My Dog Has an Ear Infection and I Can’t Afford a Vet

As a first-time dog owner, you should be familiar with the costs associated with an ear infection. Fortunately, there are many methods for lowering the cost of a vet visit. If your dog doesn’t have health insurance, consider an alternative to having a pricey vet.

My dog has an ear infection but I can’t afford a vet

Having your dog suffering from an ear infection can be unbearably frustrating. You’re probably wondering how to get rid of my dog’s ear infection without going to the vet? The following tips will help you take care of the ear infection yourself and save you some time and money.

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.

How much does it cost to treat an ear infection in a dog?

The cost of veterinary care is constantly increasing. Vets across the U.S. charge on average $40-$150 to treat an ear infection, depending on the medical treatment needed.

Can an ear infection in a dog go away on its own?

In most cases, a dog’s ear infection will not heal on its own. You can try to treat it with over-the-counter (OTC) medications and remedies, but chances are you won’t see results. If you wait too long, the infection can lead to chronic issues and surgery.

Early recognition and appropriate treatment can help prevent further complications. Ears can be tricky and if you notice any symptoms of infection (dirt in the ear, head shaking, etc) it might be best to take him to your vet as soon as possible. The sooner you catch an infection, the easier it will be to fix.

How long does it take for a dog ear infection to clear up?

Most uncomplicated dog ear infections can be treated and resolved within just a week or two. However, it could also take months when there are other underlying health conditions causing it.

Does vinegar cure a dog ear infection?

The short answer is no. There is no scientific evidence that vinegar cures dog ear infections. The acid in vinegar might kill yeast, but vinegar is mostly water and will make your dog’s ear canal moist inviting further infections.

What is the best antibiotic for dog ear infections?

The decision on the appropriate choice of antibiotic or anti-fungal for your pet depends greatly on its diagnosis, but common antibiotics include amoxicillin-clavulanate, enrofloxacin, clindamycin, and cefpodoxime. For dogs with fungal ear infections, the medication most often used is Itraconazole.

Are dog ear infections an emergency?

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.


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Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

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