Dogs are wonderful pets that bring a lot of joy and happiness to the family. However, when you suddenly notice that Rover is scratching his ear, you might have an ear infection on your hands.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to bring your pet to the vet, especially during the holidays when most clinics are closed. As you well know, emergency vet visits might cost a lot of money, which you might not have at the moment. But you can’t leave your poor animal suffering either.
So, today I’m going to talk about how to treat a dog ear infection without a vet. But first, let’s discuss how and when a dog gets an ear infection.
What causes a dog ear infection?
The dog’s ear is structured similarly to a human one. It has an external, middle, and inner canal and infections can occur in any one of these.
Most commonly, infections affect the external ear canal, and they are the easiest to treat. You can safely try to deal with them at home as long as there are no complications.
Middle ear infections are more serious than external ones because they can damage the hearing. Inner ear ones are the most dangerous because they can affect the brain and cause neurological problems. So, I wouldn’t recommend that you attempt to deal with them at home.
Instead, if you suspect that the infection is severe, you make a consultation with a veterinarian as soon as possible.
So, what causes ear infections? In most cases, the culprits are bacteria or yeast. Let’s me explain it in details.
Usually, bacteria live in the ears as well as on the skin without causing problems. However, under certain circumstances, these microorganisms start to reproduce quickly and lead to inflammation.
For example, if your dog swims in a pond with contaminated water and this water enters his ears, it’s very likely that he will get a bacterial ear infection. Also, a dog with a compromised immune system might also lead to bacteria overgrowth.
Yeast also lives in your dog’s ears without problems until something triggers its growth. It might be a stressed immune system or a hormonal imbalance, but most often it’s the result of a moist environment.
In addition to this, you have to be careful with a breed with floppy ears because they are prone to infections. That’s because the floppy ears trap moisture inside the ears, which makes them the perfect environment for the bacteria to thrive.
Other possible reasons for ear infection include:
Ear mites – tiny parasites that lead to a build-up of dark wax
Thyroid disease – should be ruled out if your dog suffers from frequent ear infections
Foreign object in the ear
Reaction to medicine
What are the symptoms of a dog ear infection?
The symptoms of ear infections are often clear enough, and you can’t miss them. For example, you’ll notice that:
The dog is shaking its head
It’s scratching/pawing at the ear constantly
A strong odor coming from the ear
Lack of balance
How to treat a dog ear infection without a vet?
You can deal with minor ear infections at home. However, I strongly urged that you speak with your vet before you try any of these home remedies for dog ear infections. Your dog might have a condition responsible for frequent ear infections, and you’d be only making it worse.
Also, if you don’t see any improvement in a couple of days after you start the treatment, it’s time to make an appointment.
#1 Apple cider vinegar kills bacteria
I probably won’t surprise anybody by saying that apple cider vinegar is a powerful home remedy for all kinds of conditions.
As it happens, it could also help you treat your dog’s ears when they get infected. That’s because the apple cider vinegar has potent antibacterial properties and acidic nature that will restore the natural balance inside the ear.
What’s more, the apple cider vinegar will help you get rid of any debris, dirt, or wax that might have built-up inside the ear canal.
Apple cider vinegar
Mix water and apple cider vinegar in equal proportion in the bowl.
Fill a syringe with the cleaning mixture.
Get the dog at a time when Rover is feeling comfortable, and he is not agitated or troubled.
Ask someone to help you keep the dog calm while you’re applying the solution if you can’t keep Rover still.
Grab the syringe and squirt the liquid inside the ear. If you have a dog with floppy ears, you’ll have to open the ear flap.
Keep your dog calm because Rover is probably going to react badly if this is his first ear cleaning.
Massage the base of the ear for 15-20 seconds to dislodge dirt and debris.
Open the ear flap and use the cotton balls to soak the liquid and the dirt.
Continue to soak the mixture using cotton balls, but do not push the balls deep inside the ear. Stop when you feel any resistance.
When the ear is dry and clean, you can
Release the dog and stand aside quickly. Rover is going to shake his head to get rid of any excess liquid.
Notes: Do not ever use Q-tips to clean a dog’s ears. You’ll push the dirt and debris further inside the ear, which might lead to a more serious infection. If you don’t have a syringe, you can use cotton balls to apply the solution inside the ear.
#2 Mullein it beneficial for dogs
Another safe product to use to treat dog ear infection without a vet is mullein. It’s an herb that has many benefits for a dog from relieving respiratory issues to treating the common cold and mild ear infections. That’s because mullein flowers have anti-parasitic and anti-inflammatory properties, which are exactly what you need for an ear infection and ear mites.
What’s more, using mullein will lessen the pain caused by the infection and relieve your pet’s distress.
A glass jar
Get some mullein leaves and put them in a jar.
Cover with olive oil.
Chop one garlic cloves.
Add the chopped garlic to the mix.
Close the jar and let the solution sit for two-three weeks.
Then strain the mullein mixture and warm some of it.
Get somebody to help you keep the dog still.
Use a dropper to put several warm drops of the oil into the dog’s ear.
Don’t forget to massage the base of the ear for a couple of seconds.
Clean the excess liquid with a cotton ball.
In general, mullein is safe for dogs and should not cause any negative reactions. However, I would recommend that you do a patch test beforehand to ensure that there won’t be any allergic reaction.
In addition to this, I recommend that you buy high-quality mullein leaves. You can find them online or go to your local hear shop. What’s more, there are some ready to buy cleaning solutions containing mullein such as this one.
#3 Oregano oil is useful for relieving dog ear pain
If you’re looking for a way to treat a dog ear infection with a vet’s help, you might try oregano oil. It has potent antibacterial properties, which makes it an excellent choice for dealing with ear infections. What’s more, it’s safe to use for dogs, and it can be beneficial for protection against bacteria and viruses.
Aloe vera juice
A cotton ball
Mix ½ oz of pure aloe vera juice and one drop of oregano oil in a bowl.
Soak a cotton ball and apply it to the inside of your dog’s ear.
Clean the inside carefully with the cotton ball.
Use a fresh cotton ball to soak any excess liquid.
For external wounds, you can mix oregano oil and coconut oil and apply it to the affected spot.
You should know that oregano oil is a strong substance. As such, you should never apply it directly on your dog’s skin. First, you have to dilute it with a carrier oil such as olive oil or coconut oil. I also recommend doing a patch test to determine if your dog is allergic to the oregano oil.
Some pet owners also comment that they have added a few drops of oregano oil to their dog’s food to boost their immune system. However, I advise that you speak with your vet first.
#4 Garlic oil fights bacteria
As you already know, garlic has a lot of health benefits for humans and pets alike. What’s more, it has anti-fungal and antibacterial properties, which makes it perfect for treating dog ear infections. In addition to this, you can buy a ready garlic oil solution or make one.
A glass jar
Crush eight garlic cloves. Use the back of the knife to do it.
Then peel the cloves.
Put the crushed garlic cloves in the jar and add two cups of olive oil.
Put the jar in the refrigerator and wait three days.
Pour some garlic oil in a bowl.
Soak a cotton ball and use it to swap the inside of your dog’s ear.
Repeat several times until you dislodge the dirt and wax.
Let the dog go.
In general, garlic oil is safe to apply. However, if your dog consumes raw garlic in large quantities, it might be toxic. So, avoid giving your dog garlic to eat if you haven’t talked with a vet.
What’s more, do not use the same remedy for cats. They are much more sensitive to garlic than dogs, and you can poison them by mistake.
# 5 Calendula speeds up healing
Last, but not least, if you want to treat a dog ear infection without a vet, you can use calendula. That’s an herb that has a soothing effect on wounds and inflammations, and it promotes healing. What’s more, thanks to its antibacterial properties, it eliminates bacteria.
Chopped garlic cloves
A glass jar
Fill a jar with some calendula flowers and add olive oil until it covers the flowers.
Put one or two chopped garlic cloves to the mix.
Store the mixture for a couple of days and then strain it.
Warm some of the solution.
Get the dog comfortable and apply several drops of the calendula mixture in the ear.
Use a cotton ball to dislodge the dirt and clean the inside of the ear.
Release the dog.
Do not use calendula on pregnant animals. Since calendula contains a small amount of salicylic acid, you shouldn’t use it on cats without speaking to a vet.
How to prevent dog ear infections?
I assume that some of you have never cleaned their dog’s ears before. That’s something that new dog owners rarely think about. But it’s one of the best ways to prevent future ear infections and something you’ll have when you have a dog with floppy ears.
Here are some tips on dog ear infection prevention:
- Make sure that the ears are dry by cleaning them at least once a month. Breeds predisposed to ear infection should be cleaned every two weeks.
- Talk with your vet about plucking ear hair. If your dog has frequent ear infections, plucking the ear hair might be one way to put a stop on them.
- Consider supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids to boost your dog’s immune system.
- Check the ears periodically for dirt, debris, and ear mites.
- When your dog goes for a swim, make sure that afterward, the ears are completely dry.
- Feed your dog high-quality dog food so that Rover can get all the necessary vitamins and minerals he needs.
Dog ear infections are easy to treat when you catch them on time. So, pay careful attention to your dog’s behavior and if you have any suspicions that Rover might have an infected ear, start the treatment as soon as possible.
However, if your dog has some underlying condition or you’re not certain that the ear infection is caused by bacteria/yeast, please contact your veterinarian.
What do you think about these ways how to treat dog ear infection without a vet? How do you deal when your dog has ear problems? Share your experience with us in the comment section.