If you’ve noticed your dog’s ears are smelly, have discharge, or are causing discomfort, they might have a canine ear infection.
Ear infections are common, and one of the top reasons pet owners bring their dogs to the vet. However, there are safe, effective treatments you can do at home to relieve your pup’s infection.
Here’s a guide to help you identify your dog’s ear infection and treat it yourself.
Know when your dog has an ear infection
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), about 20% of dogs get ear infections — widespread in breeds with floppy ears.
Pet owners who wonder if their beloved canine might have an ear infection should look for the following signs of an ear infection:
- Constant scratching at their ear
- Ear wax buildup
- Head shaking
- A foul odor
- Redness or swelling around the ear canal
- Display pain and discomfort
The AKC says ear conditions most frequently occur among 50% of dogs with skin allergies and 80% with food sensitivities.
5 methods to treat canine ear infections
No pet parent wants to watch their dog suffer from an earache.
Although some canine ear infections require a vet visit, you can try to treat many at home yourself with these five methods.
1. Determine the cause
Allergies, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune diseases, foreign objects — such as grasses and bugs — water exposure, or more severe conditions cause canine ear infections.
Figuring out the cause of your dog’s ear infections and removing the source is an effective treatment. It also helps prevent future infections.
Like humans, dogs’ immune systems are sensitive to various factors. Constant exposure to the cause often results in poor immune responses and more frequent irritations.
2. Keep your dog’s ears dry
Warm, wet, and floppy ears, especially in breeds like cocker spaniels or Bassett hounds, are conducive to yeast and bacteria growth. If you want your dog’s ear infection to clear up, you must ensure their ears remain dry.
Gently stick a cotton ball at the opening of your pup’s ears when you bathe them. Afterward, remove the cotton and dry the ears with a hand towel.
3. Give your pup supplements
Supplements are no substitute for a nutritious diet, but they could help manage your dog’s recurring ear infections.
Omega-3 supplements have anti-inflammatory properties and boost immunity — particularly helpful if your dog’s ear infections stem from allergies. A healthy immune system makes a difference when trying to prevent ear infections from continuously forming.
Focusing on your dog’s gut health with supplements also reduces its infection susceptibility.
4. Clean their ears
You can treat your dog’s ear infection with a pup-friendly, vet-recommended cleaning solution. Use an ear flush or generic cleanser with chlorhexidine gluconate and ketoconazole that removes bacteria, yeast, and fungus in the ear canal.
Just soak a cotton ball in the solution and squeeze it into your dog’s ear. Then massage the ear’s base for about 20 to 30 seconds.
Avoid pushing the cotton into your dog’s ear canal to prevent sending the infection deeper into the ear drum.
5. Ask your vet
Although there are ways you can treat your dog’s ear infections at home, sometimes you need to call the vet.
Vets might decide that your pup requires a prescription for an antibiotic or stronger cleaning solution. This becomes especially critical if your dog suffers chronic ear infections.
If your dog’s ear infections are allergen-related, your vet might suggest monthly allergy shots to help reprogram their immune systems. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, 50% of dogs that receive injection treatments see improvements in their symptoms.
How to prevent canine ear infections
Preventative measures are critical if you want to reduce and eliminate canine ear infections. Pet parents should keep the following tricks in mind:
- Keep your dog’s ears clean. Get in the habit of drying your dog’s ears after baths or other water exposure to prevent otitis externa or swimmers ear.
- Clean your dog’s ears with a vet-recommended cleaning solution to avoid yeast and bacterial growth — don’t overclean unless necessary.
- Wash their favorite toys in pet-friendly detergent, primarily if they use them outside on the grass.
- Avoid letting your dog play on recently-treated lawns
- Limit the number of pesticides and fertilizers you use outdoors
- Try pet supplements to boost their immune system.
Additionally, improving your pet’s diet is essential. Switch your dog to natural food brands to receive crucial nutrients without toxic byproducts and harmful contaminants.
A recent survey commissioned by the American Pet Products Association found that 41% of dog owners fed their pets premium formula dog food in 2020. That’s a 37% year-over-year (YoY) increase.
Safely, effectively treat ear infections
Your faithful companion needs your help in treating ear infections.
Notice the symptoms of irritation and determine the appropriate steps for cleaning bacteria and preventing future infections.
Jane Marsh is an environmental writer passionate about pet care and health. To read more of her work, follow her site Environment.co.