One of the most common reasons dogs are seen by veterinarians is due to ear infections. However, you can safely and effectively treat ear infections at home with a healthy diet and using my Essential Oil Dog Ear Wash Spray for Ear Infections (avoiding the hassle, cost and toxic side effects)
What are ear infections an how do dogs get them?
Canine ear infections are most often caused by bacteria or yeast overgrowth. Ear mites, growing hair, trapped water, tumor or foreign body in the ear canal can also lead to an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. Infections may also develop when allergies, immune system disorders, hypothyroidism or an excessive amount of ear was are present.
Frequent bathing, swimming and using incorrect cleansing methods can also lead to infections. Because a dog’s ear canals plunge downward then horizontally from the ear opening, it is difficult for caught debris or water to be released as it must work it’s way upward to escape this makes dogs especially susceptible to ear infections (even more so with floppy ear breeds).
Also a diet that contains grains (corn, wheat, soy, etc) and more than moderate amounts of carbohydrates can feed yeast infections and also cause chronic inflammation and damage to their immune system, setting a a predisposed dog for even more ear infections.
How can I tell if my dog has an ear infection?
The following symptoms may indicate your dog has an ear infection:
- Ear Scratching
- Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
- Foul or offensive odor coming from the ear
- Crusted or scabby skin on or near the ear
- Hair loss around the year
- Wiping or rubbing their ears on the floor, ground or furniture
- Head shaking or tilting their head
- Loss of balance, walking in circles
- Unusual eye movements
- Hearing loss
In conventional veterinary medicine, infected ears are often treated with oral antibiotics, tropical drugs or even surgery. The problem is that none of these treatments is a cure for the root cause of the infection, they are only treating/masking the symptoms. As soon as the dog eat another wrong food, goes for a swim, has a build up of was or in some way triggers another reoccurrence, the infection is back and most often worse.
Many ear infections, especially in puppies, stem from immune system imbalances caused by vaccinosis, a reaction to their vaccinations. They can cause mucoid discharge in puppies. For example, it’s not uncommon for puppies to have discharge from their eyes or develop conjunctivitis after the distemper vaccine.
NOTE: If your dog develops a suspected ear infection for the first time, or if it’s contain is especially severe/painful, seek veterinarian care to rule out a tumor, polyp or some other issue that requires medical attention.
An under active immune system can lead to a yeast overgrowth, because it can’t keep things in balance. The other end of the spectrum is an over active immune response where allergies are present, and can also attribute to a yeast overgrowth.
Dogs with allergies (a sign of a damaged/overactive immune system) are typically prescribed steroid therapy to shut off the immune systems’ response. This treatment does not address the underlying cause of the allergy it only stops the unwanted symptom. When your dog’s immune system is turned off with drugs, it can not do it’s job of regulation and balancing so a yeast overgrowth continues.
When conventional vets see dogs with allergies and possibly a secondary skin infection they will prescribe antibiotics. Antibiotics are well-known to destroy ALL GOOD BACTERIA while attempting to kill the bad bacteria. These antibiotics most often make a bad situation worse in the long run.
Another reason an allergic dog can end up with a yeast overgrowth, is he can develop an allergy to the yeast itself. Intra-dermal tests often reveal that a dog is having an allergic response to it’s own natural flora. This situation can be very problematic because the dog’s allergic response can affect his whole body. These dogs are often plagued with red, inflamed and irritated skin over their entire body.
Signs and symptoms of a yeast overgrowth
A definitive diagnosis by a vet of a yeast infection is accomplished by either a cytology (looking at a skin swab under a microscope) or by culturing (submitting a sterile saw of the skin to a lab where the cells are grown and identified in a petri dish).
As a pet owner, you’ll be able to tell if your dog has a yeast overgrowth/infection just by it’s smell. Yeast has a very characteristic odor, some people think it smells like moldy-yeast bread, cheese popcorn or corn chips. In fact people often refer to a yeast infection of a dog’s paws as “Frito Feet.” It’s a pungent, musty unpleasant smell. Another sign of a yeast infected dog is intense itching.
How to cure a Yeast Overgrowth
It’s rare that a dog has yeast in just one spot, it will most likely be present in more than just one ear. Both ears, ears and paws, all four paws, if your dog has a reoccurring ear infections or if his entire body has some symptom of yeast overgrowth, you have no choice but to proactively address his diet.
Yeast, just like all other living organisms, need a source of energy. Carbohydrates are their fuel and by eliminating them from your dog’s diet you can effectively treat and prevent a yeast overgrowth. You will want to avoid any product containing honey, high fructose corn syrup, white/sweet potato, carrots, wheat, rice, corn – essentially feeding them a low carbohydrate (high fat & protein diet)
Changing your dog’s diet is the most critical step you can take to having healthy dog!
And it is why we’ve chosen to specifically feed our dogs a raw diet (learn more HERE) If you aren’t interested in feeding a raw diet, you can find many options for grain free dog foods.
Not every ear infection is an “infection” sometimes it’s a infestation. Ear Mites are tiny parasites that eat ear wax and oils in the ear and fill the ear canal with black waste. The problem is most common in dogs from pet shops, puppy mills, shelters or breeders with unclean environments.
Ear mites are species specific. Feline ear mites prefer cats’ ears and canine ear mites prefer dogs’ ears, however it is possible in a mixed pet household for both dogs and cats to be infected with the same type of ear mites. The ear mite bites to the ear tissue can also ulcerate the ear canal and lead to secondary infections.
How to keep your Dog’s Ears Healthy
Healthy ears start with a weekly maintenance exams and cleaning with cotton balls and cotton swabs. The canine ear canal isn’t straight like our ears canal and this makes it less likely to cause damage while cleaning (remember how the canine ear canal changes direction, it’s almost a 90 degree angle)
Lift the dog’s ear flap while holding a cotton ball between your thumb and index finger, push the cotton downward into the ear’s opening and scoop upward. Use a few dry cotton balls to clean out any normal waxy buildup.
Next put a cotton swab gently vertical into the ear canal until it stops, then scoop upward while rubbing it against the walls of the vertical canal. Repeat as needed depending on how much debris is in the ear.
After the excess debris is removed from the ear, lightly spray (3-4 times) the inside of your dog’s ear flap or spray a cotton ball with my Homemade Essential Oil Dog Ear Wash Spray (recipe at the end of this post) and wipe around and it to the ear canal.
You do not want to drip oils or cleaners into the ear canal because they will end up collecting on the ear drum where they can cause infection. By using a light spray mist you can lightly distribute the essential oil blend without over saturating the area.
Essential Oil Dog Ear Wash Spray Recipe:
In a 2 ounce glass spray bottle, combine:
- 15 drops Lavender Essential Oil
- 15 drops Geranium Essential Oil
- 15 drops Frankincense, Serrata Essential Oil
- 15 drops Basil Essentail Oil
- Fractionated Coconut Oil to fill the bottle about 3/4 of the way full
Shake well. Use as described above.
When using essential oils, it’s imperative to use high quality oils. Do not use cheap oils! Click HERE to learn the 5 Reasons I Switched to Rocky Mountain Oils.