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Hi Dr. Chris, I have a 3 year old Springer Spaniel named Sophie that keeps shaking her head and scratching her ears. The same thing happened last year and she had an ear infection that got better with medication from my vet. Unfortunately, I can’t afford the cost of a visit to my vet and medication. Is there something I can try at home?
Poor Sophie! It sounds as though your Spaniel has another ear infection or inflammation and since it happened a year ago too, there may be an underlying allergy that is causing this problem.
Ear infections in dogs occur most often due to underlying allergies, just like people that get sinus infections because of underlying allergies. In addition, those long, floppy ears tend to create a dark humid environment that can provide a place for bacteria and yeast to grow when there is increased inflammation in the ear.
Dogs are prone to environmental allergies and food allergies. Food allergies only account for approximately 20 % of all allergy problems in dogs and they tend to cause year round symptoms.
Environmental allergies can be caused by pollens, molds or even indoor allergens such as house dust mites and human dander. Yes, you read that right! Dogs can actually be allergic to people!
If allergy is a cause of Sophie’s ear infection, it is most likely due to a seasonal allergy due to molds that are present in the fall. There are several things that you can do at home to try to get this problem under control.
The first thing you can do is give 10 mg of over the counter Zyrtec every 12-24 hours to help alleviate the underlying allergy symptoms.
Next, look inside the ears and see if there is redness, swelling or discharge in both ears or if just one ear is affected. There is an over- the-counter product, Zymox (click here), that can be very helpful in dogs with ear infections. I have found that this can really improve ear infections whether they are caused by a yeast infection or bacterial infection, as you can see by all the 5 star reviews on Amazon.
If there is a lot of redness and inflammation, get the Zymox with hydrocortisone.
The ear medication should be used once daily for 5 days then every other day for another 5 days. At this point, you can then reduce the use to 2-3 times per week.
I would also recommend that every 3 or 4 days, take a cotton ball and wipe some of the discharge from the ear.
Long term, please keep a close eye on Sophie’s symptoms and at the earliest sign of her shaking her head, you can restart the antihistamine and ear medication.
Good luck with your little girl!
America’s Favorite Dog Veterinarian