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Recognizing, Treating, and Preventing Canine Ear Infections

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All dogs tend to have a natural amount of yeast and bacteria that grow in their ears. But, without regular cleanings and proper ear care, an infection can take place – especially in our floppier-eared friends. A yeast or bacterial overgrowth can result in an intense irritation for your pooch. The moment you discover the early signs that your pet is uncomfortable or in pain, it is your responsibility to deal with the situation properly. After all, your four legged friend relies on you completely.

Warning Signs of Canine Ear Infection

  • Discharge in the ears (usually yellow and pasty, or black and chunky)
  • Noticeably strong or chalky odor
  • Excessive rubbing or scratching of the ears
  • Swelling and redness in the inner ear flap and canal
  • Tendency to shake or tilt the head to the side
  • Pain or oversensitivity to the touch of Fido’s ears
  • Unusual irritable behavior

While bacterial infections normally involve redness, swelling, discharge, pungent smell, or pain; yeast infections, on the other hand, are often recognized by redness, swelling, discharge, chalky smell, dryness, scaling, and intense itching. The irritation can also spread to the other parts of a dog’s body like his face and feet.

Treatment Options and Preventive Techniques

· Before you assume that your pet is inflicted with ear infection, you need to rule out first the possibility of the symptoms being likely caused by ear trauma, fleas, ear mites, tumors, or foreign bodies.

· If you bring your dog to the clinic, your vet will most likely use a device called an otoscope to look down into your dog’s ear canal and find out the exact degree of inflammation your pooch is dealing with. A sample of the bacterial or yeast overgrowth may be pulled out using a cotton swab. The specimen will then be smeared onto a slide, stained, and examined under a microscope in order to determine whether the infection is caused by yeast or bacteria.

· For bacterial ear infection, your vet will most likely prescribe medications to kill the bacteria and restore your dog’s ear health. Common treatments include Otomax ear drops, Epi-Otic flush, Cephalexin antibiotic, and maybe Temeral-P which is a kind of steroid. For yeast infections, he might provide you with Mometamax ear drops, Epi-Otic flush, or even Temeral-P.

· To help you keep your pooch from developing any of the two types of ear infections, keep your dog’s ears clean, dry, a free of any debris. And, provide him with high-quality, healthy diet as well as adequate exercise. As much as possible, dry your pooch’s ears each time he has been exposed to water. There are specially formulated ear cleansers for dogs that both clean and dry out the ear canal which are a necessity for dogs that swim often and much.

· Most dogs will develop an ear infection or two in their lifetime. However, if your dog tends to develop these often, discuss possible food allergies with your veterinarian, as this is a known cause of frequent and recurring ear infections.

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  1. Avatar Of Diane Purcell

    Diane Purcell


    If your dog is prone to ear infections that are yeast infections, you can try non-fat greek yogurt added to a meal each day. (Start slow – some dogs do not handle dairy well) It sure helps to keep my dog from repetitive ear infections. Using vinegar to clean the ears is a great tip! It has the ability to balance ph. (works for humans who get chronic ear infections as well!) Also, don’t use a qtip and dig in there – you can cause more harm than good. As always, vet check first. If it’s a very bad infection,your vet can flush the ears, treat them topically, and also give you an antibiotic.

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  3. Avatar Of Alice Miller Alice Miller says:

    Don’t do what I did years ago to my lab. I used hydrogen peroxide thinking it would help. She rain through the house dragging her ear on the floor. Can you image a dog trying to get rid of that bubbling sound? While funny for a moment, it was a very big mistake!

  4. Avatar Of Tab



    I will try the lukewarm water & vinegar method.
    I have 3 labs that are continuously in the pool and have constant swimmers ear infections. Can’t keep them out of the pool because it’s their backyard.
    Any other suggestions?

  5. Avatar Of Sylvia



    I clean both of my dogs ears with a cup of lukewarm water and 2tablespoons of vinegar. Works like a dream. If they have an active infection(which is the only time I do it) you need to clean it several times a day for 2-3 days until it’s gone.

  6. Avatar Of Travis



    This is all great information. I have a Shih-Tzu who came to me with a chronic ear problem, and nothing the previous owners gave me has worked, nor have I had much luck up to now. I have been giving him a probiotic with his food daily, and am thrilled to hear about Zymox.. the science is sound, so I’m going to try it! I will keep you posted how well this works with little Buddy.

  7. Avatar Of Marion



    I give my dogs probiotics the day before a bath and for two days after a bath. These seem to prevent the yeast infection that are indicative of breeds with long narrow ear canals and floppy ears. Maybe this will help another dog…

  8. Avatar Of Janet



    I have witch hazel in a spray bottle. It helps a lot when I can get it in the Jake’s ear. Also, ditto for kid’s diaper wipes for cleaning out the ear.

    • Avatar Of Barbara Barbara says:

      Do you spray full strength witch hazel or do you mix water with it? My Yorkies have a lot of ear infections, so wanted to try your suggestion. Thanks

  9. Avatar Of Joann Mcroy

    Joann McRoy


    This sight is helpful.

  10. Avatar Of Deb



    I love Zymox. It works better than what I got from the vet and I get it online. My shih-tzus get yeast infections in their ears.

    • Avatar Of Fran



      My Golden has had ear infections most of her 10 year life, and I have had the best results from using Zymox whenever she begins to show signs of infection. You can get it on Amazon. I’m telling you, it is a miracle…used enzymes to rid the infection. My vet has been so impressed with it, she is mentioning it to other patients.

  11. Avatar Of Bill



    If you look at most ear cleaning products on the market, the main ingredient is witch hazel. A little on a cotton ball is the most effective and cheapest way to clean your pets ears.

  12. Avatar Of Amber



    Elliot our mini Dachshund has had problems with his ears from the time we brought him home. His vet had given us a few different treatments but we were never really able to find what was causing the discharge and odor and the remedies never worked for long. Then we switched from canned food (really good canned food) to home cooked dog food using human quality meets, grains and vegetables, withing a few weeks his ears cleared up and the problem has not come back.

    • Avatar Of Sue Harrod

      Sue Harrod


      What kind of quality meat, grains, erotic. Are you referring to? Both labs have terrible ear troubles all the time. Switched to very high quality hard food, but what about the soft food?

      • Avatar Of Paula Harmer

        Paula harmer


        Do a bit of research into raw meat and meaty bones diet. Then switch. My dogs both have raw diet. Dogs don’t want cooked food except occasionally as an extra tidbit. There are no allergies associated with raw feeding and it makes rapid improvement in skin, coat, teeth and allergies.

  13. Avatar Of Raenal



    I have a lab who had on-going horrible ear infections. Switching his food to very high quality did the trick (no corn, wheat or soy) And we also used every striods and drops and medicine and Rx cleaner on the market — $$$$$$. Now, I clean his ears every day and they are gorgeous inside — and what we have come to use (based on the suggestion of a friend) is the $2 bottle of multipurpose saline solution (contact cleaner) from Walmart. The actual walmart brand. My vet is amazed, and I can’t say this is officially medically recommended, but it really does the trick! Have been doing this for probably 2 years now with great results.

    • Avatar Of Karen Gwinner

      Karen Gwinner


      Just a caution that too many steroids can cause Cushing’s Disease.

    • Avatar Of Linda



      We have used meds from the vet. and nothing helps changed her food to natural balance this seems to help but in order to clean out her ears it takes 2 of us and a muzzle she is 16 lb JRT/ CHIC. So I am gonna try your remedy. ty

  14. Avatar Of Chantelle



    Can anyone recommend some good ear cleaning/drying solutions? The one that I purchased from my Vet has a strong menthol smell, which my boxer HATES! As soon as he even sees the bottle – he hightails it out of sight!!

    • Avatar Of Judy



      I have used vinegar.. on cotton balls.

    • Avatar Of Cheryl



      I just now saw this post, however, I’ve used a solution of 50% isopropyl alcohol and 50% white vinegar for years for our dogs and cats. A vet recommended it many years ago. It works well.

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