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Dog Ear Infection – Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Home Remedies

Dog Ear Infections

Do you hear about Dog ear infection? Imagine having an ear infection. A clutter of fungus stuck in your ear canal that is causing your hearing loss plus making you feel icky due to the soggy, pungent smell that’s coming out of it.

It’s even worse for dogs. They can’t speak and heavily rely on their senses – of which ears play a very important part. When suffering from an ear infection they experience itchiness and swelling causing pain and in severe cases loss of hearing if left untreated.

As dogs can’t own up to their problems it’s up to us as responsible pet parents keep a check at our precious pugs and get them diagnosed and treated swiftly to avoid further suffering.


Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms

There are numerous signs and symptoms that show when dogs are suffering from ear infections. Most of these signs have a visible impact on the dog’s natural behavior. You might notice some of them right away.

Here’s what you should look out for:

  • Head tilting/trembling
  • Itchiness
  • Loss of hair around the ears
  • Odor in the ears: yellow, brown, or bloody discharge from the ears
  • Pain when opening mouth or reluctance to chew
  • Scabs or crusting on the inside of the outer ear
  • Hearing loss
  • Loss of balance/appearance of dizziness
  • Redness or swollen appearance around the ear canal
  • Excessive rubbing, pawing or scratching of the ear or surrounding  areas; rubbing ears against the floor or furniture
  • Strange eye movements
  • Walking in circles
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Unsteady or uncoordinated body movements; swinging of the head

If you notice that your dog has any of the following signs or symptoms, it is vital you get their ears checked by a veterinarian so you can seek the appropriate treatment method.

Also Read: The Best Foods for Diabetic Dogs


Types and Causes of Ear Infections

Types and Causes of Ear Infections

Dogs have an upright ear canal which makes them vulnerable to the accumulation of dirt, wax, trauma, foreign bodies, mites and so on. This can cause a lot of abnormalities such as allergies, redness, swelling and a lot of other infections. It is important to be aware of the different types of ear infections and how they occur in dogs so that they can be treated immediately when identified.

1. Otitis Externa: Infection in the Outer Ear 

Otitis Externa -Infection in the Outer Ear

AnOtitis is a common term that is used for the infection or swelling of the ear. Otitis Externa is basically the inflammation that occurs at the outer ear or outer part of the ear canal of a dog. Due to the vertical structure of a dog’s ear, any dog that swims or gets bathed frequently is susceptible to an ear infection. This type of infection is often instigated by water getting trapped in the ear canal.

This damp setting becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast which can cause pain and distress. If left untreated, this infection can also spread to the nerves and bones.

Otitis Externa is the easiest infection to treat. Typical signs of an outward ear infection include pus from the ear, often dark in color, and a bad stench.

2. Otitis Media: Infection in the Middle Ear

 Otitis Media -Infection in the Middle Ear

 Otitis media, which is inflammation in a dog’s middle ear is a rare type of infection. Although the symptoms of infection in a dog’s outer, middle, inner ear is pretty much the same, the pain gets as worse as the depth of the infection increases.

As the infection transitions from the outer to the middle ear, facial paralysis may arise owing to the tenderness of the facial nerve that runs parallel to the middle ear. It causes pain in dogs when they try opening their mouth or try to swallow. Drooping facial muscles and drooping eyelids are also hints of facial paralysis.

Typical signs of Otitis Media are downward head tilts, loss of balance and circling. Usually, the dog will turn over and remain lying flat since standing up is too painful for them.

3. Otitis Interna: Infection in the Inner Ear 

Otitis Interna- Infection in the Inner Ear

Otitis interna (also known as labyrinthitis), is possibly the most dangerous of these basic infections, as it occurs at the inner core of the ear, which connects to the brain and contains nerves for balance and hearing.

One of the major causes of Otitis Interna is the overdose of antibiotics. Aminoglycoside and neomycin antibiotics can cause the infection when used for lengthy periods of time, sometimes resulting in deafness.

Unless it’s clear that your dog’s ears are perfectly fine, try not to use any medications because once these drugs come into contact with the sensitive structures of the inner ear, there could be disturbing consequences.

Idiopathic Vestibular Syndrome is another cause of Otitis Interna which affects middle-aged and senior dogs.  It is a disturbance of the vestibular system in dogs with an unidentified cause.

IVS can occur suddenly and the symptoms of it can be devastating. The dizziness and vomiting are severe and acute and your dog can be hospitalized for days. This disorder may end in a permanent tilt of the head.

Some other causes could of labyrinthitis include head trauma, brain tumor, poisoning, or drug ingestion.

Typical symptoms include Ear pain, head tilt (down, on the affected side), dizziness, Nystagmus (rapid movements of eyeballs in a horizontal or rotating motion), vomiting, diminished hearing and so on.

If your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms, take it to the veterinarian to establish a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

4. Others: Infection Due to Ear Mites and Food Allergies

 Others-Infection Due to Ear Mites and Food Allergies

Ear mites feed on your dog’s ear wax and oil secretions. It occurs due to the lack of cleanliness in the ear and ear canals, which in turn causes infection, releasing a brown discharge.

Sometimes, it can spread through other animals such as a cat, rabbit, or another dog. This is the most common way for a dog to become septic with, ear mites.

If your dog repeatedly suffers from chronic ear infections, this is probably an issue with his immune system.

Firstly, it can cause from a poor diet which includes foods that are highly processed and preserved, sugary and genetically modified. Try offering your dogs healthier alternatives like baby carrots, cooked chicken, and other homemade foods.

Also Read : How to Take Care of Senior Dogs

Secondly, excessive use of drugs, toxins, and over-vaccination can wreak havoc on the immune system and can cause a number of autoimmune diseases like allergies. All of this can lead to a leaky gut which makes dogs further vulnerable to infections.

Treating dog ear infections

Dog Ear Infection

Usually, before treating your dog’s ear infections, make sure to clean their ears first. Either professional cleaning or at home or both. Generally, veterinarians recommend topical and/or oral medications.  Tools for cleaning your dog’s ears are easily found around the house.  All you need are:

  • Water: Warm/ Lukewarm
  • Cotton Balls
  • Cotton Pads

Here are a few ear cleaning tips:

  1. Do not use cotton-buds or Q-tips as they may shove the dirt deeper into the core of the ear, making things worse.
  2. Make sure that the prescribed ear drops are lukewarm and not two ends of the spectrum as it can cause serious discomfort for your dogs.
  3. Don’t use rubbing alcohol or any acidic solution that can irritate swollen skin without consulting your vet.
  4. Insert a cleaning solution into the ear canal and use cotton balls to swipe and dry your dog’s ears. Mildly massage the base of your dog’s ears and then direct it to wobble its head. This will let the medication to go deeper into the ear canals.


Home Remedies for dog ear infection

The following home remedies have been known to be extremely effective to treat dog ear infections for the longest time. Do consult your veterinarian before using any of these treatment methods.

1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

Apple Cider Vinegar for dog ear

Although Apple Cider Vinegar is quite acidic in nature, it is safe to be used on the skin due to its antiseptic properties. It is mostly used to treat yeast infection and not for red, swollen sores.

The minute you notice your dog’s ears being prone to fungal infection, immediately use some diluted apple cider vinegar to clean it.

Do not use concentrated apple cider vinegar in your dog’s ear since it might lead to adversities due to sensitivity issues. Never use the pasteurized form either as it may no longer contain the healing properties.

For a dilute mixture take both water and ACV in 1:1 ratio.  Take it in a cotton swab to clean the dirt in your dog’s ear, then put eight to ten drops in his inner ear canal and lightly massage it in a round motion. If irritation occurs, use a bit of coconut oil and repeat frequently until cured.

2. Calendula Ear Drops

Calendula Ear Drops

Calendula has startling remedial abilities due to its herbal and anti-fungal properties. It is great to treat both external and internal ear problems.

There are two ways you can make Calendula Ear drops:

  1. You can mix one Calendula essence with ½ teaspoon of sea salt and 1 cup of warm distilled water.
  2. Add some calendula flowers in a glass jar, sprinkle it with some olive oil and some freshly grated garlic. Cover it well and let the mixture sit for 3-4 days. Strain it and apply the warm drops with a syringe or as dropper inside your dog’s ears.

3. Coconut Oil Drops

Coconut Oil Drops

Coconut oil’s antibacterial and healing properties have been known to mankind since the beginning of time. It is renowned as a decontaminator and a wound-healer – very gentle on skin, with almost zero side effects. Melted Coconut oil blanched with some garlic is great for dog’s ears. You can use a dropper or dip a cotton ball/pad in the mix and use it to clean your dog’s ear.

Use it two to three times a day, until the infection goes away.

4. Garlic Oil Drops

Garlic Oil Drops

Garlic is a potent antibacterial agent that has great healing properties to treat a dog’s ear infection. It contains Allicin which comes out once the garlic has been macerated. It is the main disinfectant.

Add some thinly sliced garlic cloves in a glass jar and sprinkle it with some olive oil. Cover it well with a cheesecloth and let the mixture sit for 10-14 days in a warm place. Strain it and apply the warm drops with a syringe or dropper inside your dog’s ears. Rub very gently for about 10 seconds in each ear. Do this at least twice a day, until the infestation is gone.

Garlic oil can be used to keep ears clear of bacterial and fungal infections, eradicate ear mite infestations, and treat inner ear swelling discharge.

5. Garlic and Mullein Oil Drops

Garlic and Mullein Oil Drops

Mullein plant that has antiseptic properties and it works wonders for bacterial ear infections. Mullein extract mixed with garlic is also an excellent recipe in treating dog ear infections.

Add some mullein leaves and flowers in a glass jar and slather some olive oil. Cover it well and let the mixture sit for 2-3 weeks. Strain it and mix it with equal parts of garlic oil apply the warm drops with a syringe or as dropper inside your dog’s ears and gently massage.

6. Colloidal Silver Water

Colloidal Silver Water

Colloidal Silver is a great antiseptic, and is basically a bacteria-killing machine! It can fight inflammations without the use of artificial chemical antibiotics. It can be found in any health store and all you have to do is apply 10 drops of colloidal silver in each ear, once every day until the infection heals.

This tonic can be used on minor to severe cases and is best for open wounds caused by scratching in your dog’s ears.

7. Oregon Grape

Oregon Grape

Oregon grape is a great antibacterial agent for ear infections and thus is readily available at food stores.

Just add 1 teaspoon of Oregon grape essence to 4 ounces of warm distilled water. Apply 10 drops of this mixture into each ear of your dog and gently massage. Do this at least once a day.

8. Green Tea Drops

Green Tea Drops

The antioxidants in green tea help to diminish swelling, keeping the ears clean.

The recipe for Green Tea Drops is quite simple. All you have to do is add two green tea bags to 8 ounces of boiling water. Let it cool. Insert 10 drops of this mixture into your dog’s infected ear, twice daily.

Gently massage the ear with it and make your dog shake its head.

9. Yellow Dock Root

Yellow Dock Root

Yellow Dock Root is another excellent remedy to heal an ear infection.

To make these drops all you have to do is add one tablespoon of the dry yellow dock to a half cup of boiling water. Let it cool. Insert 10 drops of this mixture into your dog’s infected ear, twice daily.

Also, make sure to locate your dropper at the tip of the ear canal and not inside it. It’s great for ear mite infestation.

10. Essential Tea Tree Oil

Essential Tea Tree Oil

Essential Tea Tree Oil is a powerful topical germicide. It is great for any kind of infection, and 2 or 3 drops of it should be applied directly every day even without infections.

If there is an infection, however, combine the essential tea tree oil with sweet almond oil, and apply 5 drops of this mixture daily.

11. White Vinegar

White Vinegar

White Vinegar is one of the most common ingredients found in any household. It has great antifungal properties for infections too.

All you have to do is mix vinegar and water in a 2:1 ratio, respectively. While pouring the mixture into your dog’s ear, ensuring that the assortment is lukewarm, otherwise, your dog might experience more pain.

12. Warm Compress

Warm Compress

A warm compress can be used to soothe and cure the dog’s ear infections such as redness, inflammation, and irritation of the ear.

Just soak a towel in hot water and squeeze off the excess. Hold it and press gently on dog’s ear. Do it several times a day for the best results.

13. Vitamin E or Cod Liver Oil

Vitamin E or Cod Liver Oil

Vitamin E and Cod Liver Oil can be used to get rid of inner and middle dog ear infections.

Just squeeze a Vitamin E capsule and use it as an eardrop or put 1-2 drops of cod liver oil in the infected area.

14. Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel

 Witch hazel has both healing and antibiotic properties. Obviously, it’s a very popular home remedy.

You can use it by combining it with equal parts apple cider vinegar and use a dropper to pour this mixture into your dog’s ear canal.

You can manage up to 10 drops, twice every day for a week at least.

15. Aloe Vera Gel 

Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera gel, both natural and the ones found in stores is amazing for comforting irritated skin. This will help cure soreness or inflammation in the ear, which is why it’s a great medicine for an ear infection in dogs.

Just warm up some aloe vera gel and Pour 1 teaspoon of it in each ear of the dog. Do it 2-3 times per day during an ear infection and wait for best results.



Final Thoughts

Prevention is always better than cure. Although we discussed some of the best home remedies for dog ear infections, it is better to be careful beforehand.

Always try to keep your pup’s ears clean, prevent excessive moisture and try to eliminate irritants.

Maintain a good hygiene and diet to keep your dog’s immune system at an ideal state to reduce risks of ear infections.



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