How to Treat a Dog's Ear Infection Without Vet Help
The Dreaded Ear Infection
It is not unusual to see our dogs scratching away. When they scratch their body or their head, it usually means nothing. But when the scratching becomes frequent, we need to take notice and examine what may be an issue.
I have been pretty lucky with my previous dogs in that they never had any issues with their ears. This all changed when I bought my golden retriever Marvin and my Labrador retriever Cooper.
They both have those cute floppy ears. Little did I know that floppy ear predisposes them to ear infections. The floppy ear doesn't allow air to circulate in the ear, moisture increases, and therefore bacterial and yeast infections are common. I noticed excessive scratching at the ear as well as excessive shaking of the dog's head. When I lifted the ear flap, I saw a lot of redness and smelled an odor. There also was an excessive amount of black earwax.
I had my first dog ear infection.
Treating the Infection Without A Vet
It was a weekend, and honestly I didn't want to pay the "emergency room fee" to take my pup in to get his ear checked on the weekend. Therefore, I started doing some online research.
First of all, after reading some online articles, I realized I had made a mistake. I should have been trying to prevent the infection from occurring in the first place with a weekly cleansing of the ear. A little preventative care goes a long way in keeping infections at bay.
There are many commercial dog ear cleaners that you can buy at the pet store, but you can also just use white vinegar, diluting one part vinegar to one part water, and then placing it in a bottle and apply it into the dog's ear. Massage the ear after the fluid is in and then gently wipe off any excessive solution. The dog will shake its head and the solution will come flying out. Be prepared!
That's terrific to know, and I made a mental note to keep the dogs' ears clean particularly after they take a swim, but unfortunately I still had an infection that I needed to treat. My research brought me to a homemade recipe from Zim Family Cockers to treat the infection. They have used this on their cockers' ears and have had great success.
- Rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
- Boric acid powder. I found this in a pharmacy. Ask the pharmacist. A prescription is not needed, but they sometimes keep it behind the counter.
- White vinegar
- Betadine antiseptic solution
- Bottle with an applicator at end (these can be found in beauty supply stores)
Pour 6 ounces of rubbing alcohol into the applicator. Add 1 ½ teaspoons of boric acid powder (do not get any boric acid on your skin or clothing, and if you do, wash immediately). Shake well, then add 2 ounces of white vinegar. Shake again. Lastly add 1 teaspoon of betadine solution. Again shake. You can warm the solution slightly which makes some dogs not object to having it put in their ear.
Now administer the solution into the dog's ear. You may need someone to hold the dog while you do this. Betadine stains, so make sure you are some place where stains won't matter. After putting the solution in you can massage the ear. The dog will shake his head so be ready for the fluid to come out. It stains, so do this somewhere where stains don't matter!
Apply daily until symptoms clear, then once a week, then once every two weeks to maintain the ear.
I used this solution and got the ear infection nipped in the bud. I really was impressed with this, and thanks to Zim's Cocker Spaniels I found a terrific remedy.
One final note is that this should not be applied when the eardrum is ruptured or if there are any open wounds in the ear. The alcohol can sting and you don't want the boric acid to get in to the dog's system. If you have any doubts, please go to the vet and have them look at the ear.
Other Options for Home Treatment of Infections
As good as that solution was, I did find it a bit messy. The betadine solution did stain and I wanted an at-home way to treat my dog's ear infection without the mess.. I came across a product that I am absolutely THRILLED with. It is called Zymox and it is honestly one of the best products I have used.
Zymox is for acute and chronic inflammation of the external ear caused by bacterial, viral and yeast infections. It contains antibacteral, antifungal and antiviral agents. This is an antibiotic free treatment. Zymox comes either with or without 1% hydrocortisone, depending on whether you feel you need the cortisone to address the dog's discomfort. No need to clean the ear before treatment; in fact it is discouraged. Treat once a day for seven days or up to 14 days if the infection is chronic.
I gave it a shot; I bought Zymox and put it to the test. So did it work?
When my lab Cooper got another one of his ear infections, I went with Zymox instead of the homemade solution. My dog had been in extreme discomfort, and his ear was scarlet red and had a bad odor. I regret not taking pictures of it before and after the treatment, since the difference was remarkable. Using only this solution, his ear was almost back to its normal pink color within three days! Cooper was no longer scratching at his ear or shaking his head. The black gunk in his ear was almost gone. I really was impressed with this product.
There are a few cons with this product. One was that I am not able to buy this product locally and must order it over the internet. The other is that it leaves a bit of an oily residue, so the hair on the doggie's ear looks dirty. I am sure this is much the same if you are using an antibiotic solution in the ear but I still thought it worth mentioning.
The best part for me (besides not having to drag my dog to the vet) is the money I am saving. This sure beats the cost of antibiotics.
I have been using cleaners to keep the dogs' ears healthy, but when they do get the occasional ear infection this product is the answer! I believe some vets carry this product now, but honestly it would be much cheaper getting this product elsewhere. It is NOT a prescription and you don't need to pay prescription prices.
Let me add that when I wrote this article back in 2011 I absolutely loved this product. It is 2016 and I must say this is a product that no pet owner should be without. I have used it many many times. It has saved me hundreds of dollars on vet visits. The product is outstanding!!!
Now there are times that a vet visit is wise and prudent. Sometimes ear pain is not due to fungal, viral or bacterial infections. A trip to the vet would be wise if you have any doubts. However, if you are pretty sure this is just a run-of-the-mill ear infection, the solutions above should be tried. It is great to have them at your disposal and it really is cost saving. Many people have spent hundreds of dollars trying to treat chronic ear infections in their animals. Using cleaners plus the above solutions may be the answer you are looking for. In this economy, this is the answer for me.