Many dogs suffer from painful and unpleasant ear conditions for years on end. That’s because owners struggle to find a long-term solution.
In fact, ear infections are one of the top reasons why dogs visit the vet. But taking a holistic approach to the problem could help stop the problems sooner. It considers your dog’s environment, food and lifestyle.
Ear problems often go hand in hand with allergies and sensitivities. In fact, dogs who are prone to itchy skin and hot spots frequently have ear issues as well. As with most skin conditions, ear problems are often a sign of other issues.
Certain types of bacteria and yeast are naturally present throughout the body … including the ears. They’re part of the balance of life. But when the balance gets disrupted, they can grow out of control and cause an ear infection.
A conventional approach uses antibiotics as well as steroids and other medications. These can provide some immediate relief but they aren’t an ideal solution. That’s because these products work by suppressing the symptoms and the immune system. This often makes them a temporary fix. They don’t actually offer a true, long-term cure.
Ear issues are often caused by autoimmune disorders. So drugs that suppress the immune system will appear to work. The inflammation and redness will disappear for a short while. But the logic of suppressing the immune system may not be the best approach. That’s because it leaves your dog susceptible to …
- More sinister illnesses
5 Ways To Achieve And Maintain Healthy Ears
To help resolve your dog’s ear problems and keep them away long term, there are a few areas you should focus on.
1. Avoid Regular Cleaning
Most dogs’ ears don’t need regular cleaning. In fact, it’s better to leave normal, healthy ears alone and not attempt to clean them for the sake of it. Cleaning can disrupt the delicate pH balance and environment in already healthy ears.
Some dogs with chronic issues need occasional cleaning to remove debris. Others may need special drying products to remove excess moisture after a swim.
Minor amounts of debris are easily removed with a clean, dry cotton pad alone. If you have to, use a little organic witch hazel. This is the best way to maintain 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.
2. Adjust Your Dog’s Diet
A grain-free diet is almost always helpful in combating chronic yeast infections. Grains and other starchy foods contain natural sugars that yeasts can feed on, which causes the yeast to multiply. In most mild cases, eliminating grains and cleaning built up debris will set your dog up for success.
A raw or natural, minimally processed diet can be very helpful in combating ear problems. This kind of diet will provide nutrition the immune system needs to function well. The goal is to remove …
- Toxic chemical preservatives
- Excessive gluten
Doing this can have a marvelous effect on most of the body, including the ears.
3. Manage Infections
Altering the pH of the ear is an important step in combating yeast and bacterial infections. Many natural products are available but you can also make ear cleaner at home. It will work double duty to correct the pH and kill any contaminants.
Mix 1 cup of lukewarm water and 2 tablespoons of one or more of the following:
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Apple cider vinegar
- White vinegar
- Plantain tincture
Use this mixture to wipe out excess debris from visible areas of the ear.
You can use topical care routinely, or just as needed. Apply the product to a cotton ball and very gently wipe out excess wax and buildup.
Caution: It’s essential not to push anything into the ear canal beyond the visible outer folds of the ear. This can cause extreme and very painful damage to the delicate internal workings of the ear. You also don’t want to pour large amounts of topical solutions in the ears. A small amount on a cotton ball is usually enough. Don’t use Q-tips!
4. Herbal Remedies
There are a few different herbs you can use topically to try and give your dog added relief.
Calendula or comfrey lotions are nice products for topical use. They have wonderful healing properties.
Products containing tea tree oil are helpful. But tea tree oil can be toxic for some dogs. So consider products with tea tree’s slightly less intense cousin, Niaouli.
Gentian violet is a purple dye that’s used as a stain for microscopy. It’s also used medically as a bactericide, fungicide, and anthelmintic. Gentian is superb for cleaning the ears. (Though it will turn your dog’s ears purple!)
Mullein oil is also an excellent ear product. Many holistic veterinarians recommend it for basic ear infections.
5. Homeopathic Remedies
There are also several homeopathic remedies that can help relieve ear infections. Pick the remedy that best fits your dog’s symptoms from the list below.
You can buy homeopathic remedies at a local health food store or you can order online. You’ll need a 30C or 200C potency.
To work properly, homeopathic remedies have to dissolve on your dog’s gums. You can place 2-3pellets inside your dog’s cheek or you can give them is as a liquid:
- Add 2 or 3 pellets or a few granules to a small glass of filtered or spring water. Try to avoid touching the pellets with your hands.
- Stir for about 20 minutes … the pellets may not dissolve completely.
- Use a dropper and put some of the liquid on your dog’s gums.
- Store in a dark place. It will keep for 2 or 3 days. (Don’t put it in the fridge)
- Stir the water again before every dose.
How Often To Dose
First, be careful not to touch the pellets with your hands, as that can negate the remedy. Also, give the remedies at least ½ hour away from food.
Start by giving 2-3 doses at half-hour intervals. Then wait to see if your dog improves. If he feels better, don’t redose unless you see him plateau or backslide. Then redose once.
If there’s no change after a few hours (up to a day), then it’s time to try a different remedy. Choose the next best remedy that matches your dog’s symptoms.
Remedies For Ear Infections
Pulsatilla is helpful for acute flare-ups with sensitivity, redness and a yellowish discharge. Pulsatilla animals like to sit near open windows, hate getting their paws wet and won’t go out in the rain. They also tend to have a very sweet (and slightly needy) disposition.
Hepar sulph is useful for irritable animals who don’t like to have their inflamed ears touched.
Sulphur is often recommended for long term, stubborn skin conditions. It also has some success in ear infection treatment. Excessive scratching or pawing at the ears may be an indicator for Sulphur.
Silica is worth considering to help ‘push out’ a foxtail or other foreign object form the ears.
Phosphorus is a good option for those dogs who suffer with cuts or hemotomas to the pinna. It’s an excellent remedy for many types of bleeding.
Tellurium is helpful for animals that have a discharge that causes hair loss around and under the ears. The ears are extremely sensitive in Tellurium patients, and the discharge may smell fishy.
Treating ear problems can be a very frustrating exercise … especially when they are stubborn and persistent. Deep seated infections can take a very long time to truly and permanently resolve. Natural remedies and a holistic approach that considers diet and lifestyle can be pivotal in achieving a lasting cure.