How to Protect Your Dog Against Ear Infections

How to Protect Your Dog Against Ear Infections

Our dogs pretty much never get ear infections anymore. I know that may sound crazy, akin to declaring the end to bad driving everywhere. But honestly, there are some easy steps you can take to help your dog steer clear of ear infections. In rare cases, dog’s ear infections are due to genetics, breed-specific propensity, or as a signal for some other malady. In most cases, ear health in our pets can be proactively managed – pretty much putting an end to canine ear infections. Here’s how to protect your dog against ear infections.

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How to Protect Your Dog From Ear Infection, by Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDogDoes Your Dog Have an Ear Infection?

Hopefully not, but just in case you’re not sure, there are some signals that your fuzzy one will send out… And rest assured, almost every dog has suffered from a painful ear infection sometime in their life.  Watch your dog and if he is scratching or rubbing at his ears or shaking his head he may have an ear infection. Also, dog’s with ear infections tend to have an odor emanating from their ears, often accompanied by red irritated ear canals, and even brown ‘gunk’ in their ear. Gently clear your dog’s fur from his ears and take a peak. I use to freak out when my dog had gunky ears – but after a number of costly trips to the vet and some studying, I found it’s easier to fend off dog’s ear infections than treat it!

How To Protect Your Dog Against Ear Infections

There are two key steps to fending off ear infections for your dog:

  1. Nutrition/pH Balance – combats yeast
  2. Proactive Cleaning – combats bacteria

Pretty simple right? Well, food is where most of us get a bit confused. Food, or as we call it, nutrition, is often key. Without getting into too much detail, or scientific mumbo jumbo, a dog’s biology is made for fresh protein and minimal carbohydrates. Doggos are not the ‘eat fast food and enjoy optimal health’ type of animal. Just like humans, our dog’s diets often come in boxed and prepackaged ‘food,’ and that’s not ideal. Dogs immune systems need whole foods, rich in nutrition to help them fight off yeast or allergies and defend them against the truly bad stuff, like ear infections.

Feed Your Dog Nutrition

How to Protect Your Dog From Ear Infection, by Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDogProper nutrition helps your dog maintain appropriate pH balances throughout his little body. Why is that important? A proper pH balance is what creates the environment for enzymes to thrive. Is that important too? Yup. Enzymes are proteins that act as catalysts for all living organisms in a body – dog and human alike. We need them to live. Without them your dog’s body gets sad and more-than-likely sick. Yeasty sick is how it often starts. Your dog’s gut is a key to a healthy and long life. We recommend a diet full of grass-fed, hormone, steroid and antibiotic-free proteins and organs, tripe, freshwater fish like sardines, free-range eggs, and a few cancer-fighting vegetables and memory boosting fruits. Keeping a dog’s gut in-check is often key to a yeast free pooch, including his ears.

Proactive Cleaning

One thing to always keep in mind, just like humans, dogs need their ears to be dry. So, if your dog is the type that likes to swim, towel off their ear flaps, both sides, and gently dry their ear canals post swim, and that includes bathes. This is a must, no ‘I’m too tired to dry off Fido’s ears’ excuses. It’ll come back to haunt you…and hurt Fido. Dry-liness is next to Dog-liness! Next you’ll want to gently clean the insides of your dog’s ears, rubbing outward, with a natural cleaner made of purified water andcalendula oil – it cleans and doesn’t change the pH levels in your dog’s ears. If your dog has a tiny bit of ear wax in his ear flap, add a little bit of apple cider vinegar to the mix.

Calendula (calendula officinalis) is an amazing healer and is one of the best holistic and antifungal remedies for cleaning and treating your dog’s ears.

Calendula (a.k.a. pot marigold, don’t confuse it with the marigolds you plant in your flower garden) is used to stimulate wound healing, works as an astringent, is antimicrobial, antifungal antibacterial, antiviral and is used for all types of wounds – including cuts, scrapes, abrasions, burns, and inflammations. Calendula enhances fibro-blastic growth, thereby helping to reconstruct tissue found in cuts, scrapes, scarring, and the like.

How to Protect Your Dog From Ear Infection, by Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDog

How to Make and Use Calendula Ear Cleaner

Mix one tablespoon purified water and 10 drops calendula oil in a glass bowl and stir. Dip a cotton pad into the mixture until slightly damp, lift your dog’s ear flap, and starting close, but not in the ear canal, wipe the cotton pad outward. Keep turning the wet cotton pad, using a fresh piece, until the entire ear has been wiped clean. 1-2 pads per ear, and never re-dip the cotton pad into the liquid. Air dry for 10 minutes before wiping your dog’s ear dry. Clean 2x a week using this mixture.

The Danger of Yeast and Antibiotics

Antibiotics seem like a cure-all, don’t they? Go to your vet and you come home with antibiotics. This is no longer the case with human’s physicians due to antibiotic resistant strain diseases. Meaning, the infection appears to get better, only to come back stronger and most likely with a vengeance. Yeast loves dark moist places like your dog’s ears and many well meaning vets prescribe antibiotics – but 95% of the time that is not the way to go. That’s why we seek out holistic vets – they are schooled in helping your pet’s body work to heal itself.

Keeping your dog’s ears clean is pretty simple when you really get down to it. Oh, and don’t forget if your dog has gunky ears, have him checked out and discuss an all-natural enzymatic solution with your holistic vet – and remember, it’s always easier to prevent an ear infection than treat one.

If you ❤ this, make sure to read our tips for helping dogs with anxiety!

Rebecca Sanchez, The Pet Lifestyle Guru at MattieDogThanks for reading, and until next time – take care and keep on lovin’ your dog! MattieDog A little dog making a big impact in this world, MattieDog, social media superstar, animal advocate, animal author


A little dog making a big impact in this world!® MattieDog Gets Adopted, a dog's view of being rescued and adopted


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Rebecca Sanchez is a nationally recognized leader in the human-animal bond. Known as "The Pet Lifestyle Guru™" at MattieDog (her heart dog)! Rebecca is an award winning writer that blogs about her life with her doggos, and sometimes about her husband who reluctantly agrees to participate in her shenanigans. Rebecca's work can be seen in numerous dog magazines, and in her books on Amazon.

26 Comments

  1. It’s so interesting that food/nutrition play an integral part in a dog’s ear health. It seems everything can be improved with improved nutrition! Thanks for this information.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply
  2. Great article about how to prevent or treat an ear infection! I agree with you on
    the importance of a well- balanced nutritional diet. The more we look out for what we feed the dog, the higher infection resistant the dog becomes. Therefore, more natural and beneficial high protein and low carb food, as you have mentioned in your article, will increase the immune system in a dog.

    Reply
  3. Great article about how to prevent or treat an ear infection! I agree with you on
    the importance of a well- balanced nutritional diet. The more we look out for what we feed the dog, the higher infection resistant the dog becomes. Therefore, more natural and beneficial high protein and low carb food, as you have mentioned

    Reply
  4. I love calendula and it has so many beneficial uses. My dogs do not have problems with their ears yet, but I am always touching inside and around their ears so they are comfortable. If they do ever have a problem I don’t want to have a problem administering medicine or cleaning.

    Reply
  5. This is the first time I have ever heard of Calendula. Great post and a must-read for any dog owner!!!!

    Reply
  6. It never ceases to amaze me how much dog health and human health have in common. I am constantly telling people about how their diet influences skin/vaginal etc candidal infections. I keep learning how to apply that knowledge to my pets. I also love using herbal/aroma therapy and will look into Calendula more. Thank you for such great information!

    Reply
  7. Good tips! My dog, Benji, had chronic ear infections that would come back constantly! The only thing that fixed it (after trying meds and ear drops) was changing him to a raw diet! Diet definitely plays a factor. 🙂

    Reply
  8. Mr. N doesn’t quite have an infection but his ears are irritated so our vet advised us to keep an eye on them. I’ll keep your recommendations in mind.

    Reply
  9. Thank you for sharing such a thorough overview. It’s interesting to read about the importance of nutrition as it relates to ear infections. Healthy pups are happy pups, for sure!

    Reply
  10. So true! Ours hates going into the water but we still clean his ears when he rolls in the grass just so that he does not pick up any nasty infection from the moisture.

    Reply
  11. I’m glad you made a point that food is connected to overall health, especially allergy-related illnesses, like ear infections. Buster is a wrinkly Pug/Bulldog mix and very ear infection prone, so we clean his ears daily to prevent infections. I use calendula gel on his stomach/legs every day in his allergy seasons to help with skin allergies, but I’ve never heard of or used calendula oil. I’ll check it out!

    Reply
  12. I know I’m going to regret saying this because I’m going to jinx something…I have never had a dog with an ear infection. I did enjoy reading your post and you’ve got some great tips there I better save it now!! I always find it so interesting how a good wholesome diet is the basis of overall good health, in any species. I’m going to pass this article to a neighbour of mine whose dog gets ear infections. Thanks for the great info.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for this great info. I’ll have to look into whether or not these same things will work for cats. Our Sophie has chronic ear issues, and was just treated for an ear infection. My husband cleans her ears pretty regularly, and that helps, but we need to figure out more we can do. This last vet visit, our vet suggested it may be a food allergy, so we are in the process of figuring out which protein source might be the culprit. We shall see!

    Reply
  14. Tons of great information in this post! I love that you mention nutrition as one of the main methods to prevent ear infections. The only thing I might add is that ear infections can also surface when a dog is allergic to something they are eating. Our Sulley was fed an entirely raw diet and after about 6 months of battling one infection after another, I did a food trial and after I eliminated chicken, his ears cleaned up. He hasn’t had another ear infection since. I am so intrigued by the Calendula oil. I have never heard of that, but it sounds amazing! I may have to try it out! Thank you!

    Reply
  15. Diet and preventative care are so important for overall health, ears included! I’ll have to look into that calendula oil. Great tips

    Reply
  16. I didn’t think about a dog’s diet being a cause for ear infections, but it makes sense. I have Celiac Disease and it’s amazing the impact gluten has on my body!

    Reply
  17. Hmmm. Interesting way to treat a sick dog’s body. Will put that in my arsenal of tools

    Reply
  18. Great Info. Interestingly enough, I only have to clean 1 our of the 4 of our dogs ear regularly. As gross as it is, our girl Cece, will sit for hours and lick the insides of the other 3’s ears!

    Reply
  19. Pinning this post! Thank you for such a clear-cut solution for cleaning ears. So far, Bernie and Lizzie’s pendulous ears have not gotten infected, but I’ve tried a few different wipes and not been happy with the products. And I love calendula cream, so using calendula oil mixed with water to clean their ears just makes sense to me. I know how much relief I feel from the cream, so I’d like our dogs to experience that same good feeling.

    Reply
  20. Ear issues are a major thing and can have a serious impact on the life of our family members.

    I also prefer a more natural approach with natural things. There are too many ‘chemicals’ in the world!

    Reply
  21. Good nutrition is a key. Ears are really an extension of the skin and skin health is never skin deep. I believe that ears that don’t get in trouble don’t need regular cleaning but for ears that do like to get in trouble a regular holistic solution might be a good idea.

    Reply
  22. Diet affects human and dog diseases especially ear infections so not a surprise. I had not heard of calendula but will definitely look into it. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  23. Food allergies are a big contributor to ear infections. I wasn’t aware of the calendula connection to prevent them, though. Like that option much better than throwing antibiotics at it! Thank you for sharing this!

    Reply
  24. Fortunately, my dogs haven’t had many ear infections, but they sure seem to be painful. The last time Nelly had one, it seemed to clear up (with treatment), but then migrated or reoccurred in her other ear. It was dreadful. I will have to make some of the Calendula ear cleaner.

    Reply
  25. I’m definitely pinning this for later! We’ve been lucky with only 1 or 2 ear infections since I’ve had Luna and floppy eared dogs are a bit more prone. The worst was last summer when both Ralph & Luna had DOUBLE ear infections! It was right after our road trip, but we definitely learned our lesson to take steps to prevent it from happening in the future.

    Reply
  26. What a helpful post! Bean is prone to ear infections and I always feel so bad for her. Now that we have changed her food and have added probiotics, she is less likely to get an ear infection (knock on wood). I’ll know where to turn if I need help with preventing or treating ear infections!

    Reply

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