Ear infections are one of the most frequent problems suffered by dogs. The curious “L” shape of their ear canals, designed to protect their delicate hearing, is one of the principal reasons they are susceptible to infections. For this reason, long-eared breeds, such as Coker Spaniels, Schnauzers and Basset Hounds, are the canines most prone to developing this problem. Although it is always recommendable to consult a vet before taking action, there exist a number of home remedies to treat ear infections in dogs.
In most cases the infection is caused by mites, yeast or bacteria. These can affect the middle or external ear causing otitis media or otitis externa respectively. If you have any doubts about the health of your dog’s ear, it is advisable to firstly consult a vet before doing anything.
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We should all be able recognise the symptoms that occur when our dog has an ear infection. The first symptoms are usually redness and itching in the ear. Your dog will constantly scratch themselves and the internal ear area will appear red and irritated. Painful swelling and inflammation will then develop in the affected area and your dog will not touch themselves or allow themselves to be touched in that part of their body.
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Some dogs will rub their ears against the ground or a carpet because of the excessive itching. It is also possible that the infected area will emit an unpleasant smell or a yellow substance may even start to run from it. Microorganisms (bacteria, mites, fungi, etc.) change the wax and dirt into unsightly puss and cause a nasty smell.
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Cleansing with vinegar
When a red or brown wax gathers in the dog’s ear it is a sign of a yeast infection. For this problem cleaning is performed with a mixture of white vinegar and water in equal proportion. Place a few drops of the solution in the dog’s ear and gently massage with a cloth soaked in the same solution.
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Cleansing with oils
It is important that you do not clean the ear with vinegar if there is an open wound, as the acid within the vinegar will cause painful stinging. In this case, you can use olive oil, tea tree oil or oils made from almonds or minerals to loosen the wax and relieve the itching.
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To combat the infection you can use a South American plant called pau d’arco, which is known for its antibiotic qualities. It is a substance which prevents the growth of bacteria. Its dye mixed with natural oil will do much to eliminate your dog’s ear infection because of its high concentration of lapachol and vitamin K. The solution will clear the microorganisms and heal the ear wound.
Water with salt
You should mix a teaspoon of salt with some water and then spray it over all of your dog’s body (including its ears) before giving them a bath. This will help tackle any problems with fleas as much as it will prevent any other parasites, such as mites or fungi. Salt is a great disinfectant.
We should make sure our dogs eat healthily in order to strengthen their immune system and give them the ability to better fight infection. By giving your dog a natural and healthy diet that includes vitamin C, you will not only be strengthening their defences but also be helping decrease wax production in their ears.
It is recommendable to regularly cut your dogs hair, above all in the ear area. This is especially the case for breeds that have lots of hair or long ears. A lot of the time, infections occur because hair, wax and dirt gather in the ears of our animals. If we allow this to happen, we are increasing the likelihood that our pet will suffer from some form of otitis.
Prevention is better than the cure. That is why it is advisable to clean your dog with vinegar or oils one or two times a week. This will stop dirt or wax accumulating in their ears. If the infection occurs in the middle ear you should immediately consult a vet. This type of infection can be detected by symptoms such as facial paralysis, pain upon chewing or a lack of balance. You should always take care if your dog is in pain, as it can cause them to become aggressive when you try to touch them.