How to Treat Ear Infection in Pets


Does your pet constantly scratch or rub its ears? It could be a red flag signaling an ear infection, an ailment most pets have at one time or another. The problem is more common during the summer months.

The most likely causes are bacterial or yeast infections, ear mite infestations and sometimes food allergies. Though your pet’s ears have a natural defense mechanism to fend off foreign bodies, no system works perfectly at all times.

If your dog or cat is suffering from an ear infection, some of the prominent signs and symptoms include constantly scratching the ears, wiping or rubbing the ears on the floor, shaking the head, a foul odor or discharge from the ears, redness and swelling. You may also notice flaky skin and loss of hair around the ears. In some cases, there can even be hearing loss.

how to get rid of ear infections in pets

Your vet can suggest a number of products to treat the problem. However, if you want to try a natural approach using home remedies, there are a number of household items that can come to your aid.

Here are six methods you can try to treat ear infection in pets. Most of the remedies can be used on both dogs and cats.

Before proceeding, examine your pet’s ears for any sign of broken or cut skin and inflammation. If such cases, do not try to clean the ears or use any home treatment. Ideally, wait a few days for the inflammation to subside. If the inflammation persists, it is best to consult your vet.

Method 1: Use Blue Power Treatment

Blue power treatment is one of the most effective methods to get rid of ear infections in pets. It is a solution made using rubbing alcohol, gentian violet and boric acid.

The gentian violet fights the infection, due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. The boric acid soothes the skin, while the alcohol cleanses the ear canal.

Note: Do not use blue power treatment if your pet has a punctured or ruptured eardrum.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need

  • Rubbing alcohol (disinfectant) – 8 oz.
  • Boric acid powder (soothes ears) – 2 tablespoons
  • 1% Gentian violet solution (antifungal and antibacterial agent) – 8 drops

Step 1. Add boric acid and rubbing alcohol to a pitcher

 mix boric acid and rubbing alcohol

  • Put 2 tablespoons of boric acid powder in a pitcher.
  • Add about 8 oz. of rubbing alcohol to the boric acid.

Step 2. Mix and transfer to a bottle

 mix and pour

  • Stir the solution to thoroughly blend the ingredients.
  • Transfer the solution to a bottle.

Step 3. Mix in gentian violet solution and apply to pet’s infected ears

add drops of gentian violet solution and use

  • Add 8 drops of 1% gentian violet solution. Do this carefully, as the liquid can stain your fingers and clothes.
  • Mix all the ingredients and store.
  • Shake the bottle before each use. Use a dropper to put a generous amount of the solution in your pet’s ears.
  • Fold down the ear flaps and hold them for 1 minute and massage gently. Then, allow your pet to shake off its head to remove excess liquid.
  • Clean the visible part of the ears with cotton balls.

Repeat the remedy twice daily for 1 to 2 weeks. After the first 2 weeks, you can reduce the treatment to once per day.

To maintain your pet’s ear health, use it once a month after the ear infection has cleared completely.

Note: Since gentian violet can stain clothes, it is best to do the treatment outdoors. Also, don’t panic if it stains your pet’s ears. The stain will fade away eventually.

Method 2: Use White Vinegar

White vinegar, containing acetic acid, can also be effective in treating ear infections in pets.

Note: It is important to use only distilled or filtered water to increase the shelf life of the solution. Also, it does not contain any impurities that may be in your tap water.

Step 1. Pour white vinegar and water into a spray bottle

pour white vinegar and water into a spray bottle

  • Pour ½ cup of white vinegar into a spray bottle.
  • Add ½ cup of distilled water to the vinegar.
  • Put the nozzle back on the bottle and shake it to thoroughly mix the liquids.

Step 2. Spray the solution in your pet’s ears

spray solution in pet's ears

  • Spray the solution in your pet’s ears.
  • Massage the base of the ears for a few seconds, then allow your pet to shake off any excess liquid.
  • Use a cotton ball to wipe off the ear flaps and visible areas inside of the ears. However, do not go too deep, as it can hurt your pet and also aggravate the infection.

Apply it twice a day for 1 to 2 weeks.

Method 3: Use Apple Cider Vinegar

Organic apple cider vinegar is a blessing for both humans and their pets. It kills bacteria and fungi and corrects the pH balance in the ear, which creates an unfriendly environment for bacteria and fungi to thrive.

Apple cider vinegar is also helpful for ear infections in humans.

Step 1. Mix apple cider vinegar and distilled water in a spray bottle

mix apple cider vinegar and distilled water

  • Pour ½ cup each of distilled water and apple cider vinegar into a spray bottle.
  • Put the nozzle back on the bottle and shake it to mix the ingredients.

Step 2. Spray the solution in your pet’s ears

spray the solution in pet's ears

  • Spray the solution in your pet’s ears.
  • Clean the visible area of the ears with a cotton ball.
  • Use the solution to clean your pet’s ears twice daily for 2 weeks to get rid of the infection.

If your pet goes swimming regularly, clean its ears with the solution after each outing to prevent ear infections.

Apple cider vinegar can also be given orally to your pet. Add 1 teaspoon to 1 quart of your pet’s drinking water.

Method 4: Use Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil, used in small concentrations and diluted in carrier oil, can effectively treat your pet’s ear infection. It contains compounds that can kill the ear mites which might be the cause behind their ear infection.

Tea tree oil is also beneficial in killing human itch mite that causes scabies.

Note: Tea tree oil can be toxic for cats and dogs if ingested, since their liver cannot process it. To prevent accidental ingestion, use tea tree oil only on areas where they cannot lick.

Things you’ll need:

things you'll need

  • Tea tree essential oil – 3 drops
  • Olive oil – 1 tablespoon

Single-Step Treatment: Add tea tree oil to olive oil and apply in your pet’s ears

dilute tea tree oil with olive oil and apply

  • Add 3 drops of tea tree essential oil to 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
  • Thoroughly mix the two oils.
  • Using a dropper put a few drops of the oil blend in your pet’s outer ears.
  • Swab it gently all over the visible part of the ear.
  • Apply once daily for 1 to 2 weeks to heal the infection.

 Method 5: Use Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a renowned health food and has anti-bacterial and natural healing properties, not just for humans but also for your furry friends! It can be used to heal itchy skin, improve digestion and treat ear infections in pets.

It’s also beneficial in grooming your pet.

Single-Step Treatment: Put a few drops of coconut oil in each ear

use coconut oil

  • Melt the coconut oil into liquid form. Let it cool off a bit before administering it to your pet.
  • Use an eyedropper to put a few drops of the oil in your pet’s ears.
  • Massage gently so that the oil coats the ear canal.
  • Use it twice daily for 1 to 2 weeks to clear up the infection.

Method 6: Use Thornit Ear Powder

If none of the above remedies work, you can try treating your pet’s ears with a commercial Thornit canker powder. It’s a good solution if your pet has ear mites.

The powder can also be applied on the skin to heal skin infections.

Single-Step Treatment: Apply Thornit powder in your pet’s ears

 use Thornit powder

  • Apply ½ teaspoon of Thornit powder into your pet’s ears. Avoid getting it too deep into the inner parts of the ears.
  • Close the ear flaps and gently massage the ears from the outside for a few seconds.

Applied once daily for 1 week, it should provide relief for your furry friend.

Tips

  • You can use absorbent gauze to wipe out the ears after applying any home remedy. Sometimes paper towels or cotton balls can leave behind fibers in the ears that can cause more irritation.
  • Avoid using cotton swabs to clean the inner parts of the ears, as it can hurt your pet’s ears and inflame the sensitive skin.
  • If there is excessive hair growth in the ear canal, it can hinder your pet’s hearing and also give way to infection. Seek a professional groomer’s assistance to keep the hair trimmed when there are no signs of ear troubles. However, do not trim the hair if your pet already has an infection.
  • When bathing your pet, place a cotton ball in both their ears to prevent water from getting inside. A damp environment is a breeding ground for infection.

Summary of How to Treat Ear Infection in Pets

How to Treat Ear Infection in Pets Summary

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