How to Treat a Dog's Ear Infection Without Vet Help
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 bought 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 an odor and black wax in their ear canal, I went online in search of an effective home remedy.
This should not be applied when the eardrum is ruptured or if there are any open wounds, sores, scratches, or punctures,. The alcohol can sting, and you don't want the boric acid to get into the dog's system. If you have any doubts, please go to the vet and have them look at the infection.
Homemade DIY Treatment for Dog Ear Infection
It was a weekend, and I honestly didn't want to pay the "emergency room fee" to get my pup's ear checked. My research brought me to a homemade recipe from Zim Family Cockers. They have used this on their cocker spaniel's ears and have had great success.
- 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)
- Pour 6 oz. (180 mL) of rubbing alcohol directly into the bottle.
- Add 1 ½ tsp. (7.5 ml) 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 oz. (60 mL) of white vinegar and shake again.
- Lastly, add 1 tsp. (5 ml) of Betadine solution. Shake again.
- You can warm the solution slightly. This may help some dogs who don't like cold liquids in their ear.
I used this solution and got the ear infection nipped in the bud in just a few days. I really was impressed with this, and thanks to Zim Family Cockers, I found a terrific remedy.
How to Treat a Dog's Ear Infection
Wipe the ear with a cotton bud to remove loose wax, dirt, and/or gunk.
Pour in enough solution to fill the infected ear. You may need someone to hold the dog while you do this.
After putting the solution in, massage the ear. You will know that you've applied enough solution when you can hear a swishing sound. If not, add a few more drops. Note: Betadine stains, so make sure you're doing it in a place where stains won't matter.
Use a cotton ball to clean out the ear and soak up the excess solution. The dog will also shake his head, so be ready for the fluid to come out.
Apply daily until symptoms clear. Then, do it once a week and then once every two weeks to maintain the ear.
Another Option for Home Treatment of Ear Infection
As good as the homemade solution was, I did find it a bit messy. The betadine solution stains, and I wanted an at-home way to treat my dog's ear infection without the mess.
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.
- 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).
Does It Work?
Yes!!! 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 because the difference was remarkable.
How Long Does It Take?
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, honestly, it would be much cheaper to get this product elsewhere. It is not a prescription, so you don't need to pay prescription prices.
- 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.
- 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.
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, and it has saved me hundreds of dollars on vet visits. The product is outstanding!
Note: 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. However, if you are sure this is just a run-of-the-mill ear infection, then you should try the solutions above. 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, they were the answer for me.
How to Prevent Dog Ear Infection
After doing research about treating ear infection in dogs, I realized that I should have been preventing the infection from occurring in the first place with a weekly cleansing. 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 you dog has excessive hair around or inside the ear canal, it should be removed. If you are not experienced with grooming ear hair, have a professional groomer do it.
- Regularly clean your dog's ear with a cleaning solution. Soak a cotton ball with the solution and swipe around the inside of the ear. Remember to dry the ear afterwards.
Many cases of middle ear infection go unrecognized. It is important to regularly clean your dog's ears and keep them dry.
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 white vinegar.
- Dilute one part vinegar to one part water.
- Place it in a squeeze bottle.
- Pour it into the dog's ear until the ear canal is filled.
- Massage the ear after the fluid is in, and then gently wipe off any excess solution.
The dog will shake its head, and the solution will come flying out. Be prepared!
It is estimated that about 20% of dogs have some form of ear disease.
Symptoms of Dog Ear Infection
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
The three most common causes of ear infection include getting water trapped in the ear canal, allergies, and ear mites.
Causes of Dog Ear Infection
There are a myriad of 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 pooch 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 infection 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 that later develop thyroid or endocrine disorders, autoimmune diseases (pemphigus), or meningitis could be affected.