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Itchy Ears

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When your dog shakes its head or paws at its ears and you notice a smelly discharge, you know your pet has an ear infection. More often seen in flop-ear breeds, ear infections can be allergic reactions to fleas, food, bacteria, or inhalants..

When your dog shakes its head or paws at its ears and you notice a smelly discharge, you know your pet has an ear infection. More often seen in flop-ear breeds, ear infections can be allergic reactions to fleas, food, bacteria, or inhalants. But chronic infections are common, too.

Ear mites?

Check that your dog doesn’t have ear mites before you treat for an ear infection, though. If you see dark debris with small moving white specks in the ears, insert a dropper full of warm mineral oil or olive oil into the ear and massage so the oil moves down into the ear canal. Your pet will shake its head after treatment and a cotton swab can be used to remove any material from the outer portion of the ear, without probing down into the ear channel. Follow this treatment for three days and then repeat again once a week for four weeks.

Stop Infections Before they Happen

“More often than not,” says naturopathic vet Dr. Martin Goldstein, “chronic ear infections get better or go away when the pet is on a good diet and the metabolic organs are restored to balance.” A natural diet of human-grade ingredients builds the immune system and the pet is less likely to succumb to infections and allergies.

Prevent bacterial and fungal infections in dogs that enjoy swimming by flushing the ears with a warm solution of one-tablespoon (15-ml) freshly squeezed lemon to one-cup (250-ml) water, says Richard Pitcairn, DVM. Use a dropper to fill the ear canal and then massage the ear. If the preparation seems to burn, dilute with more water.

The most important thing is to keep your dogs ears clean. Examine them weekly and use a soft cloth to wipe away any dirt that might have accumulated. To improve air circulation, ask your pet groomer to trim the hair inside the ear.

Treatment Options

The conventional treatment for ear infections includes antibiotics, antifungal drugs, and steroids. These may temporarily clear up the infection for a short time but they inevitably return.

Holistic veterinarians use a much safer approach. They prefer to find and alleviate the underlying cause, thus preventing its recurrence. “You need to look at potential stress factors in addition to considering offending substances in the pet’s diet or environment,” says Paul McCutcheon, DVM. Boarding, new additions to the family, including new pets, and travel can all contribute to a higher stress level in your pet.

If treatment is needed, holistic remedies have shown excellent results. “The traditional herbal remedy of oil of mullein with oil of garlic works equally well with dogs,” says Joseph Demers, DVM. Colloidal silver also works well for uncomplicated ear infections; apply five to six drops in the ear daily for up to 10 days. The natural antibiotic pau d’arco quickly kills fungi and bacteria. Several drops of equal parts of pau d’arco tincture and mineral oil, placed in the pet’s ear at the first sign of infection, can be used two or three times each day for several days.

Prevent itchy ears with good nutrition and regular cleaning; then turn to naturopathic remedies before visiting your veterinarian. Remember that the longer the infection goes untreated, the longer the condition will take to resolve.

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