HOW TO TREAT My Dog's Ear Infection Without Going to the Vet?

25 comments Apr 2, 2024by Denise Lessard

If you're still wondering about how to treat dog ear infection without vet until now, then you've come to the right place.

Besides helping you become familiar with detecting the signs of dog ear infections, this blog post will also get you in on the natural ear infection remedies that you can go for when this health problem gets in the picture.

While this may sound surprising, your canine family member will be at risk of dog's ear infections at some point of his life. This condition typically affects the middle and inner ear, but also targets the ear flap and ear canals in some cases. These can even escalate to recurring ear infections if not given the right care and attention, too.

How about we start things off by finding out what dog ear infection exactly is?


A Quick Walkthrough on Dog Ear Infections

Like its name implies, a dog ear infection is a health issue that affects a dog's ear. It is a condition that can strike at the outer ear, the middle and inner ear, the ear drum, the ear canal as well as the ear flap. Dog ear infections are considered as one of the most common disorders among dogs.

I'd just like to point out that while a dog ear infection may not be that unusual, it is very important that you must have the know-how in treating dog ear infections the right way. There are even natural home remedies for dog ear infections that you can include in your home pet care checklist!

What you don't want to happen is allowing these health problems to progress into chronic ear infections sooner or later, which can have a significant impact on your pet's overall quality of life. Recurring ear infections are not just very uncomfortable for your dog, but can also lead to possible hearing loss if not dealt with accordingly.


Is Dog Ear Infection Painful for your Pet?

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The short answer is yes.

Most ear infections in dogs can cause a lot of discomfort regardless of whether they began in the outer ear canal or the inner ear. And this becomes even more agonizing for your canine family member when they develop into severe infections. This is why knowing how to prevent ear infections and using natural remedies is a must for pet owners.

Do you remember having an ear infection yourself? Personally, I have a vivid memory of the time my left ear got infected, because it was oh so incredibly painful. Think about the time you've had an ear infection and now you have a comparison with how your pet feels when he's going through the same condition.

It’s a similar discomfort that our dogs experience when they have an ear infection. Of course, they can’t tell us this, but there are several symptoms that may indicate that they are in pain in this part of their body.

Is your dog's ear swollen?  Does he has ear discharge? We will go over these symptoms in detail in just a few moments, as well as the causes of dog ear infections. And like I emphasized earlier, we're also going to discuss the right natural remedies for dog ear infections while at it.


A Reminder for Pet Parents with regard to Dog Ear Infections

One possible reason why you're checking out this blog post is that you're on the lookout for a reliable home remedy for dog ear infection. Sure there are lots of conventional treatments for ear infections in dogs, but did you know that there are natural remedies for this health problem, too?

If you're anything like most dog owners, chances are you will find yourself treating ear infections without having to go to the vet more than keeping this condition at bay. Given that the whole thing be can rather costly (and the vet's clinic is not our doggies’ favorite place anyway), having a few go-to natural remedies for dog ear infection is essential.


A Common Indicator of Dog Ear Infection you may be Overlooking

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Does your dog keep shaking his head? While head shaking isn't automatically an indicator that your pooch has an ear infection, it can be already a tell-tale sign that your pet may be suffering from this health issue.

You may not know it—like many pet parents do—but this might suggest that your canine family member possibly has an ear infection. Technically speaking, a dog's ear infection is generally referred to as "otitis."

Depending on where the ear infection began or is developing, this condition can either pertain to otitis media or otitis externa. Otitis media relates to dog ear infections that attack the middle ear, while otitis externa strikes in the outer ear canal and the surrounding areas.


3 Types of Ear Infection in Dogs

Unlike what a lot of pet parents mistakenly think, ear infections in dogs are not all the same. A dog's ear can be afflicted with fungal infections, bacterial infections, as well as infested with ear mites. Without the proper remedies for dog ear issues and the right support, these conditions can even escalate to chronic ear infections.

I'd just like to reiterate that otitis or canine ear infections can be caused by a variety of organisms, including bacteria, yeast and even mites. Here's a quick yet detailed look at the factors that can develop ear infections:

  • Yeast infection in dog’s ears: Malassezia organisms are single-celled fungi that normally live in small amounts on a dog's skin. However, they can multiply. Yeast-related ear infections are considered as the most common form of otitis, particularly otitis externa.
  • Bacteria: Although not all types of bacteria cause ear infections in dogs, a bacterial infection occurs when a significant number of bad bacteria occupy your dog's ears at a single time. Moreover, most of these bad bacteria also cause skin allergies in dogs.
  • Mites: Your dog's ear becomes vulnerable to ear mites (Otodectes cynotis) when he directly gets in contact with another infected animal infested with these parasites. When not taken care of properly, ear mites can cause damage to your pet's ear canal, which can even lead to deafness.


What are the Causes of my Dog's Ear Infection?

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What's really interesting is that several factors can predispose your dog to developing dog ear infections. These factors include genetics, lifestyle, and sensitivity to allergens, among others. Your pet's overall immune system health can also influence his vulnerability to ear infections.

Let's begin with genetics...

Some dog breeds, particularly those with floppy ears, are deemed to be at higher risk of developing ear infections. Examples of these breeds are Cocker Spaniels, Afghan Hounds, Dachshunds, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Bloodhounds, Beagles, as well as Shih Tzus. These floppy eared dogs are believed to be prone to ear infections since their ears tend to trap moisture.

For this part, we'll relate ear infections in dogs with lifestyle...

Your dog's ear can be at risk of being afflicted with bacterial infection or fungal infection if you happen to live in a very rainy or humid environment. Another factor is excessive bathing. While bathing helps keep a dog's ears clean, overdoing it can already be counterproductive since it can trigger the onset of ear infections, especially those with floppy ears.

Next, let's check out how allergen sensitivity can set off ear infections in canines...

A dog suffering from allergies—whether it's environmental or food-related—is rather vulnerable to ear infections since his immune system tends to be busy fighting off allergens most of the time. Instead of prioritizing to treat a dog ear that's afflicted with this health issue, his immune system will be focused on dealing with environmental allergies or a certain food allergy at any given time.

Are you curious where and how to purchase natural products for your pet? 👉 Click to learn more


Some VERY Important Reminders before having a Dog Ear Cleaning Session

I know this sounds surprising, but most pet owners only clean their pet's ears when they see their dog scratching vigorously more than usual. Dogs tend to do this to get to the irritated skin inside their ears, which cause them varying levels of discomfort.

Given that this activity is only done occasionally, a lot of pet parents aren't that experienced when it comes to cleaning their dog's ears. Apart from possibly not getting the job done properly, this can also be an underlying cause for health problems affecting the ears of their pets.

This is why I'm sharing these important reminders before you clean your pet's ears so you can be guided on how to do this the right way.

First thing to take note of is choosing the right ear cleaner for your canine family member. Most ear cleaning products sold in vet clinics are made from a solution containing a type of soft alcohol and other ingredients like salicylic acid and lactic acid.

While the soft alcohol is there to encourage excess moisture in the ears to dry out, the salicylic acid and lactic acid help get rid of any unwanted fungi and bacteria that may be accumulating inside them.

Second, never use cotton swabs or tips when cleaning your canine family member's ears. Sure they may be very handy and convenient for the job, but they do have some drawbacks that you should keep in mind.

Besides pushing debris towards the back of the ears and cause blockages, the cotton applicators of these swabs or tips can also potentially come off without warning. This can expose the hard plastic, which can cause injury to the inner ear or even the ear drum.

While this usually results to inflamed ears, there is still a very small possibility that it can lead to temporary or permanent hearing loss in some cases.

The third reminder on our list is to determine how often should you clean your dog's ears. Like we've talked about earlier, not all dogs' ears are the same. Although some dogs only need a monthly ear cleaning, those with floppy ears may require them once a week or every couple of weeks.

And no matter how tempting it may be, don't wash your pet's ears just because you notice that there are visible specks of dirt and grime on them. Your pet's immune system can easily take care of these by itself and can even hold back an infection without a vet, too!


How Do I Clean My Dog's Ears?

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If you ask me, preventing ear infections is a much more practical strategy to go for than having to treat a dog ear or ears affected with this health problem. One way of doing this is to clean your pet's ears properly on a regular basis. Here's one of the many home remedies you can use to pull this off:

  • Fill the ear canal with an ear cleaner. Make sure you do this as slowly and carefully as you can, preferably a few drops at a time to prevent any dribbles or spillage. You can also use a cotton ball to guide the ear cleaner in the ear canal.
  • Give your dog's ear a good massage to dislodge any bits of debris in and around the ear canal and then let your pet shake his head. It's also important to keep in mind that the accumulation of these pieces of debris is also deemed as a cause of ear infections.
  • Gently tilt your dog's head to one side to allow the ear cleaner to flow out. You can then use a cotton ball to wipe debris out of the ear canal. Removing these bits of debris can also help kill yeast that may have gathered in the ear canal. Repeat the whole process if you can still observe any noticeable bits of grime and dirt.


Something you Need to Know about Conventional Ear Cleaners for Dogs

  • While prescription treatments and over-the-counter ear cleaners are formulated to deal with infections and other issues that may cause your pet to have ear-related health problems, most of their ingredients are produced chemically.
  • Take for example salicylic acid and lactic acid. These can be found in natural sources like radishes, mushrooms and cucumber in the case of the former and in yogurt and pickled vegetables for the latter.
  • However, these ear cleaner ingredients are generally synthesized in a chemical process to be commercially viable. Some dogs may experience adverse side effects like severe itching, swelling and redness in and around the ears when using chemically prepared salicylic acid and lactic acid.
  • This is one of the biggest reasons why making it a point to use natural alternatives when dealing with your dog's ear health issues is a must.


How to Know if your Dog has an Ear Infection

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Do you think your dog is suffering from an ear infection? There are actually key things to take note of when determining the same and I walk you through them for this part of our discussion.

Typical symptoms of an ear infection in dogs are scratching of the ears and shaking of the head. To be able to spot an infection in your dog's ears, you will need to pay attention to the following signs:

  • Constant shaking of the head
  • Scratching of the ears
  • Head tilted to the side for prolonged periods
  • Foul odor is coming out of the ears
  • A more than usual amount of waxy discharge or secretion in the ears
  • Decreased energy and sudden loss of interest in play
  • The ears have a reddish appearance and are warm to the touch
  • Accumulation of blood in the ear cartilage that results to "cauliflower" ears


Is a Dog Ear Infection an Emergency?

While every dog ear infection should not be disregarded, there are some cases that require more immediate care and attention compared to others. In this section, I will give you the rundown on what these are.

Scenario #1. If your dog's head is tilted for an extended time or seems to be hearing less than usual, it is possible that the infection may have already migrated into the middle or inner ear. This can also mean that the tympanic membrane may have been ruptured. All in all, this is a more urgent condition and your dog already needs professional help.

Scenario #2. Another crucial situation to look out for is noticing that your canine family member's ear or ears have become remarkably red (sometimes even purple) and swollen, as well as quite warm to the touch. It's not uncommon that he will have smelly ears during this time, too. There is a big possibility that your dog has an ear hematoma and requires immediate vet care.

It is extremely crucial that you seek urgent professional assistance under these circumstances. Any delay could result to persistent or even lifelong adverse effects to your dog's overall health and quality of life.


How to Naturally Treat my Dog's Ear Infection at Home

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For minor cases of ear infections in dogs, there are actually a number of home remedies you can go for to support your pet during this health issue. These natural remedies won't just help alleviate any pain and discomfort, but also promote healing and recuperation.

And when it comes to taking care of your pet's ear infection without a vet, we've got a few natural suggestions that you can help your dog with at home. Having a reliable home remedy is a must to nip dog ear problems in the bud since these can get in the picture unexpectedly!

For this part of our discussion, I will guide you through no-fuss home remedies such as a cleaning technique using hydrogen peroxide, one that's based on apple cider vinegar, as well as another that makes use of coconut oil.


Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)

There are still a lot people who are undecided about using H2O2 to treat a dog ear ailment. I even remember as a child that my father used this technique to clean MY ears! How about you? Have you already tried this one?

According to a study published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), using hydrogen peroxide is not just efficient in getting rid of earwax and other debris in the ears, but very cost-effective as well.

The best way to use H2O2 in dealing with your dog's ear infections is by mixing one part of it with one part of water. You can either use a cotton ball or a dropper to slowly fill your pet's ear with this solution.

Allow the whole thing to froth for about two minutes, then gently tip your dog's head to one side to drain the solution. Never use undiluted peroxide for this approach or add more than the recommended amount to prevent any damage to your pooch's ears.


Apple cider vinegar

Chances are you've already got apple cider vinegar in your kitchen or pantry right now. Believe it or not, besides being a must-have ingredient for making delicious salad dressings, apple cider vinegar is also one of the home remedies you can go for to take care of dog ear infection.  

Another study in the NCBI highlights that ACV exhibits antimicrobial, antifungal and antibacterial properties. Apple cider vinegar has also been seen to restrict the growth of E. coli, S. aureus and Candida albicans—which can trigger a yeast infection—in laboratory-based studies.

This home remedy partly consists of acetic acid, a naturally occurring compound that is also found in several commercial ear cleaners. Using ACV to treat your pet's ear infection without a vet is not that tricky, too.

Thoroughly combine one part apple cider vinegar with one part warm water. With the use of cotton balls, slowly apply a few drops of the solution inside your pet's ear. Cover the ear with a dry cotton ball or a clean piece of cloth and let the solution sit in the ear for about three to five minutes.

Drain your pooch's ear carefully afterwards and wipe off any residue of the solution. Moreover, keep in mind not to use ACV to treat a dog ear infection in its pure and undiluted form since it's highly likely that it will cause a burning sensation upon contact with sensitive tissues.


Coconut oil treatment

 Another strategy to treat dog ear infection without going to the vet's clinic is by using coconut oil. Here's a quick and easy guide from Wellpet that you can include in your natural remedy list:

  • Mix 2 tablespoons of coconut oil with garlic and cook them over low heat.
  • Let the coconut oil/garlic home remedy combo cool down completely. You can use this mixture to clean your dog's ears with cotton wool or gauze.


TOP Pick from our Dog Ear Infection Home Remedies

As a pet parent, your first course of action would be to make your dog feel much better as soon as he is showing the first signs of an ear infection. Zumalka's EAR CARE is particularly formulated to help you support your pooch when this health problem strikes.

Besides helping soothe the itchiness in your furry companion's ears, EAR CARE is also designed to reduce the redness associated with inflammation. This premium product helps boost and maintain your pet’s natural fighting power against ear infections while at it, too.

EAR CARE not just addresses the root causes of an ear infection, but also targets issues such as chronic yellow ear discharge, throbbing pain, bleeding, inflammation of the ear, hardening of the eardrum, deafness and even bad odors.

Have you ever wondered, DO ZUMALKA PRODUCTS WORK?


    A Final Word

    In any case, ear infections in dogs should be taken seriously even if they are very common. Allowing this health problem to linger for days (or even a few weeks in very minor cases) can already lead to some serious consequences.

    Should your dog display the symptoms of ear infection, make sure you apply the most convenient natural remedy available at that given moment to stop this condition in its tracks. Just remember to act immediately and avoid complications.

    A dog with healthy ears is a happy dog!



    About the author

    Denise Lessard
    Denise Lessard


    Denyse Lessard is deemed as the “mother” of Zumalka, which was established more than ten years ago to provide easily accessible natural products for pet wellness worldwide.

    Besides being a trained alternative medicine therapist, Denyse also has expertise in homeopathy, naturopathy and iridology, reflexology, as well as Chinese medicine. She is a long-standing member of the Professional Union of Homeopaths of Quebec, as well as the Association of Naturopaths and Naturotherapists of Quebec.

    Denyse’s philosophy as regards pet wellness is not just about only dealing with disease and illness when they get in the picture, but keeping animals in ideal health each and every day.

    Find out more about Denyse when you click HERE.


    • Mohamed Hashi March 27, 2024 at 12:15 pm

      This article is a valuable resource for pet owners seeking alternative methods to treat their dog’s ear infections at home. The detailed breakdown of each natural remedy, along with instructions for their safe and effective use, is particularly helpful. It’s crucial, however, for pet owners to remember that while these home remedies can be effective for mild cases, consulting a veterinarian is essential for severe infections to prevent potential complications. The emphasis on early detection and proactive treatment aligns well with responsible pet care practices.

    • Zumalka January 12, 2024 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Dale, please check your email inbox, we’ve sent you a short email questionnaire to help you figure out which products fit your pet’s specific needs.

    • dale debrunner January 12, 2024 at 3:28 pm

      hi, my dogs ears are i belived infected because he shakes his head and sometimes yelps when he shakes it. i also kinda smell a unplesant smell from his ears. please advise what i may use to help with this problem. i thank you for any advise you may have to help him.

    • Zumalka July 21, 2023 at 4:29 pm

      Hi Dawn, I’m sorry to hear this about your pet ! We sent you an email to let you know how to get in touch with our homeopath for your free email consultation. We hope to hear from you soon !

    • Dawn July 21, 2023 at 4:24 pm

      I have a large dog (75-80lbs), possible part shepherd/rottweiler mix, 13 years old. While very gentle and very sweet, he will not allow me to touch his badly infected ear. Neither will he get in a vehicle to travel to vet. My husband and I are both disabled making lifting and moving him even more difficult. We have tried everything from using a muzzle to distracting him with treats and affection to get to his ear, but he is not having any of it. So, I cannot get any medicine in his ear. I have given him antibiotic in his food, but the topical antibiotic is impossible. Do you have any advice on helping him? I’m really desperate at this point.

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