals, they are prone to excessive wax build up, which could eventually translate to an ear infection.
- Bulldogs: Because of the folds of their ears, they can have excessive earwax trapped, leading to excessive wax buildup and eventually ear infections.
Bulldogs have fold that make them prone to ear infections as a result of wax buildup.
Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections
To tell if your dog has ear infections, be on the lookout for the following symptoms:
- Loss of balance/head shaking
- Scaly skin
- Scratching and pawing at ears
- Dark, waxy ear discharge
- Head tilting towards the affected ear
- Smelly ears
- Hot Ears
Prevent Dog Ear Infections With These Vet-Approved Tips
First Rule Out Any Underlying Causes
Like most infections, dog ear infections can also be a sign of something else affecting your pooch. Before proceeding to use any natural remedies to ease the infection, you need to first rule out underlying causes like allergies, autoimmune diseases, foreign objects in the ear, hormonal disorders, and tumors.
Only by treating these underlying causes will you be able to prevent ear infections further. For instance, in most dogs, skin allergies cause inflammation, which then leads to irritation.
Like humans, dogs also react to allergens they are exposed to in the environment like grass, mites, pollen, and fleas. Also, make sure your food is not just reacting to the foods you give him. Food allergies and sensitivities could be why his ears are infected. If your dog has food allergies, avoid dairy products, beef, and wheat.
Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean
Even though ears naturally clean themselves, you need to follow a particular cleaning routine to keep his ears clean.
Have your vet recommend a solution you can use in your dog’s ears, then lift his earflap, soak cotton in the solutions, then squeeze the solution in your pup’s ears.
Gently massage the ear base for about 30 seconds, let your mutt shake his head, then use a soft towel or cotton balls to wipe off what’s left. For the ear folds, use cotton-tipped buds to wipe.
However, avoid inserting sharp objects like earbuds inside the ear canal as this could only push the wax further inside, eventually resulting in an infection.
Use homemade cleaning solutions such as vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and rubbing alcohol since they are half water.
If your dog likes to swim, always make sure you dry his ears well enough to avoid encouraging bacteria and yeast in moist environment.
Always Keep Your Dog’s Ears Dry
If your dog enjoys swimming, then it’s your responsibility still to dry out the ears. Moist environments are common catalysts for bacteria and yeast.
Pet parents with Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels should mainly be keen on this because their floppy ears tend to trap moisture.
Whether you bathe your dog regularly or lets him often swim, make a point of making sure that his ears are completely dried to remove any moisture adequately. During bath time, you could place a cotton bottom in the ears to keep water from splashing inside the canal.
After a bath, use a dry cloth or paper towel to dry around the opening of the ear as well as inside the flap.
Only Pluck Ear Hairs When Necessary
Even though plucking your pooch’s ear hair is sometimes beneficial, it is not advisable for every dog. If your pup hasn’t had any infections, or has healthy ears, plucking out the ear hairs is not necessary.
However, if your dog has been experiencing recurrent ear infections, plucking out the hairs will do him some good. Even so, if you are inexperienced to do so, don’t try it doing it at home since you could cause your mutt more pain and further accelerate the ear infections.
If your canine companion requires ear hair plucking, take him to a professional groomer or a vet.
If you are an inexperienced groomer, consider taking your dog to a professional groomer to have his ear hairs plucked.
Add Supplements To Your Dog’s Diet
It is highly advisable to give your dog a nutritious diet with high-quality ingredients. However, you can also add supplements as part of his diet to further prevent dog ear infections.
However, before incorporating supplements as part of your dog’s diet, consult your veterinarian. If your canine companion has allergies that cause ear infections, the omega-3 fatty supplement can reduce inflammation lowering the risk of infections.
Fish oil supplements have Omega-3 fatty acids that help reduce inflammation commonly associated with dog skin allergies.
If your dog has a malfunctioning immune system, he is prone to dog ear infections. If supplements can help maintain his immune system balance, wouldn’t you want to give it a shot?
Probiotic supplements can promote a significant immune response in your dog because it helps to balance his normal bacterial flora in his intestinal tract. A healthy and happy gut could be what your dog needs to improve his immune system.
Natural Remedies That Ease Dog Ear Infections
Once you’ve been to the vet, and your pooch has been diagnosed with an ear infection, there are soothing natural remedies that can help ease his infection. They include:
CBD is a popular natural pain reliever, and this makes it an ideal solution to alleviate dog ear infection. CBD oil for dogs doesn’t contain the psychoactive ingredients found in marijuana, and it is instead derived from the hemp plant.
You can buy it inform of tasty dog treats or get the oil version and mix it in your dog’s food. CBD acts as a pain reliever and also as a natural muscle relaxant, which is ideal if your dog is struggling to rest or suffering from pain as a result of the infection.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar contains acetic acid that naturally helps keep your canine companion’s ears clean. It helps fight bacteria and yeast infections. Soak a cotton ball in a solution of water mixed with apple cider vinegar and gently use it to wipe off any debris from his ear.
However, if your pooch’s ear is already inflamed with soreness or cuts, avoid using this method because it will sting.
Dog ear infections commonly lead to inflammation. Turmeric, being a natural anti-inflammatory will help ease this.
If your dog has been diagnosed with ear infections, help ease his discomfort by making him turmeric dog treats or adding turmeric spice in his food. In conjunction with easing ear infections, turmeric will further boost your dog’s health and also act like a cancer-fighting agent.
Coconut is a natural yeast-fighting agent that can easily be found in your kitchen. Using it to ease your dog infection is as easy as adding a few drops of coconut oil in your pup’s food.
You can also use it to clean his ear if he’s suffering from dog ear infections. All you need to do is melt the oil until it’s lukewarm and then add 2-3 drops of the oil in his ear. Alternatively, dip a cotton ball in the coconut oil and use it to clean your mutt’s ears.
If your dog is suffering from an apparent ear infection, consider using natural remedies to ease the pain.
If you have had an ear infection before, then you know how unpleasant the experience can be. Imagine your pooch having to go through that kind of torture recurrently, pitiful right?
The above natural remedies will help you ease your dog’s pain in the comfort of your own home. Beyond that, make sure that you employ all the preventative measures necessary to keep dog ear infections at bay.
As soon as you notice the afore-mentioned symptoms of dog ear infections in your mutt, visit the vet before you put him on any treatment. Moreover, as soon as it’s confirmed that your dog has an ear infection, proceed to the necessary treatment.