My retrievers had ear infections that I effectively resolved at home. I hope this article will help your dogs as well.
The Dreaded Ear Infection
I was pretty lucky with my previous dogs because they never had any issues with their ears. This all changed when I got my Golden Retriever, Marvin, and my Labrador Retriever, Cooper. They both have those cute, floppy ears.
Little did I know that having floppy ears predisposes them to ear infections. The floppy ear doesn't allow air to circulate, so moisture increases and, therefore, bacterial and yeast infections are common.
When I saw Marvin and Cooper excessively scratching their heads and discovered that there was odor and black wax in their ear canal, I realized I couldn't get them to the vet. I decided to go online to research home remedies.
Necessary Precautions for Pet Owners
There are times when 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. Otherwise, the products below are great to have at your disposal, and they really are cost effective.
Many people have spent hundreds of dollars trying to treat chronic ear infections in their animals. The solutions I mention below worked for me and my dogs and saved me tons of money.
The below information is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice. In some countries and states in the U.S., it is illegal to treat your dog at home or forgo proper diagnosis, treatment, and prescription from a veterinarian. Failing to do so could cause acute or chronic and irreversible health issues in your dog.
1. Zymox: Great At-Home Treatment for Ear Infections in Dogs
Zymox is made for acute and chronic inflammation of the external ear caused by bacterial, viral, and yeast infections. It contains antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antiviral agents. This is an antibiotic-free treatment. Zymox comes either with or without 1% hydrocortisone. You can choose whether you need the cortisone to address the dog's discomfort.
- Always read the instructions on the product label before proceeding.
- No need to clean the ear before treatment; in fact, it is discouraged.
- Use it once a day for seven days (or up to 14 days if the infection is chronic).
How Long Does It Take to Work?
Using only this solution, Cooper's ear was almost back to its normal pink color within three days! He was no longer scratching or shaking his head and the black gunk was almost gone. I was really impressed with this product.
- I cannot buy this product locally and must order it over the internet. I believe some vets carry this product now, but it would be much cheaper to get this product elsewhere.
- The product leaves a bit of an oily residue, so the hair on the doggie's ear will look dirty. This would also be the case if you were using an antibiotic solution.
- It's effective.
- It is not a prescription, so you don't need to pay prescription prices.
- 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.
Does It Really Work?
Yes! When my lab, Cooper, got another one of his ear infections, I used Zymox. He 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 because the difference was remarkable.
Read More From Pethelpful
2. ACV Homemade Ear Cleanser for Dogs
There are many commercial dog ear cleaners that you can buy at the pet store, but you can also just use apple cider vinegar (ACV).
- Dilute one part ACV to one part distilled water.
- Place it in a clean squeeze bottle.
- Gently pour it into the dog's ear.
- Massage the ear after the fluid is in and gently wipe off any excess solution.
Your dog will shake its head and the solution will come flying out. Be prepared!
The Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections
scratching of the affected area
redness and swelling
excessive head shaking or tilting
yellow, brown, or bloody discharge
loss of balance
black ear wax
rubbing the ear on floor or furniture
pain when opening the mouth or reluctance to chew
What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs?
There are numerous reasons why a dog might get an ear infection, and these reasons fall under three broad categories: lifestyle, allergies, and genetics.
- Lifestyle: Dogs that are frequently exposed to water are more prone to developing ear infections. If the ear is not dried after swimming and bathing, the trapped moisture can foster bacteria and lead to yeast growth.
- Allergies: Sometimes there are underlying causes that are not so noticeable. Your dog could be allergic to environmental factors such as pollens, grass, or dust mites, or he/she may be allergic to food. Most food-allergic dogs are allergic to the primary protein source in their food (fish, beef, chicken, or soy).
- Genetics: Dogs with floppy ears are more prone to ear infections because their ear flap restricts air flow and creates a dark and moist environment that is a breeding ground for yeast and bacteria. Likewise, breeds with hairy ears are more likely to be affected because the hair in their ear canal traps moisture and debris. Additionally, dogs that are born with or later develop thyroid or endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases (pemphigus), or meningitis could be affected.
How to Prevent Dog Ear Infections
After doing research about treating ear infections in dogs, I realized that I should have been preventing them from occurring in the first place with weekly cleanings. The following tips will go a long way in keeping infections at bay:
- Dry your dog's ears thoroughly after a swim or a bath.
- If your dog has excessive hair around or inside the ear canal, it can be removed by a professional groomer or at the vet's office.
- Regularly clean your dog's ear with a dog-safe cleaning solution. Soak a cotton ball with the solution and wipe around the inside of the ear. You can also rest the soaked cotton ball in the ear canal and massage the ear with the ear flap covering it. Remove the cotton ball and let your dog shake his or her head. Remember to dry the ear afterward.
3. "Zim Family Cockers" Ear Cleaner Recipe
My research also brought me to the Zim Family Cockers website. Here they have a tried-and-true ear-cleaning solution that was originally given to them by the former secretary of the Cocker Spaniel Club of San Diego county. It is important to note that this "recipe" has not been advised by a veterinarian; only a veterinarian can diagnose, prognose, prescribe, and treat.
The Zims have used this on their Cocker Spaniels' ears and have had great success. Of course, always proceed with caution:
- Boric acid can be toxic to dogs if inhaled, ingested, and not used appropriately.
- Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl) AND white vinegar can be extremely painful if applied to an open wound, damaged tissue, or into an inflamed ear canal or one with a ruptured eardrum.
- Betadine cannot be used on wounds and should not be used in full-strength; it is cytoxic.
Lastly, as repeated before, this can only be used if the eardrum is intact; otherwise, a dog can be at serious risk of injury and/or at risk of going deaf.
Nothing should be inserted into a dog's ear if the eardrum is ruptured or if there are any open wounds, sores, scratches, or punctures.
- Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl).
- Boric acid powder. I found this in a pharmacy. A prescription is not needed, but they sometimes keep it behind the counter, so try asking the pharmacist.
- White vinegar.
- Betadine antiseptic solution.
- A bottle with an applicator at the end (these can be found in beauty supply stores).
How I Made the "Zim Family Cockers" Recipe
Note: Consider wearing personal protective equipment to avoid contact with boric acid powder and to avoid staining.
- I poured 6 oz. (180 mL) of rubbing alcohol directly into a bottle.
- I added 1 ½ tsp. (7.5 mL) of boric acid powder. I shook the bottle well. (Note: If boric acid gets on skin or clothing, wash immediately.)
- I added 2 oz. (60 mL) of white vinegar and shook the bottle.
- Lastly, I added 1 tsp. (5 mL) of Betadine solution and shook the bottle again.
- I warmed the solution slightly as some dogs don't like cold liquids in their ear.
I used this solution and it nipped the ear infection in the bud in just a few days. I really was impressed with this. Thanks to Zim Family Cockers, I found a terrific remedy. As good as the homemade solution was, however, I did find it a bit messy (the betadine solution stains).
How I Got Rid of My Dog's Ear Infection
I wiped the ear with a cotton bud to remove loose wax, dirt, and/or gunk.
I poured in enough solution to fill the infected ear. It helped me to have someone hold the dog during this.
After putting the solution in, I massaged the ear until I could hear a swishing sound. Note: Betadine stains, so I made sure to do it in an appropriate location.
I used a cotton ball to clean out the ear and soak up the excess solution. My dog shook his head and fluid came out.
I used the solution daily until the symptoms cleared. I did it once a week and then once every two weeks.
- WebMD, "Ear Infections in Dogs: Symptoms and Treatment."
- Cesar's Way, "Ear Infections in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments."
- AKC, Dog Ear Infections: "Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, and Prevention."
- VetStreet, "Chronic Otitis/Chronic Ear Infection in Dogs."
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: Should I clean my dog's ears when using Zymox to treat an ear infection?
Answer: You should not clean the ears prior if using Zymox. Let me know if you have any other questions
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on January 27, 2019:
Judy, This same company makes a topical cream for skin infections. I have never used it but I'm impressed with this company so I personally would give it a try. Try doing a search. I know they sell it on Amazon and u can check the reviews too. Let me know how it goes... Leslie
Judy on January 27, 2019:
I have used this for my dog's ear infection from swimmers ear & floppy ears, is the most effective product I have used. My dog got a bacterial skin infection from the lake this past fall. She has had 4 rounds of anti biotics and countless shampooing with anti-bacterial shampoo. Bacteria skin infection still comes back. Do you think this would work on her skin?
Angie on October 26, 2018:
Thank you for such informative information on home remedies for dog's ears, it is most helpful. :)
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on October 15, 2018:
Hi Lisa~ Thanks for your feedback. Curious as to why you think the enzyme is bad treatment for the dogs? it is recommended by my vet and has worked wonderfully for us for years. What are the huggies doing when you wipe the body down? What is the purpose? I am always open to new ideas. :) I am glad you found something that works and thanks for sharing!
Marcy, So sorry I didn't get back to you right away! I think since your pups ear is swollen it would be best to take him to the vet. I know it is hard because my puppy is terrified of the vet as well. Because we don't know for sure what the issue is we need a qualified vet to diagnose. Let me know what you find out!!
Lisa on October 15, 2018:
I have found something that works for my cat, and may work for dogs. Was going to market my finding, but it is too complicated. So, for the love of pets, I will just put it out there. My cat suffered with chronic ear issues for over 10 years. So, out of desperation and because her prescription meds had side effects and quit working, I tried everything...and I mean everything. I even tried some on myself and wow..the enzyme stuff is awful. So it is human tested :-). Because I have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, I have to do things quick. I do them in two minute increments, which is how long this takes. Step one: wipe the pets ear with a Huggies wipe. Step two: wipe pets body with a Huggies wipe. Step three: Brush pet with a good brush (I use the Furminator)). Step four: wipe body again with Huggies wipe to get excess fur/hair. Step five: Squirt two squirts of Bactine on your finger, and apply gently to pets ear. Step six: Give pet a treat. My precious kitty, who I love more than words can say, has had zero ear issues since I began this process, over two years ago. Oh, the bactine has an antiseptic and a pain reducer (a good amount of lidocaine, which numbs the area and prevents pain and scratching). I hope this works for you too.
Marcy weekley on October 09, 2018:
My dog has a swollen ear and she whines alot and she tilts her head to the side because her ear hurts her and we already put peroxide in her ear but she didn't like it, we are dreading in taking her to the vet cause she hates the vet doctor
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on August 28, 2018:
Very true. But some people have limited income. Others are in areas where a vet is not available. These solutions that have been discussed work well. Am going to add. Vets have recommended these treatments themselves
Ash on August 28, 2018:
Just bring your dog to the vet. That's what they are trained for.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on July 29, 2018:
Hi Michelle. Depends on the dog. Some hate the feel of the fluid in their ears. It shouldn't be too long tho. Keep me posted!
Michellelee0706 on July 28, 2018:
I put some solution in my dogs ear bevause she has an infection and she is scratching and shaking her head a lot. How long does this last after cleaning ear ? It's been about 1/2 hour
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on June 04, 2018:
Ana, I have never had a problem with the zymox running into the eyes. It's thicker and I only put it into the canal. U don't need a ton.I think some are thinner tho nothing should go into eyes. Even some natural ingredients are unsafe. I definitely would not try the solution I mentioned in the article with the betadine. I wish u luck finding something
Ana Bachman on June 04, 2018:
I am also looking for a treatment that does not contain anything that will make the dog go blind as the one treatment sold to me by the vet stated this on the bottle. I have a difficult time holding my dog as both my husband and myself hold her and she gets the medicine all over and close to getting it in her eyes. So I am looking for something natural that doesn't have any side effects like possible blindness.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on May 25, 2018:
Sorry that didn't work for u. I have been using zymox for ten years and love it. My vet recommends it. I'm not sure which solution u used but if there is any doubt about what ur dog has then go to a vet. Perhaps ur dog was allergic to the ingredients? Weirder things have happened. Glad it all worked out for u. I still highly recommend either of these treatments listed
L on May 25, 2018:
I tried this solution a year ago and it was horrible. My dog was rubbing her ears on the carpet in an almost desperate state. It was obvious she was in pain! I made the recipe exactly as directed from another website. This is a cruel remedy to a dogs infected ear. Go to the vet (as I did) and get a more humane ear solution. Gentizol works great for infection and TrizUltra works to keep the ear dry and clean.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on May 13, 2018:
Best of luck with Opie! He sounds adorable. Never used the cider vinegar just the methods I described here. Zymox is my go to with mine. Have a great day and keep me posted on Opie
caroleen on May 11, 2018:
Im gonna try the cider vinegar mix, our poor boy opie is a rescue that I kept, he had a verry bad ear infection from day 1 yeast infection was so bad when we first got him, he had blood in his pee even..vet gave me 2 rounds of calflex it seemed to work for the blood in pee, but 5 years latter we still fight the ear infections and lots of money 100's I don't really have, he is a 80 # Staffordshire pitbull but no one ever told him, sweet boy loves everyone and everything he meets. the chipmonk takes advantage of this, bully's him bad lol, Opie had bad skin suspected allergys so now I give him beneful grain free dog food it has helped and im sure he was over vaccinated also, I read the zymox was real good,I got some but cant find it at the moment..Im glad I found this sight, as I have cat's dog's and birds, I did animal rescue when I lived in Fl, but had to move to Mi U P to care for my elderly mother, so lots of changes including my fl vet who knew I rescued and discounted my visits and med's..
looking forword to sharing and learning.
Thank you !
m on May 11, 2018:
Thank you for the advice!
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on May 11, 2018:
Yes I know the stain. My dogs head a lot of gunk from yeast infection and had same thing. Never have used the red bottle so can't give an opinion there. U certainly can give it a try? I have used zymox ear cleaner and that stain from the infection eventually came off. I honestly can't remember how long it took but they didn't have it terribly long
M on May 10, 2018:
Thanks, I've tried ear wipes, but they're not strong enough to get it all off and I don't want to keep rubbing her ears and irritate them more. The stain is like glue. They look super dirty (just around the outside of the ears, not inside). I've only been using Zymox with 1% hydrocortisone. I'm thinking about getting Pet King Brands Zymox Plus (biofilm reducing, the red bottle). Do you think that by biofilm they're talking about this filmy dirt? Or do you think I should try another type of zymox on her?
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on May 10, 2018:
I just used straight water but didn’t until I knew the infection was gone. The zymox is put into a dirty ear so pulls all that gunk out. It’s not unusual to have to clean the ear after done. I also have used regular ear cleaner . That helps clean it too.
M on May 10, 2018:
The fur on the tips of my dog's ears looks really dirty and filmy from frequent use of Zymox. Any advice for cleaning it out?
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on April 22, 2018:
I am so glad it helped!!! Nothing worse than an ear infection. I appreciate your feedback :)
JrHd on April 18, 2018:
I’ve spent a lot of money and nothing would fix my dogs ear infection. I bought the ingredients to mix up the solution and by the 3rd day his ear was clean and back to normal. THANK YOU! My dog thanks you. I use once a week now as a preventative. Floppy ears and tropical climates can wreak havoc on their ears. But this works wonders. I recommend it 110%
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on January 25, 2018:
Hi Liza, glad I could help. I do have a suggestion for urinary tract infections. Dmannose. It not only works in human but dogs and cats as well. If you go into Amazon and search dmannose for dogs it should show a bunch of products. It also will give u doses depending on the size of the dog. Hope it helps. Stay in touch L
Liza on January 24, 2018:
You rock!!!! Thank you so much for sharing!!!!! We spent $300 per visit and they want a new visit with every ear infection it's crazy ... the vet said the breed is prone to ear and urinary tract infections ... Gee why not just give us something for it ... It's recurring and they are prone to it ... How many times must you confirm with a swab for $300 ... Then meds in top of that ... It's really hard on a fixed income. Thank you!!!! Can't thank you enough!!!! By the way if you have any other tips and tricks especially for licking privates due to remember and irritation in the area and urinary tract infections I would REALLY appreciate that too
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on January 13, 2018:
Amy, is there any black gunk in them? Ears will get itchy and red if it is fungal. I would try some of the suggestions in the article. Zymox comes with hydrocortisone which helps with the discomfort.. Let me know if it helps
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on October 28, 2017:
Jan, How do you know the problem is the dog's ears? When mine had issues I saw scratching of the ears, shaking of the head, redness, black gunk etc. They were not lethargic or not want food. Maybe you need a vet diagnosis? She is in my thoughts and please keep me posted. I hope she heals quickly!!
Jan on October 28, 2017:
I have not left my 3 yr old Rotwiler in 3 days. Tara enthuasim to play drasticaly changed. She became extremely lethargic, dazed & unresponsive food & water. I read the article about using Miconazole 7 with Hydrocortisone for treating dogs ear infections. Not being able to sleep, I went to Walmart came home with the products. I pray she will be more responsive soon. I will post her out come. Thank you for sharing much meeded information.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on October 05, 2017:
I bought my boric acid at rite aid pharmacy. Did u ask the people at the drug store. They may be able to help. Not sure about the boric acid for roaches. I'm not familiar with that. When u do finally get ur zymox make sure u don't clean the dogs eat prior to use. It's works better in a dirty ear.
Laura on October 05, 2017:
I have ordered the Zymox to try, however, I wanted to try the home remedy to give my dog some relief until the Zymox arrives. Having a hard time finding the boric acid, any suggestions? All I can find is boric acid use for killing roaches and I am assuming this would not be the correct thing to buy?
MsMoneypenny on September 10, 2017:
My dog has had itchy smelly ears for months- I have tried numerous remedies with very little to show for it. Vet used mix of alcohol/boric acid/gentian violet but it irritated them and made it that much harder for me to put anything in. I bought Zymox finally and like that I only have to put it in once a day (that in itself is challenging) He was drooling on the same side as the Ear that is worse and was also regurgitating some last week. I feel terrible about my failed past efforts. I definitely need to address whatever he may be allergic to (he also licks his feet)
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on September 09, 2017:
Brenda~ You may want to take a trip to the vet. The fact she won't walk and is whimpering there may be more going on. I wouldn't let too much time go by. You don't want her in pain
Brenda on September 09, 2017:
My bf put too much peroxide in my chuiuhi's ear on accident. This was last night today she won't walk if u pick her up she whimpers like it's hurting her
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on August 14, 2017:
Jay bird, thanks for the comment. I do think pet stores are starting to carry it though it is cheaper online(isn't everything?)
Jaybird on August 12, 2017:
Yes my vet prescribed this... wonderful and worked very fast! I've seen it for sale at my local pet supplies plus store also!
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on June 11, 2017:
No I didn't immediately use an ear cleaner after zymox. I waited about a week after and then cleaned my dog's ear once a week to prevent any further infection. I don't think it would hurt your cats to use the zymox. I have only used it on my dogs but it has enzymes that are useful to both cats and dogs. FYI. Zymox also makes an ear cleaner that is great to use once the ear is looking better to keep it infection free. Keep me posted and let me know how things go . L
mistyshade on June 11, 2017:
My cat had an ear infection which I had been trying to clean his ears but he would not let me leave the cleaner in long enough to do an effective cleaning by shaking his head too soon. I ended up going to the vet. He said it was bacteria, they cleaned his ears and a lot of black looking debris came out and told me to wait a couple of hours before putting in the drops. Gave me some drops that treat both bacterial and fungal infections. A week of drops I was told to re clean both ears.( I tried as stated above.) Went back to vet for a recheck and was told that one ear looked good and the other was still inflamed and he had me look through the scope to see it. Vet said he would give me a stronger drop. I asked if I should use it in both ears he said that it would be ok. Another week of drops another attempted cleaning. Back to the vet. He said inflammation was gone but the one ear still had a lot of debris. He did not give any further instructions. So I had the zymox on hand and decided to try it. I also bought an otoscope so I could (attempt) to look into the ear better. I noticed one of my other cats had a build up too in one ear. Both cats are being treated so I am hoping this will help. Doesn't look like any inflammation is going on. So hope it's ok to use this to help break down the excess build up. Did you use an ear cleaner after you were done with the solution to wash out any remaining debris that might be left behind?
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on May 13, 2017:
Steve, I see an improvement in about two to three days depending on how bad the infection is I use it for two weeks if it is a bad infection. Some infections are a bit more stubborn. If you see improvement don't stop using it but continue for a bit longer or the infection will come back. Let me know how it works for you. Leslie
steve on May 11, 2017:
I have a collie/sheperd mix.she's 15 yrs old and recenly went blind she was going in circles constantly running into things and her head tilted took her to the vet and he said ear infection he sent home 3 days of two shots and antbiotics.she started improving then after the shots she got bad again.if i get the zymox how long does it take before showing improvement?we had since she was a pup and we want to baby her with comfort.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on May 05, 2017:
Des.. that is something you need to call your vet about. They may be able to answer that quickly for you. Since I am not a vet and do not know exactly what is going on with your dogs ear, I really cannot comment or give advice.
Des on May 04, 2017:
My dog has crusty earwax pus looking gook in his ear. Can i use my ear drops i got from my doctor for an ear infection?
Paul V on April 10, 2017:
Zymox is not available here in the philippines?
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on April 05, 2017:
Susanne. Boric acid is low toxicity. When it is not mixed with anything, if it gets on your skin it may cause a slight irritation. Thus the heads up in the article to wash if that happens. Boric acid has a history of being used as an antiseptic agent. It is very useful and when mixed with other items really helps.
Susanne on April 04, 2017:
I absolutely hate seeing articles that say, "put this in your dog or on your dog but if it gets on your skin WASH IT OFF IMMEDIATELY!"
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on March 08, 2017:
Kim- the product works better if the ear has not been cleaned. However if the dog is pretty uncomfortable I'd use it as soon as possible with the understanding that I will probably have to use it a bit longer due to the fact it works better in an uncleaned ear. I'd hate to have the dog wait and be in a lot of discomfort.
Kim on March 08, 2017:
Thanks for answering my question :). Just one more question.....how long should you wait to use the zymox otic if you have cleaned the dog ears?
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on March 08, 2017:
Kim~ Yes I try then to prevent the infections. Ear cleaners used weekly are great! Sometimes if I think that is not enough I use the zymox one time weekly to maintain. I really love it! Best of luck and don't clean the ear prior to using it. If it is a bad infection you may have to use it at least a week maybe longer.
Kim on March 07, 2017:
Love that i came arcross this article!!! I'm going to be buying it for my dogs ear infections. After the ear infection seems to be gone do you use this as a preventative for future infections as well? If so how often do you use it for your dog's ears?
Zedlick on March 01, 2017:
Never put alcohol in a dog's ear
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on February 21, 2017:
Camille. You put enough solution to fill the canal. Be aware betadine will stain so maybe applying it in a tub? Also once it is in, fold the ear over and kind of rub it in. I also want to add you do not want to use this solution if your dog has any cuts etc in the ear. Isopropyl alcohol will sting if any cuts. The alcohol is first, then the boric acid( if it gets on your skin wash it off) . Mix well. Add the vinegar shake again and last the betadine. If you warm the mixture( like putting the container in warm water kind of like warming a baby bottle) , the dog may not object as much. Cold solution they don't like so much. Hope this helps and best of luck!
Camille on February 21, 2017:
Hi I want to try the home remedy on my dog, but I'm not clear on how many drops I should put in the ear.
Tali on February 04, 2017:
My dog has yeast in her ears and on her body now. She is a one year old Lhasa Apso. We have been dealing with this since she was 9 weeks old. The vet prescribed ointment in the beginning, which helped a little, but didn't cure it. What we have discovered is she has an allergy to something in her food, because we cured the yeast, only to have it come back immediately when she ate the old food for two days. So this is how we cured it: bathed dog in dish soap to remove the oil the yeast feeds on, sprayed straight white vinegar on the yeast spots, once a day for three days, then let everything dry out for four days, then sprayed again one last time. She hated having her ears sprayed, and wasn't crazy about having vinegar rubbed on her face, so expect some resistance. We switched her food to Pure Balance 95%, so she is eating a single ingredient food with vitamins and minerals added, but nothing else. By the third day of treatment her face was no longer red and weeping, her body was no longer red with the crusty yellow wet hair, and her ears went from black to pink and sweet smelling for the first time since we got her. I would say though, if the dog has open wounds, to dilute the vinegar, but she didn't have any because we are so on top of it after having dealt with it for so long. Also, make sure to get the soap into the ears and rinse until the suds are gone, seems counter productive, but the yeast will live longer if you don't eliminate the food source, which is your dogs natural skin oil. The vinegar doesn't stain anything, but it will make your dog smell like a salad...compared to the stink of yeast though its a huge improvement!
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on January 26, 2017:
Lisa..The twice monthly cleaning solution is great to try to prevent infections but once an infection is there then it does nothing. I don't think zymox has any alcohol.As I said my one dog's ears were bright red and irritated and the zymox helped a lot. Since you have a bottle double-check but I feel pretty confident in saying it won't sting the dog. It's just better and more effective using it in a dirty ear. Don't be afraid to use it for more than a week since the ear is looking rough. Let me know how it goes...L
Lisa on January 26, 2017:
Thanks for the response Leslie. She has the black looking stuff but she's scratched/rubbed her ear so much that now it's very red and irritated. I have a bottle of Zymox but was hesitant to use it for fear that it would cause the ear to itch/burn even more. The stuff from the vet is a twice monthly cleanser but it doesn't help with the itching or discharge.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on January 26, 2017:
What did your vet give the dog? I know some meds cannot be used together or close to one another. The ear is not to be cleaned before zymox use either. My one dog had bright red ears and I used the zymox with hydrocortisone in it. It did not bother him and was a life savior for us. I definitely would not use the homemade solution I discussed in this article because it has alcohol and burns. Did the vet diagnose a bacterial or Yeast infection?
Lisa on January 26, 2017:
Is it OK to use zymox on ears that are dry & raw looking or will it burn? The stuff the vet gave us for ear infections doesn't seem to help.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on January 20, 2017:
John...zymox Otic. Let me know if it helps!
Take care ..L
John D on January 19, 2017:
I'm dealing with the same issue and trying to avoid the vet visit if possible. Can you tell me if the product was zymox or zymox otic?
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on January 12, 2017:
Travis. Do the ears look dry? Does your dog Have allergies? The itching can be from that. food allergies? My one dog is so allergic he can only eat foods without grains. His skin and itching was a mess but he's good now. If not allergies then ha ve you considered using an ear cleaner? I'm not talking about for an infection but for keeping the ear healthy. That may help the itching as well. There are a ton of cleaners out there. Zymox makes one as well. I use my cleaner as a maintenance to keep the dogs ear healthy. Otherwise my dog tends to slip back to an ear that isn't healthy. I use the ear cleaner once a week. Not sure about the baby oil. I haven't really known zymox to dry out the ear.
Travis on January 12, 2017:
Baby oil perhaps?
Travis on January 12, 2017:
The zymox might have dried out my pupps ears since he healed from the minor infection now he scratches at them every night and morning and sometimes at random. they look very clean and its been over two months since I went thru two bottles of zymox. At times they look a little pink. He doesnt seem to be in much pain as through the day he plays and is normal except when he lays around sometimes scratching and at night.I was thinking of some kind of drops that add moisture?
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on January 07, 2017:
Thanks Connie for your feedback. Never had an issue with the alcohol. Of course if I had seen pus, blood etc I would have known it wasn't a typical yeast infection and perhaps is more serious such as a busted eardrum. . Both methods above have worked wonders for my dogs ( and I have had too many to mention). Do appreciate your tips and great information for the eyes as well.
Connie Paris on January 07, 2017:
You mentioned not to use these concoctions if the eardrum is damaged; You can't know that unless you look deep into the ear with an otoscope. Putting rubbing alcohol in an ear is never a good idea, it wreaks havoc on sensitive, inflamed tissue! Here on the farm, we use "Today", an OTC mastitis medication available at feed stores and online. FYI we also use neosporin (without cortisone) for eye issues. Load it into a 1cc syringe (without needle to apply). It's $5 for a large tube compared to $30 for a tiny tube of Rx eye meds. Worth a try before going to the vet. BTW I was a vet tech for 30 years.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on December 30, 2016:
Angie. I'm not sure what you mean about the hair falling out? Is it all over the body? That is something a vet can answer. The black in the ear is usually a yeast infection. You can try any of the suggestions above for that. They usually help. Any other questions you need to call your vet. Best of luck
Angie on December 30, 2016:
Hi my name is angie i have a 4yr old poddle and he has a ear infection he keeps scracthing hes ear all the time and now he got like a black wax coming out i keep cleaning every day but is no working he has a really bad ordor coming out and his hair is falling what you recomment please help me?
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on December 20, 2016:
Ashley.. the black stuff is a yeast infection. Dogs with floppy ears, where air does not circulate, are more prone to them, especially if the ear is warm and moist. Dogs that swim can get these infections a lot. My golden lays on one side of his head all the time so that one ear gets funky with yeast. It's a battle always.. I constantly need to use the remedies above to keep the infections away...best of luck!
Ashley on December 19, 2016:
My dad has a change in demeanor and he's kinda looking grumpy and his ears have that bad odor she's about four year olds pit I got from the shelter six months or more and I clean his ears constantly and I get that black stuff anybody have an opinion of what it could be causing this
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on December 13, 2016:
You are welcome! I spent tons of money too and most of the time I kept going back because my dog still had an infection. I hate seeing my poor pup miserable.
3 Dog owner on December 13, 2016:
This has saved me literally a thousand dollars over the life of knowing about it. Getting the boric acid can be tricky, but worth the effort. Every time I dig out the bottle, I think 'just saved another 200 bucks'. The first version I found was alcohol, boric acid and gentian violet, Thank you!
Jenn on December 13, 2016:
Travis, you may want to try some ear mite treatment for your dog, since he seems to only scratch in the nighttime and early am, mite activity is supposedly at it's highest at night. Just a thought. Good luck to you and your dog!
John on December 09, 2016:
Thank you for replying. This website and info has been a big help for our chocolate lab. Thank you!!
Travis on December 02, 2016:
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on December 02, 2016:
Travis.. skipping a day or two probably didn't help. Some of those yeast infections are stubborn. I see no harm in using the one without hydrocortisone. The manufacturer does suggest using the product a bit longer for stubborn infections.
John, no sorry I have no definite answer for shelf life. I can't imagine it wouldn't be similar to products that were used to make it. Had my solution for quite a while and it seemed to Continue to work. Sorry I can't be more helpful..
Travis on December 01, 2016:
Hi I used the Zymox with 1.0 cortizone a good while back about a month ago and it seems it cleared it up about 99%. All the pink color went away and he started feeling much better after the first couple of days (His was minor). It seemed to be cured but then I noticed at night and sometimes in a.m. he would scratch his ears but not for long and then that was it then he seemed to be fine. He's been doing it ever since every single night or in the morning sometimes both but just for about 30 seconds then he stops and goes to sleep. He seems fine all day..Do you think its good idea to use the Zymox without hydrocortizone this time . Last time I used it for about a week but I may have skipped a day or two at the end. after I noticed him scratching at night a little I conitnued with Zymox till the bottle is just about empty. Not sure if I should order another but with out the Hydrocortizone ? where to find ? Bought my last bottle from amazon. Thanks
John on December 01, 2016:
We made up the home remedy solution but the proportions make a much larger amount than needed. Do you have any sense of shelf life for the betadine, boric acid, vinegar, alcohol solution? Thanks.
sheppiemom3 on November 27, 2016:
I can't put anything in his ear till the middle of January. Once you use Osurnia you can't put anything in the Ear for 45 days. :( I did buy Zymox but can't use it yet. Thanks for responding back.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on November 26, 2016:
Sheppiemom... I'm sorry to hear,about your pup and his ear infection I am not a vet so cannot give,any advice for the infection. Have you tried zymox? Since nothing else has worked maybe it is worth a try? BEST OF LUCK.
sheppiemom3 on November 26, 2016:
i have a major problem with my dog. he has an ear infection for the last 3 months. we been to the vet several times and nothing has worked. the last ear drops that went in his ear we used osurnia. i think i spelled that right, he's had 2 applications and still he's walking with his head to his side and shaking his head. the vet did a few swabs and he has an inner and middle ear infection. i have spend way over a 100 easy on him and nothing is working. he's been on steroids, antibiotics, ear drops, and back on steroids. i feel so bad for my boy. i try and clean his ear and he screams. plz, if anyone can give me advise it would be much appreciated. i have tried vinegar and water, i have tried may drops. the vet said allergies, but he doesn't bite his paws, he doesn't itch. plz help anyone.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on October 23, 2016:
Aw poor pup. Yes give it a try. Certainly can't hurt. Make sure you use it as directed even when symptoms start to disappear keep using it. Let me know how it goes! I totally get the expense. My golden gets the infections all the time and it's a staple at my house. Once you get ur pups ear better trying keeping it maintained with a once a week ear cleaner. There are tons of them but I use the zymox brand since it works well imo.
Travis on October 23, 2016:
I saw it mentioned earlier I just didn't get a clear understanding of it and wanted to make sure, last night his pain came back so I'm going to give the Zymox a try today Thanks for the much needed help, I just had to spend alot on him at the vet for what they said were "needed" vaccs. and other expenses so really can't spend any more on overcharged meds!
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on October 22, 2016:
No you wouldn't be making things worse. It is just that the zymox works better if the ear has not been cleaned. It may not be as effective with them being cleaner. The black gunk is probably a yeast infection which zymox works great for. You can give it a try but do not use zymox with any other cleaner or alcohol.
Travis on October 22, 2016:
I have a 7 mth old puppy that has the ear infections in both ears (seems kind of minor I guess). Before coming across this I had already cleaned (removed all the black gunk)his ears with a cap of rubbing alcohol and he got relief and went straight to sleep after scratching ears during the night. late the next morning he started scratching every now and then and so I went to petco & bought an ear powder treatment for relief it said so then afterwards he's been alot better but still see some light red and every now and then he'll shake his head and( very rarely) he will scratch his ears so he still has the issue it seems. I just recieved the Zymox 1% hydrocortosone. But as his ears are clean now from me cleaning would I be risking making things worse by using the Zymox. Should Iuse a very little only? Thanks in advance.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on October 19, 2016:
There are pretty good ideas right here....
Sherry on October 19, 2016:
I have a pug which gets ear infections but really can't afford vet . Need a good home solution that I can use......
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on October 13, 2016:
No worries. You didn't make it worse but the product works best if the ear has not been cleaned. So it may not be as effective until the ear gets dirty again. It does sound from your description that your pup has a yeast infection. Zymox does a great job eliminating it but the ear should not be cleaned prior to using the product. So it can clear it up. Let me know how it works!!
Paola on October 12, 2016:
Thank you so much for all the helpful advice in your article. I have an 11 year old cocker and he's never had an ear infection before but I notice now that he keeps flapping his ears like he's in discomfort. I checked his ears and they are really red and full of black stuff, which I assumed was wax build up. So I cleaned it out but I keep reading the comments that you mention not to clean the ear prior to the zymox application. Did I mess up!? I hope I didn't make things worse :/
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on October 04, 2016:
Coco.. when using zymox Ear cleaner ..you can use that to maintain healthy ears. The zymox Otic you use when the dog has an infection. Do not clean the dogs ear prior to using it. I would follow the instructions and use a bit longer if the dog's infection is chronic. The virbac ear cleaner I have never used but I imagine once the ear is healthy you could use this or the zymox ear cleaner to maintain a healthy ear. The zymox otic comes in a few different ways the hydro cortisone for irritation is either .5 or 1 percent. Or you can get without as well. I use the 1 percent for my dog because his ears really bother him. I hope I helped!
Coco the bulldog on October 04, 2016:
I would like to really thank you for the great and detailed article about this issue that us as dog owners suffer from a lot, especially bulldog owners i believe hehe.
My dog had an ear infection and i have taken her to the vet. Classic..... ear swabs $, regular check$, antibiotics(Refused) $ and bad for your dog when you can treat the problem at home and ended up just getting the antibiotic ear drops.
I have been using it for 5 days and stopped although it was suggested for a full week but im just against the idea of antibiotics in the first place and my dog ear looks just fine now after 5 days.
In reference to your great article, i have bought these two cleaners:
1) Zymox Ear Cleanser With Bio-Active Enzymes, 4 oz.
2) Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner, 8 oz
Could i possibly use (1) as a treatment when my dog ears are infected or in discomfort or its uses are the same as the Virbac cleaner?
Or would i have to get the other Zymox products for this case?
1) Zymox Otic with 1% Hydrocortisone
2)Zymox Enzymatic Ear Solution with 0.5-Percent Hydrocortisone
3)ZYMOX OTIC with Hydrocortisone 1.0 % Ear Solution Treatment bacterial, viral, and yeast infections
Thank you for your feedback and assistance.
Caz5968 on September 29, 2016:
Thanks for the advice.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on September 29, 2016:
Black funky stuff is a yeast infection. It can cause a lot of redness and pain. Just make sure you don't clean the ear before you use it. Let me know how it goes. It's been my saving grace! I use it once a week to maintain the ear after infection is gone..
Caz5968 on September 29, 2016:
I'm not actually sure if it is yeast or not. One ear is red and inflamed inside and the other has the little black dried stuff that other people have mentioned. Having said that it is the inflamed side (obviously) that is causing her most grief. I'm praying this works for her.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on September 29, 2016:
Poor thing. Use the zymox every day. The hydrocortisone will help the pain. Since this is a chronic infection I'd use it at least for two weeks. Don't clean the ear out before you use it. Is it a yeast infection?
Caz5968 on September 29, 2016:
My poor Lab, Meg, is nearly three years old and has had almost constant ear infections since around a year old. She has been to the vet who took her in and flushed her bad ear out (cost me around 150GBP) but never really cured it. I have used the antibiotic drops provided by the vet every 2nd day and the ear cleanser once a week and it has never really cleared up...even after the ear flush! Currently she seems in a lot of pain...constantly whining and rubbing her ear against any object. It has been so bad recently that I can see her back leg reacting whenever she is walking around. Tonight I washed her ear out with some diluted antiseptic/disinfectant and let it dry which seems to have provided a little relief to her. I have just bought the Zymox Otic .5% and Zymox cleanser after reading some great reviews. Fingers crossed this arrives from the States quickly and actually works. It breaks my heart to see her so uncomfortable and obviously in pain :-(
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on September 28, 2016:
Yes you are absolutely right which is why I mentioned this in my article. If the dog's ear is scratched or has open wounds, sores or punctures it should not be used. The ear drum also must not be ruptured. However if there are no open wounds then you can safely use this. I have and had no issues and it cleaned their ears just fine~ I just switched to zymox because it was less messy. I have edited my article to BOLD the sentence that warns against using this is open sore or punctured eardrums. That way no one will miss it.
Melc on September 27, 2016:
Don't use alcohol on a dog's sore ear, for gawd's sake! IT BURNS!
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on September 26, 2016:
Best of luck! let me know how he does :)
Drew on September 24, 2016:
I have 2 labs with recurring ear infections. Thanks so much for this article. I made the vinegar wash and the antiseptic today for my oldest... George. Crossing my fingers that it helps him.
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on September 22, 2016:
Thanks for that info. I don't have a Hollywood feed where I live. Is the price there as good as Amaxon?
belladonna1959 on September 21, 2016:
Just so you know, Zymox can be bought at any Hollywood Feed. I've been using both the spray for hot spots and the ear solution. THE BEST STUFF EVER!
Leslie (author) from State College Pa on September 08, 2016:
I am not sure to be honest. It is basically enzymes. Maybe you can call the company?