Tiffani M. Beckman, Vet Asst. & Student of Veterinary
Ear problems are very common among dogs. While
others may suggest using a chemical solution or immune-suppressive
drugs, I prefer to try to treat ear problems in a more natural way. Ear
problems are very often the effect of something else wrong in the body,
such as a food allergy. Remember when you are treating the ear, you are
(usually) treating the symptom, and not the cause, and to CURE the ear
problem the cause must be found and eradicated. The following are some
ideas for cleaning out ears and treating them.
1. Calendula flush - combine in a glass drinking glass 1 cup warm
distilled or filtered water, 1 teaspoon Calendula tincture, and 1/2
teaspoon sea salt. Mix well. With an ear syringe or dropper, gently
and quickly squeeze some of the liquid into the ear canal. Not deeply,
but just slightly inside. Try not to let the applicator make a noise as
it might scare the animal. Fold the ear flap over and massage in. Do
this to other ear, then stand back and let animal shake. Let it stay
in, and use 2 times a day until irritation and discharge reduce or stop.
2. Wash with green tea if they are moist.
3. Wash with aloe vera concentrate if they are dry.
4. Dilute ACV with 1/2 rubbing alcohol to wash out and dry ears. Do
not use if ears are ulcerated, as it might burn.
5. Some homeopathic preparations are indicated. Ask your vet about the
following to see if one or more should be used on your pet - Lycopodium,
Psorinum, Pulsatilla, Silicea, Sepia, Kali Sulph, Sulphur, Nitric Acid,
Thuja, Kalie Chlor - these are all given internally. Make sure and ask
your vet before medicating with any of these. Also ask about the
following treatments for external application - Arnica, Arsenium Album,
6. A Calendula cream or tincture might help a lot too. Sometimes
Calendula and hypericum are combined in a cream called hyper-cal. This
can soothe many skin problems.
7. Always make sure to check and see if anything is actually caught in
the ear. Foxtails are a menace and can cause major problems if they
happen to get caught in an ear and start to burrow inside. A good
general idea is to brush out coats and clean out ears after your animal
comes in from a swim or other excursion outside. This can help keep you
find ticks and foxtails in a timely fashion, before they start causing
8. Aloe applied directly to the ear helps heal and soothe also. Use
fresh juice if at all possible. Aloe plants are easy to grow and help
cleanse the air of impurities, especially formaldehyde fumes from wood
9. Sweet almond oil will help soften and dissolve dark, waxy, oily
discharge. Apply into ear and massage in.
10. Garlic in olive oil will help in the same ways sweet almond oil
will. Take a bottle of olive oil and submerge 2 peeled cloves of garlic
(the clove is the smaller "pearl" inside the whole garlic bulb). Let it
stand for a week, then strain out garlic and use the oil as mentioned
above in tip number 9.
11. Dogs don't tend to get ear mites, but cats do. The same rules
apply to ear mites - low immunities seem to invite mites. Strengthen
the immune system (taking care of the cause of the problem) and get rid
of the mites by cleaning out the ears initially. A half ounce of olive
or almond oil mixed with 400 IU natural Vitamin E (the kind with d-tocopherols,
NOT dl-tocopherols) makes a nice cleanser - warm to room temp in a hot
water bath and apply to ears, massage in, and wipe clean. Apply this
oil every other day for 6 days (3 total treatments). Don't start the
next treatment for 3 days. For the next stage, take some Yellow Dock (Rumex
crispus) and make a tea with the herb. Use the warm (NOT hot) tea (let
the herb sit in hot pure water for 15 minutes, then strain through a
strainer or cheesecloth) just like you did with the oil. Treat once
every 3 days for 3 - 4 weeks.
To strengthen the immune system enough so it can heal itself, you need
to be a bit of a detective. Why are your dog's ears problematic in the
first place? The easiest place to start is diet. Are you feeding a
natural diet, or a highly processed one full of unnecessary ingredients
and harmful chemicals? Are there grains in the diet - if so which
ones? What type of meat is the diet based on - beef or lamb or poultry,
etc. If you are not already, I highly recommend feeding a natural diet,
which means a diet of raw meat, bones and vegetables. If you need
information on a natural diet, please see the articles in this series on
B.A.R.F., and Natural Feeding. A proper diet will allow the body to
heal itself and resolve the internal problems causing the ear problems.
Even if you are feeding a natural diet, your animal may still be
allergic to an ingredient in it. Start at the basics....offer nothing
but a meat, say chicken. Any problems with chicken? If there are no
problems after a while, try adding a new ingredient, say pureed carrots.
Keep testing each new ingredient slowly until you find the source of
the problem....many dogs end up being allergic to grains and beef.
Also, if you have recently started a natural diet, your dog may be
detoxing....if you are unsure of what this is, please let me know and I
will send you information.
After you have looked at the diet, look at the environment. Do you live
in an area that contains many allergens, like ragweed or molds? And
what about the stress at home - is the animal perfectly happy? Reduce
the level of stress as much as possible, and bolster the immune system
with a proper diet and supplements such as herbs and vitamins. Stress
can cause acne in humans - why couldn't it cause ear problems in dogs?
Washing all the bedding the dog sleeps on or hangs around on will help
too if you suspect an air-borne allergen. Washing the bedding several
times a week will get rid of the allergens that can accumulate (this
also works in humans with allergies to air-borne things, especially the
washing of the pillowcases).
If your dog swims a lot, try to dry out the ears afterward to dry out a
potentially good environment for yeast - warm and moist. The
ACV/alcohol solution is good for just an all-purpose cleaner and dryer.
Try to clean out your dog's ears often, definitely more than once a
month. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, remember. Even
if your dog doesn't have a tendency to have ear problems, a clean ear
can do no harm.
A chiropractic adjustment may work wonders for your pet too. Cervical
subluxations, or one of the first 7 vertebrae being out of joint, can
cause numerous problems, including ear infections. Consult a veterinary
chiropractor to see if this is indicated for your pet.
Vit C and ACV (apple cider vinegar) can be given internally to help the
immune system clear up the ear problem. Vit C up to bowel tolerance and
a splash of organic ACV in the drinking water or in the food can help
The most important part of this article is the part about the immune
system. You *must* build up the immune system instead of suppressing it,
as suppressing it only drives the problem in deeper. Later the problem
may surface in a more serious way. Are you *really* feeding your animal
for health? Look hard.
Please feel free to email me if you have more questions, or need more
Tiffani M. Beckman
This article is Copyright © 1998 No
reprints without expressed permission.
**Disclaimer - I am not a vet. Please check with
your vet before trying any new treatments or diets.**