Ear infection in dogs

Dog Ear Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Natural Remedies

Does your dog frequently shake its head, scratch its ear, and emit a strong ear odor? These symptoms could indicate numerous disorders, but they are typical of an ear infection. This condition generally has a good prognosis but must be treated promptly to prevent damage to the eardrum or deeper parts of the ear.

This treatment can be carried out naturally, using resources that are effective in restoring our pet's health and that are also safe and less aggressive than pharmacological treatment.

What is an Ear Infection in Dogs?

First, we need to understand exactly what an ear infection in dogs is. Initially, we may believe that it is the same as otitis in dogs, but they are two different terms.

Otitis is an inflammation of the ear and can have numerous causes, such as allergies, the presence of foreign bodies in the ear cavity, or viral, bacterial, or fungal infections. When there is an ear infection, there is usually otitis, as the colonization of the pathogenic agent causes inflammation in the ear canal. However, otitis is not always caused by an infection.

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Causes and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Dogs

If our dog suffers from an ear infection, it will generally be caused by bacteria, fungus, or yeast. Depending on the level of ear infection your dog is experiencing, the symptoms can vary greatly. Your dog's symptoms can range from no visible symptoms to severe cases where facial paralysis is seen. Here are several symptoms that may indicate an ear infection in dogs:

  • Frequently shaking its head.
  • Excessive scratching in the ear area.
  • Scabs inside the outer ear.
  • Swelling in the ear area and redness.
  • Yellow, brown, or bloody discharge from the ears.
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the ear that can be mistaken for strong body odor.
  • Smell of "yeast" in the ear.
  • Leaning to the side of the affected ear.
  • Pain when opening the mouth or reluctance to chew.
  • Hearing loss.
  • Noticeable hair loss around the ear.
  • Loss of balance.
  • Pain signs.
  • Behavioral changes, aggressiveness.
  • In severe cases, there are signs associated with damage to the nervous system that indicate damage to the facial nerves (such as symptoms of paralysis or inability to blink).

What to Do if Your Dog Has an Ear Infection?

If you suspect that your dog may have an ear infection, it is crucial that you consult a pet expert or veterinarian as soon as possible. The ear infection begins with a pathogenic colonization and inflammation of the external auditory canal, but if not treated promptly, it can affect the middle and inner ear, causing irreversible damage to the eardrum.

Conventional veterinary treatment will involve antibiotics (for bacterial infections) or antifungals (for fungal infections). These medications are generally administered topically, but in severe cases, they can also be administered orally, thus increasing the chances of side effects.

However, if you prefer a more natural solution, we will discuss it in the next section. If the ear infection is caught and treated early, it will likely resolve quickly.

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Home Remedies for Ear Infection in Dogs

We also have various natural alternatives at our disposal:

  • Tea tree essential oil. Ideal for any type of infection, whether caused by bacteria or fungi. If the ear does not have injuries, apply 2 or 3 drops directly each day. If the ear has injuries, mix the tea tree essential oil with sweet almond oil, adding 20 drops of essential oil in half a glass of sweet almond oil. Apply 5 drops of this mixture daily.

  • Application of hot pads. Topical heat acts as a vasodilator, reducing inflammation and pain quickly. By dilating the blood vessels, the irrigation of the tissues is improved, promoting easier recovery. Soak a cotton cloth with hot water and after wringing out the excess water, gently press on your pet's ear. Apply these pads several times a day.

  • Garlic maceration. Crush two cloves of garlic and pour them into a hermetically sealed jar with olive oil, then leave it to rest overnight. The next day, strain the mixture and add 5 drops of this preparation in the ear of your dog daily.

  • Aloe vera. Pure aloe vera juice is ideal for protecting your pet's ear canal. Applied topically, it reduces inflammation and relieves pain due to its emollient action. Apply it directly to your dog's ear at least 2 times a day.

  • Homemade antiseptic solution. Mix equal parts hydrogen peroxide, water, and apple cider vinegar. Soak a cotton swab in this solution and clean the affected ears. Ensure that the liquid does not enter the ear, as this could worsen ear pain in dogs. This type of antiseptic solution is used especially when the ear infection is external.

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How to Prevent Ear Infection in Dogs

Prevention is better than cure. Therefore, adopt the following measures to help prevent ear infection in your dog:

  • Ear checks. Regularly check your dog's ears for developing problems. Smell is usually the most obvious change.

  • Ear cleaning. Clean your dog's ears frequently with an antiseptic solution for veterinary use.

  • Dry ears. Prevent excessive humidity by properly drying your dog's ears after bathing it and preventing it from spending long periods in the water. If your dog is prone to ear infections, insert a cotton swab into its ears before bathing to prevent excessive water entry.

  • Trim excessive hair around the ears. Furry ears are usually very warm and moist, a perfect environment for bacteria and yeast to overgrow. Trimming the hair a bit can help get air into the ears. Always consult with a pet expert first.

  • Treat skin conditions. The inside of your dog's ears are lined with skin, so overall skin health is particularly important when it comes to preventing infections.

  • Balanced diet. Give your pet a balanced diet to keep its immune system in an optimal state.

For more information, talk to one of our Pet Experts and get customized advice by submitting a request in our Mavyn website.