The ear infection itself is not a serious condition, however, the complications it causes if left untreated can certainly cause more serious and prolonged problems for your dog. This can include frequent and recurring ear infections, deafness and mobility issues.
How can I get rid of my dog’s ear infection without going to the vet?
1. Clean your dog’s ears
When cleaning your dog’s ears, the most important piece of advice is NEVER use a q-tip. This will only push wax or discharge further into the ear canal and if inserted too far, the q-tip can cause permanent damage to the eardrum. Not only is this incredibly painful, but it will most likely lead to deafness in that ear.
It is advisable to use an antibacterial cleaning solution that is free from alcohol and hydrogen peroxide as these are irritants and can actually cause the type of infections you are trying to prevent.
To apply the cleaning solution, a cotton ball or cotton gauze pad is best. They will not scratch or irritate the lining of the ears and are absorbant to help remove dirt, discharge and waxy build-up.
With your dog sitting or laying in front of you, gently lift one ear flap and squeeze the ear cleaner into their ear. Always follow the guidance on the instructions regarding the acceptable amount of solution to use. Using your thumb, gently massage the base of the ear to assist the solution in breaking up the debris within the ear canal. This process usually takes around 30 seconds.
Begin to lightly rub the outer area of the ear with a cotton ball. Remember to praise your dog for being calm and still. Slowly rub further into the ear, going no deeper than the first knuckle of your fingers. If your dog needs to shake his head at any point, this is fine, as the motion will help to remove any remaining solution from his ear canal.
When you switch ears, change to a clean cotton ball to prevent spreading bacteria or dirt between the ears.
2. Apply ear medication to dogs
As with the method for cleaning the ears, have your dog sit or lay in front of you. Gently lift one ear flap and squeeze the drop bottle until the prescribed number of drops is in the ear. Now, gently massage the base of the ear in small circular motions. Allow your dog to shake his head, then check for any loosened debris. You can remove this with a cotton pad and lukewarm water. Wash your hands straight away to prevent spreading the infection.
3. Combat ear infections in dogs with the right dog food
If your dog suffers from recurrent infections or those caused by allergies, your veterinarian may advise a change of diet.
The best alterations are towards brands that do not contain any wheat, gluten or additives. Many dog food companies have veterinary-approved allergy diets and this will be displayed on their packaging.
These are recipes that only use natural ingredients such as brown rice, root vegetables and beneficial supplements like omega 3 fish oil or canola oil. Your veterinarian will most likely stock specialized dog food for dogs with allergies or prone to infections.
When changing your dog’s diet, be mindful not to shock their system. This should be done slowly, ideally over a 2 week period by adding a small amount of the new food to their regular food.
Over the 2 weeks, you can begin to increase the amount of the new food and decrease the amount of the old food. If you notice loose stool, decrease the amount of the new food and add smaller amounts over a longer period so they have time to adjust.
4. Colloidal silver
Touted as a wonder homeopathic treatment for infections, many holistic and natural remedies companies swear by the use of colloidal silver liquid drops to treat ear infections in dogs.
There is no scientific proof that colloidal silver treats an infection, but many dog owners have reported seeing improvement in their dog’s condition after taking this supplemental treatment.
It works by attacking the enzymes that bacteria need to utilize oxygen. Without these enzymes, the bacteria cannot survive. The most common side effect of using colloidal silver is that it causes permanent discoloration to the teeth, gums, eyes and skin. If used for too long or in too high a dosage, it can cause more serious conditions such as kidney failure and toxic shock.
When considering the use of natural remedies, you should always consult your veterinarian. While many homeopathic ingredients are beneficial, others can cause more problems than they claim to solve.
Can ear infections in dogs be fatal?
We do not think of ear infections being a serious condition, however, they can cause more serious medical problems if not treated promptly.
In some cases, the infection can be caused by a small tumor. If this is not alleviated, the tumor can cause severe symptoms such as problems with coordination, seizures or even death.
Although this is rare, it is a possibility, which is why it is also best to seek veterinary advice as soon as you notice signs of an ear infection. The sooner the cause is treated, the fewer symptoms the dog will exhibit and the faster they will recover.