Does your dog shake or tilt their head, scratch, or paw at their ears a lot, and has smelly ears, brown gunk, discharge, redness, or swelling inside their ears?
If you answered yes to any or all of the above, then your dog has an ear infection.
Let’s figure out a quick and easy home remedy because the constant scratching, head shaking, and the sound of your dog’s collar and tags are driving you nuts, am I right? Not to mention your dog’s ears are in pain!
I want to first mention that you should always consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns with your dog’s health. They are just a phone call away and can help you make an informed decision when it comes to your dog’s ear infection.
With that said, many vets will prescribe an antibiotic or steroid cream right away. Both of which can have negative side effects and cause additional health problems.
Treating your dog’s ear infection at home
If you are looking for a home remedy for treatment for your dog’s ear infection, you’re in the right place. I’ve been there and have tried just about every natural remedy treatment on my dog, Ginger.
It’s best to start early treatment of your dog’s ear infection before it becomes a severe case.
Here are the best and most common home remedies:
Eco Ears by Vet Organics
I was just about to take my dog to the vet again when I found an over-the-counter dog ear infection medication called Eco Ears by Vet Organics. Six plus years later I still use Eco Ears and is my number one recommendation for cleaning your dog’s ears.
Eco Ears can treat the most common types of ear infections in your dog including yeast infections, bacterial infections, and ear mites.
The best thing that Eco Ears brings relief in 24-48 hours and has a 93.7% success rate! PLUS it’s going to cost you a tiny fraction of what it costs to take your dog to the vet!
After just a few days of using Eco Ears in my dog’s ear infection, I was amazed at how well this stuff really works! Her ears weren’t red anymore and the brown gunk in her ears slowly started to disappear. I was finally able to get her ear infection under control.
Between using the Eco Ears and changing my dog’s diet, we’ve been able to finally control her chronic ear infections.
Here are the ingredients in Eco Ears: Denatured Grain Alcohol, Organic Mullein Leaf Extract, Witch Hazel Extract, Rosemary Extract, Ionic Silver Solution, Boric Acid, Vegetable Glycerin, Tea Tree Oil, Polysorbate 20 (Food Grade).
I wish I had better pictures, but this shows what Ginger’s ears looked like and the amount of brown gunk I cleaned out every day BEFORE using the Eco Ears.
Here is what Ginger’s ears look like today, infection-free! And I owe it all to Eco Ears.
Green Tea Natural Ear Cleaner
Green tea is naturally soothing, apple cider vinegar is an antioxidant and calendula is inflammatory. Mix all these ingredients together and use a syringe to put 1-3 ml into your pet’s vertical ear canal and massage.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Dog Ear Infection
Apple cider vinegar works by killing both yeast and bacteria. Apple cider vinegar is one of the most common and most shared home remedies. I personally don’t recommend apple cider vinegar by itself. It didn’t work for us and if used improperly it could cause more damage.
Do NOT use this remedy if your dog’s ears are red or have open sores. It will burn and be painful for your dog.
Create a mixture of 50% organic apple cider vinegar and 50% water, soak a cotton ball, and clean your dog’s ears.
If you notice your dog in pain or their ears drying out too much, discontinue use and see your vet.
Over-the-counter Topical Medication Options
While I have not tested these, they medicated cleansers come highly recommended by holistic veterinarians.
- Earth Animal Natural Remedies Clean Ears Herbal Ear Wash Cleanser. Ingredients include Chamomile, Calendula in a base of Witch Hazel, Aloe Vera Gel, Grapefruit Seed Extract, Mullein Oil, St. Johnswort and Garlic in a base of Olive Oil.
- Dr. Harvey’s Herbal Dog Ear Wash. Ingredients include Witch Hazel, Organic Aloe Vera Gel, Organic Golden Seal Extract, Organic Calendula Extract, Organic Comfrey Extract, Organic Mullein Extract, St. John’s Wort Extract, Organic Chamomile Extract, Geranium Extract, Polysorbate 20 (Vegetable Source), Catnip Oil, Erigeron Oil, Neem Oil, Citronella Oil, Cedarwood Oil, Geranium Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Organic Rosemary Extract.
- Zymox Plus Advanced Formula. The one active Ingredient is hydrocortisone 1.0%.
Essential Oils for Dog Ear Infections
This essential oil treatment recipe is from Dr. Katie with The Natural Pet Doctor. I have not tried it, but I wholeheartedly trust her with my dog’s health. You can clean and spray your dog’s ears with this treatment solution 2-3 times a day until the infection is gone.
- 10 oz. of distilled water or brewed green tea (cooled)
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
- 5 drops of copaiba essential oil
- 5 drops of frankincense essential oil
- 1 tablespoon of colloidal silver
You can find all of these ingredients and recommended products in my Amazon List: Natural Home Remedies for Dogs with Ear Infections.
Peroxide for Dog Ear Infection
Hydrogen peroxide should NOT be used to treat a dog’s ear infection. It can cause irritation and inflammation of the ear canal and may worsen the infection.
Change Your Dogs Food
In my experience, an ear infection is just the underlying cause of something bigger going on in your dog’s body. In our case, it is allergies that cause the ear infection. If your dog has an underlying health condition it’s important to seek veterinarian care.
When I first learned that our dog Ginger has allergies, I went through an elimination diet and found only one brand of dog food that she could eat without having an allergic reaction. That was 6 or 7 years ago. There are more and more dog food companies making limited ingredient options. But I still find that most of them have additives that her body can’t process.
Food is the best medicine for our bodies and for our dogs too! We’ve been led to believe that a bag of kibble is the best food for our dogs. I am in the process of transitioning all of my dogs to a raw food diet. The more I learn the more believe that raw or fresh food is best and will help our dogs stay healthy and live longer.
Research raw and fresh dog foods and if possible transition your dog to a better quality food.
Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections
- Head shaking
- Redness of the ear
- Dark waxy discharge, looking like brown gunk
- Smelly ears
- Hot ears
- Tilting of head
- Pawing at the ears
Causes of Dog Ear Infections
There are many causes for dog ear infections. Here are some to consider:
- Drug reactions
- Ear Mites
- Diseases such as Autoimmune, Meningitis or Encephalitis
- Disorders such as Thyroid or Endocrine
- Excessive cleaning
- Moisture, leading to bacteria and/or yeast
- Wax buildup
Most Common Types of Dog Ear Infections
Determining the type of ear infection can help determine appropriate treatment. An ear infection can be in the outer ear canal (Otitis externa), middle ear of the ear (Otitis Media), or inner ear canal (Otitis Interna). It can be caused by bacteria, yeast, or both. Dogs with floppy ears, such as basset hounds and cocker spaniels, or a lot of ear hair are more prone to this. The word otitis means inflammation of the ear.
Yeast Ear Infection
These are usually caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the ear. A yeast ear infection in a dog’s ear will produce a dark brown discharge and a distinct, unpleasant odor. The smell is often described as musty, like damp bread, or a bit like a combination of mold and cheese. It’s different from the normal, clean scent of a dog’s ear. If you notice a foul or unusual odor coming from your dog’s ear, it’s a good indicator that there may be an infection.
Bacterial Ear Infection
A bacterial ear infection in a dog’s ear will produce a yellow or greenish discharge and a different odor compared to a yeast infection. The smell is often described as pungent and foul. It can resemble a strong, unpleasant, and sometimes fishy or sour odor. This smell is typically more intense and offensive compared to the odor associated with a yeast infection. If you notice this type of odor coming from your dog’s ear, it’s a sign that there may be a bacterial infection.
Ear mites are usually contracted from environments with poor hygiene and stress, such as animal shelters. They are highly contagious from pet to pet, but not to humans. Ear mites don’t have a noticeable odor by themselves, but if the ear mites cause an ear infection it will have an odor. You will notice a black or brown waxy chunky gunk discharge in your dog’s ears.
How I clean my dog’s ears at home
STEP 1: Soak a cotton ball with a cleaning solution
Because my dog’s ears were filled with brown gunk, I first dipped Q-tips and cotton balls in Eco Ears and cleaned the brown gunk from inside her ear.
Do NOT insert the Q-tips deep into the ear canal, I use the Q-tips to remove the gunk from the crevices around the ear, but never too far inside. The cotton ball can be used to wipe out any discharge inside the ear.
STEP 2: Pour the cleaning solution inside the ear
After removing as much of the gunk inside the ear, I put a small amount of the liquid inside her ear, massage it for a minute, and let her shake her head. I use the cap of the Eco Ears bottle to fill with the liquid to pour inside my dog’s ears. This helps lessen the scariness and noise of the big bottle.
STEP 3: Repeat
VetOrganics recommends continuing for the full 10 days. Even though my dog’s ears looked much better within just a couple of days, I repeated cleaning my dog’s ears twice a day for 10 days.
STEP 4: Maintenance
I clean my dog’s ears once a month for maintenance. Even a quick wipe with a cotton ball just to make sure their ears stay clean and healthy.
When to go to the vet for your dog’s ear infection
It is important to note that I am NOT a veterinarian, so if you have any doubts, please just take your dog to your vet. Or at least call them, a phone call is free and could your mind at ease.
I know you want to know how to treat your dog’s ear infection without a vet, but sometimes we need a professional to help us, especially if your dog has a severe or recurring ear infections. If you can’t afford to take your dog to the vet, I understand… I’ve been there. Try talking to the vet to see if they have any programs to help you.
I’ve taken our dogs to the vet several times, which isn’t cheap. In fact, it was well over $100 for the visit, plus diagnostic tests, and the cost of the prescription ear medication. And after all that, the ear infection would just return or never really go completely away.
My first experience with ear infections was with our lab mix, J.J. To say he was not a fan of the vet is putting it mildly. So, it wasn’t an easy task when I took him in to have his ears checked. If you have a dog like this, you understand how stressful it can be for both the dog and human!
So that’s when my home remedy search started. As I said, I’ve tried everything. Nothing seemed to work, it was a constant battle with recurrent ear infections.
Soon after, we adopted Ginger. She has food and environmental allergies that were the underlying condition of her chronic ear infections. At one point she had a bacterial infection in both ears. I took her to the vet and the same thing, $100+ for the visit and prescription ear medication.
Back to searching for the best treatment options I could do at home, and that is when I found Eco Ears. It’s been more than 6 years and I still use Eco Ears to maintain all of my dog’s ear health.
With all that said, I still think a visit to your veterinarian is an important first step. They will be able to give you the best advice and instructions on how to treat your dog’s ear infection.
And remember, finding the source of the ear infection is just as important as treating it.