Clean ears are essential to your dog’s health and well-being. Dirty ears are a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, which can trigger painful infections.
Ear problems often go hand in hand with environmental or food-based allergies and sensitivities, and dogs who are prone to itchy skin and hot spots frequently suffer with ear issues as well. As with many skin conditions, a problem with the ears may be indicative of some other internal issues going on with another body system.
Most dogs’ ears do not require regular cleaning and can mostly be left alone. In fact, it’s better to leave normal, healthy ears alone and not attempt to clean them for the sake of it, because this in itself can disrupt the delicate pH balance and natural environment there.
Minor amounts of debris can be removed with a clean, dry cotton pad alone, which is the best solution for maintaining ears that don’t have a deep-seated problem of any kind. Never try to clean beyond the areas of the ears that you can actually see.
A grain-free diet is almost always helpful in combating chronic yeast infections. Grains contain natural sugars which yeasts can feed upon, and multiply. In most milder cases, eliminating grains and cleaning the ears of any built up debris will set your dog on a path to long term ear health.
If antibiotics are prescribed for a persistent or stubborn ear infection, consider supplementing the diet with a good probiotic supplement containing acidophilus to help maintain the balance of good bacteria in the dog’s system. Live-culture plain yogurt with lactobacillus and acidophilus can also help to offset the side-effects of antibiotic therapy.
Topical Treatments: Altering the pH of the ear is a primary step in combating yeast and bacterial infections. A basic ear cleaner can be prepared at home, and work double duty to correct the pH and kill any contaminants living there:
Apple cider vinegar has been used for decades for external and internal folk medicine. It has been proven to heal naturally and kill germs as well. Apple cider vinegar is excellent for treating yeast infections (candida) of the ear. Mix equal parts with water to wipe out excess debris from visible areas of the ear. It is a very gentle and effective solution that can be used on a weekly basis when cleaning dogs ears.
Calendula has excellent anti-fungal properties. It is also very effective in promoting the healing of wounds. Combine the following in a glass: 1 cup warm distilled or filtered water; 1 teaspoon calendula tincture; 1/2 teaspoon sea salt.
Colloidal Silver is a natural and powerful broad spectrum antibiotic agent and speeds healing. Silver has excellent antiseptic, anti-fungal and disinfectant properties. A few drops can be applied into the ears daily for about seven to ten days, until some relief is seen.
Green tea brewed as for drinking and cooled to room temperature, can be used to moisten the ear. Its mild and has acidifying, antibacterial properties.
Olive Oil is a soothing nutritional supplement oil especially good for ear mites. Administer 3-7 drops of warm olive oil into the ear canal to help smother pests. A small amount of oil applied to the tip of the outer ear can also prevent ear mites from reentering.
Garlic is a natural broad-spectrum antibiotic. The active antibiotic agent in garlic is allicin (a sulfur compound). Garlic oil can be used to keep ears clean, treat bacterial of fungal infections of the ear, eliminate ear mite infestations and treat inner ear fluid and inner ear swelling.
Topical treatments can be used routinely, or on an as-needed basis, to clean the ears. It’s essential not to push anything into the ear canal beyond the visible outer folds of the ear. Doing so can cause extreme damage to the delicate internal workings of the ear. The ear is a very sensitive to chemicals and temperature, do not use anything too cold or too hot in your pet’s ears.
When treating ear infections make sure that the dropper or syringe is located at the entrance to the ear canal – the syringe should never be placed inside of the ear canal. Gently rub/massage the ear in a circular motion, then remove your hand and let your dog/cat shake its head. Use a cotton ball to gently wipe any excess oil off the inside of the ear flap.
Dogs and cats that have frequent ear infections can benefit from taking Echinacea which has anti-biotic, anti-viral and immune system stimulating properties. Coconut Oil can also be beneficial as it has multiple health benefits including anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral properties.
The solution to ear infections should be a strategic one in which the goal is to find the best all around health supporting option. Topically treating the immediate symptoms whilst also providing ingested herbal treatment to assist the body in cleansing itself of the infection.
Its important to find the cause of the ear infection – e.g, if the ear infection is a result of a yeast bloom from an allergy to a food ingredient or additive in the dog’s or cat’s diet it’s time for a full review of their diet. Ongoing maintenance means putting a regime in-place to check and clean the ears on a regular (i.e. weekly, bi weekly) basis.
Caution: Do not use any of these treatments if your animal’s ear drums are perforated or punctured. Persistent ear ailments that do not clear up using simple measures will require veterinary attention.