Dogs, like humans, can get ear infections. A dog ear infection is only slightly different in terms of symptoms, but the causes are definitely not the same. To understand how to recognize when your dog may have an ear infection and how you can treat it naturally without an expensive visit to the vet, the following is provided. The ear drum or dog’s ear canal may be effected.
How to Tell If Your Dog Has an Ear Infection
Depending on what part of your dog’s ear is infected, there will be different signs. One ear might be really warm or hot to the touch while the other ear feels normal or moderately warm. Your dog may constantly shake his/her head as though he/she is trying to shake water out, or scratch until he/she has bloody and torn ears. There may be a problem with the ear canal, ear inflammation, or the middle ear could be affected.
Sometimes if a dog shakes his/her head hard enough and frequently enough, an ear can swell and bloat to look like a little balloon on the side of your dog’s head. This outer ear flap is actually filled with blood and will need to be drained by a professional either by cutting the ear after an ear cleaning with an ear wash or by using a needle to extract the blood pooled between the layers of tissue of the ear flap.
There may be an excess of earwax or a lot of drainage coming from the ear. If the middle ear or inner ear infection is particularly bad, the ear will stink like something rotten and really foul. While it helps to clean this mess away, the infection will remain until it is treated. Scabby ear flap skin or crusts of a clear fluid that seems to re-accumulate after you scrape it off and clean the ear are also signs your dog may have an infection. The dog’s ear infection could be a bacterial infection or yeast infection.
What Causes These Dog Ear Infections
There are a couple of causes of a dog ear infection. Like humans, the main culprit is often bacteria and an excess amount of fluid trapped in the inner ear where the bacteria can grow. If your dog is the breed type to have big floppy ears, he/she is more likely to have problems with ear infections if you are not proactive about preventing the infections and keeping your dog’s ears really clean.
Bacterial and Yeast Ear Infections
A second cause is yeast. Yeast is actually already present in your dog’s ears, believe it or not. It does serve a purpose, but if the yeast is given a chance to grow too fast it will take over your dog’s ears, and possibly his/her whole body. A systemic yeast infection becomes really hard to treat, even after you kill the infection in the ear caused by the yeast. This can also cause an odiferous ear discharge.
Mites, Insects, Foreign Objects
A third cause of infections in your dog’s ears is anything that does not belong there, namely ticks, fleas, ear mites, and/or objects your dog somehow managed to get lodged in his/her ear while running around outside. Anytime your dog comes in from outdoors you should be checking his/her ears for anything crawling and clean the ears out to prevent mites and spot foreign objects. Biting insects in a pet’s ear are not only a danger to your dog’s ears, but also to his/her overall health. Dogs can get a form of lyme disease that is just as unpleasant as the human version, and the fleas can drain your dog of its blood making it very anemic.
A Weak Immune System as a Cause
Finally, if your dog experiences a lot of ear infections that reoccur no matter what you do, there is probably an underlying factor your vet has not discovered. For holistic pet doctors, this usually means that your dog has some sort of immunity issue. Cleaning and gardening chemicals around the house can have a huge impact on your dog’s immune system, and finding healthier, more natural products will prevent damage to your dog’s (and your family’s!) immune system. Restoring the natural balance to the body by not using harsh chemicals around the house can dramatically improve your dog’s ability to resist the other causes of a canine ear infection.
Prevention Measures for Dog Ear Infections
Some preventive measures were mentioned above (e.g., using only natural cleaning agents and checking ears for biting insects), but there are many more holistic measures you can take to prevent ear infections. Dogs should not go swimming or wading in large bodies of water where there is a good chance that bacteria from the water can make its way into your dog’s ears. Chemical runoff into waterways is also a big problem because the toxins can find their way into your dog through eyes, ears, nose, mouth and even anus, urinary tract and reproductive openings.
Diet Prevents Common Ear Infections
A raw food diet works to restore your dog’s natural dietary needs as if your dog was in the wild and eating what its wild canine cousins would eat. This type of diet has a perfect balance of protein, vegetables (because dogs are actually omnivores), vitamins and minerals to boost your dog’s immune system and help prevent all kinds of infections. If you decide you are also going to try to detox your dog, detox the environment at the same time. Use a proper holistic detox diet for your dog such that your dog is still getting what he/she needs nutritionally, but the detox diet is removing the toxins your dog’s body may have absorbed recently.
Natural Ear Infection Remedies for Your Dog
If your dog has already contracted an ear infection, don’t worry. There are ways to treat this naturally and without worrying about the situation. If caught early enough, you might even be able to cure the infection without any stronger antibiotics or medicines that have a heavy impact on your dog’s digestive system and overall ability to resist other illnesses.
The first step is in recognizing that your dog’s body is fighting something else. There is a bigger reason why your dog somehow got an ear infection, and that your dog’s body is already trying to do what the body naturally does; fight infection. You can help your dog by using a number of natural cleaning agents that are very safe and won’t harm your dog at all.
Vinegar, which is a natural disinfectant in most natural cleaning products. In your dog’s ear it will destroy bacteria and break down yeast. You can use it in place of water to flush your dog’s ear(s) on a regular basis.
- Peroxide, as an ear cleaner should be diluted as one part peroxide, three parts water. It will foam and make a mess, which you should wipe away or use a bulb syringe to extract all of the excess residue from your dog’s ears. Doing so will avoid creating a breeding ground for another infection.
- Natural oils, which get into the inner ear and break down ear wax so it’s easier to remove and easier to clean your dog’s ears. You may also add a natural essence like mint or citrus to remove any stinky odor that may be emanating from your dog’s ears and help with the ear problem.
To really make the vinegar an effective cleaner, try combining it with a few drops of iodine and/or rubbing alcohol and adding a teaspoon of boric acid, which is a detergent found in many natural cleaning products. If your dog is in extreme agony, or he/she has bloody discharge coming from one or both ears, don’t use vinegar or peroxide because it might cause intense pain. Take your dog to a healer to ask what kinds of drops might be used and/or whether or not the need for stronger medicine might be necessary.