Ear infections (the medical term for them is otitis externa) were the number 2 reason pet parents took their dogs to the vet last year. If your dog has an ear infection, or gets them regularly, it’s a sign that something is out of balance. And, just like skin allergies, when conventional approaches are used to “treat” them, they tend to come back over and over again. For example, many conventional vets recommend antibiotics for them. But antibiotics, which are broad-spectrum (meaning they kill everything, not just “bad” bacteria) can cause an imbalance in “good” vs. “bad” bacteria that can lead to more ear infections in the future.
Symptoms of ear infections
If you’re wondering if your dog has an ear infection, there are some symptoms you can look out for:
- Tilting or shaking the head
- Brown or reddish discharge inside the ear
- Ear odor
- Redness or swelling in the ear
- Scabs or crusty areas in the ear
Note: Get your dog checked out for a serious infection if you notice any of the above symptoms are accompanied by unusual eye movements, balance issues, or walking in circles.
What causes dog ear infections
Ear infections can be caused by bacterial imbalances, yeast, allergies, or hormone imbalances. In all of these cases, they’re a sign something is out of balance; once it’s brought back into balance (in other words, once you address the root cause), the ear infections will stop.
Stopping chronic ear infections in dogs naturally
If you’re noticing chronic ear infections, there are a few things you can do to help break the cycle:
- Address the diet. Switch your dog to a balanced, varied, raw diet. This can be a good commercial raw diet, a prey model or “frankenprey” diet, a whole prey diet, or any combination thereof.
- Eliminate toxins. This includes antibiotics (remember, they destroy “good” bacteria and cause imbalances that can lead to more ear infections), steroids (which suppress the immune system), and over-the-counter parasite treatments (they’re poisons).
Natural ways to give your dog relief from an ear infection
If your dog has an ear infection, there are some non-toxic things you can do to give him relief quickly, while you change his diet and lifestyle to stop the chronic ear infections. These include:
- Apple cider vinegar. One caveat to this one: don’t use apple cider vinegar if your dog’s ears are inflamed, because it will be too painful for them. However, if they aren’t red and inflamed, the apple cider vinegar won’t hurt them, so mix apple cider vinegar with equal parts distilled water. Soak a cotton ball in the solution, then use it to gently clean your dog’s ear. Don’t push the cotton ball deeply into the ear canal, or use a Q-tip in the canal. At best, you’ll push dirt and bacteria deeper into the ear. At worst, you’ll rupture your dog’s eardrum.
- Calendula. You can use this amazing herb for tons of things, including ear problems. You can get a pre-made infusion, soak a cotton ball with it, and gently apply it to your dog’s ear flap.
- Coconut oil. Ah, coconut oil. Antibacterial, anti-fungal, and all-around amazing. With this one, try simmering 2 tablespoons in a saucepan (on low heat). You can add in two fresh garlic cloves (they’re also anti-bacterial). Once the oil is liquid, let it cool enough so it won’t burn your dog’s ears but not so much it’s no longer liquid, then dip a cotton ball in the mixture and gently apply to your dog’s ear.
- Essential oils. Dilute your chosen oil with equal part olive oil or fractionated coconut oil. Dip a cotton swab in the mixture and gently apply it to your dog’s ear flap. Some good oils to try are Myrrh, Thyme, Wintergreen, Helichrysum, Mountain Savory, Basil, ImmuPower, Melrose, Thieves, Purification, and Exodus II. Note I only use Young Living oils for my dogs, myself, and my family.
It’s best to apply any of the above ideas 2 or 3 times per day for about a week. If you don’t see any improvement, see a holistic veterinarian or a certified animal naturopath.
What natural remedies work for you to solve your dog’s ear infections? Let us know in the comments below!
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