Ear infections (the medical term for them is otitis externa) are one of the most common reasons that people take their dogs to the vet. They are a sign that something is out of balance. Unfortunately, when conventional approaches are used to “treat” them, they tend to come back over and over again. For example, many conventional vets recommend antibiotics for them. But antibiotics, which are broad-spectrum (meaning they kill everything, not just “bad” bacteria), can cause an imbalance in “good” vs. “bad” bacteria that can lead to more ear infections in the future.
- Tilting or shaking the head
- Brown or reddish discharge inside the ear
- Ear odor
- Redness or swelling in the ear
- Scabs or crusty areas in the ear
Note: If you notice symptoms like unusual eye movements, walking in circles, or having trouble with balance, it’s important to get your dog to a holistic veterinarian to be checked for a more serious infection.
- Switch your dog to a balanced, varied, species-appropriate raw diet.
- Eliminate toxins, including antibiotics (they cause imbalances that can lead to more ear infections), steroids (which suppress the immune system), and over-the-counter flea and tick treatments (they’re poisons).
- Mix equal parts distilled water and apple cider vinegar. Using a cotton ball soaked in the solution, gently clean your dog’s ear flap. Take care not to push the cotton ball into the ear canal (and don’t use a Q-tip!). This can push dirt and bacteria deeper in the ear, and it can also rupture their eardrum. Note that if your dog’s ears are inflamed, avoid this remedy; the apple cider vinegar will be very painful for them.
- Get a pre-made calendula infusion, soak a cotton ball with it, and gently apply it to your dog’s ear flap.
- Simmer 2 tablespoons coconut oil in a saucepan on low heat. Add in two fresh garlic cloves. Once the oil becomes liquid, let it cool enough so it doesn’t burn your dog’s ears, then dip a cotton ball in the oil mixture and gently apply to your dog’s ear.
- Dilute your chosen essential oil with equal parts olive oil or fractionated coconut oil. Use a cotton ball to gently apply the solution to your dog’s ear. Good oils to try are Myrrh, Thyme, Wintergreen, Helichrysum, Mountain Savory, Basil, ImmuPower, Melrose, Thieves, Purification, and Exodus II. Note I only use Young Living oils for my dogs, myself, and my family.
- Be patient if you make these changes and your dog enters a healing response. Contact a holistic veterinarian or a certified animal naturopath if you need additional help.
It’s best to apply any of the above ideas 2 or 3 times per day for about a week. If you don’t see any improvement, see your veterinarian.