Dogs scratch all the time. They do it so much that it’s kind of hard to notice when there might be a larger problem than just an itch. Harley was scratching an awful lot suddenly, and when I lifted his ear, I can only describe what I saw as an ear infection. Dog ear infections don’t need to be frightening if you know what to do.
Causes of Dog Ear Infections
Ear infections come from bacteria and yeast that gather within the ear and make your dog uncomfortable. Any dog can experience an infection, but there are some dogs that are predisposed to them thanks to their floppy ears. As adorable as they are, floppy ears don’t allow air to circulate, increase the moisture in the ear, and lead to more infections. It’s even more difficult to figure out if there’s a problem since you have to lift their ears up to check. Trauma can be a cause as well though, as well as the presence of foreign objects or simple allergies.
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Dog Ear Infection Symptoms
One of the best ways for you to identify whether your dog has an ear infection is if they’re scratching or rubbing at their ears a lot more than usual. They might even shake their head and paw at their ear to try and fix it, or display a reluctance to chew. Once you lift their ear, you’ll see redness, swelling, and will notice a strange odor. Black earwax may gather too.
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All of these symptoms are a sure sign that your dog needs some help! Be careful to get this fixed before it affects both ears since symptoms get worse over time. Your dog might swing their head widely in this case or move unsteadily. In the worst case scenario, they can even go deaf.
- If your dog scratches or rubs its ears more than usual
- Shakes or swings its head
- Seems reluctant or hesitant to chew
- Redness, swelling or presence of an odor
Home Remedies for Dog Ear Infection
It’s difficult to know how to get rid of a dog’s ear infection if you’ve never had to deal with it before. You might think that you need to go to your vet right away, and you really should to get the proper medications, but you can also try home treatment in conjunction with medications from your vet. If you’re wondering what to do for an ear infection, we have all the possibilities right here.
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Clean the Ear
First and foremost: be gentle with home treatment. Anything you do will be a little painful since your dog’s ear is inflamed, so start slow. You don’t have to use the cotton ball for this, but if you don’t want your dog to get solution everywhere when they shake their head, here’s how:
- Fill the ear with a cleaning solution.
- Place a cotton ball in the canal opening.
- Massage the ear at the base.
The cotton ball, despite its simplicity, will keep the fluid in the ear so it can clean the inner ear. It’ll also get any excess solution and debris that works its way out. It’s perfect as long as your dog can tolerate it. You can even do this a few times a day until the ear is clean. After you’re done, just let the dog’s ears dry for around 10 minutes before inputting medication prescribed by your vet. Usually that’ll be ointment or drops, but it may be antibiotics depending on the condition of the ears.
Easy and At-Home
There are a couple homemade solutions which work well when you’re wondering how to treat a dog ear infection rather than how to prevent one. Grab your ingredients and let’s get started.
- Put 6oz of rubbing alcohol onto an applicator.
- Add 1 and ½ teaspoons of boric acid powder, being careful not to get any on hands or clothing.
- Shake it and add 2oz of white vinegar.
- Shake it one more time and add in 1 teaspoon of betadine solution.
- One more shake! Then you can use the solution, but you may want to warm it first.
After all this, just follow our earlier instructions for cleaning. Betadine stains too, so try not to clean out your dog’s ears on the good carpet! You can apply this daily and continue to apply it once every week for maintenance.
Store Bought Home Treatments
In terms of getting a solution at the store instead of making it yourself, there are certainly products you can try. Zymox has been well recommended by pet owners thanks to its lack of mess and easy once-a-day application. It doesn’t need antibiotics prescribed by vets either and can work on its own. We won’t try to sway you one way or the other however, but this is certainly a way to go if you’d rather not make your own. This is probably one of the easiest options if you’re wondering what you can do for a dog ear infection.
Words of Caution
When cleaning your dog’s ear, just like when you clean your ears, there are a few things you need to be aware of. We’re sure you’ve heard that Q-Tips are bad for your ears (and if you haven’t, you have now!), but they aren’t any better for dog’s ears either. They can push that junk deeper into the ear and possibly harm the eardrum. This next one might seem a little obvious, but don’t use anything that will hurt inflamed skin, such as rubbing alcohol. There’s no point in causing your dog more pain if you don’t have to. If you suspect the eardrum may be ruptured already or there are any open wounds, go right to the vet. You might cause your dog a lot of pain otherwise.
Preventing Ear Infections in Your Dog
The best way to fight an ear infection is to stop your dog from getting one in the first place. This obviously doesn’t help much if your dog already has one, but this might help before the next one crops up! Weekly cleanings go a long way, usually with a cleaning solution that you can buy at the pet store or with one of the solutions we mentioned above. There are other dog infection home treatments available too with just a little white vinegar. Just dilute one part vinegar with one part water and follow our instructions for cleaning. Don’t clean the ear too often either though! That can cause more damage if you’re not careful.
Dog ear infections are no laughing matter despite how odd it might seem to watch your dog shake their head back and forth. Make no mistake that the extra scratching and pain is more than uncomfortable for your dog. Harley certainly hated it until I got some home remedies for him and he was good as new! Whether you focus on home remedies or go straight to the vet, it doesn’t need to be difficult to fix up an infection.