Can I Use Natural Home Remedies To Treat My Dog’s Ear Infection?

Ear infections are one of the most common medical conditions diagnosed in dogs. But what causes these infections and can dog owners treat them at home?

What Causes Ear Infections In Dogs?

In order to understand why a dog’s ears can become infected, it’s important to be aware of the anatomy of the dog ear.

The outer part of the ear is known as the pinna and is the part that we humans see and often pet. The pinnae are mobile (think about a dog’s ears going up) and can move independently of one another. The purpose of the pinnae is to take sound waves and funnel them into the ear canal which is also considered part of the outer ear.

The middle ear is made up of the eardrum and various muscles.

The inner ear includes the cochlea and the vestibular system.

The majority of ear infections occur in the outer ear, an infection known as otitis externa. The middle ear and inner ear can also become infected, known as otitis media and otitis interna. These infections are rather uncommon.

So what actually causes these infections?

Trapped Yeast/Bacteria

When yeast and bacteria are trapped in a moist environment they tend to multiply, resulting in an infection.


Food and environmental allergies can both cause swelling and skin irritation. It’s common to see dogs develop both atopic dermatitis and chronic ear infections due to an underlying allergy.

Foreign Body

Dogs love to sniff around and to stick their noses where they don’t belong! This can result in a foreign body, such as a plant seed, becoming lodged in the ear canal. Inflammation will result due to irritation and infection will follow.

Water In The Ear

There is no denying that many dogs love to swim! While swimming is a great form of exercise, dogs that swim are much more likely to get water in their ears. When water enters the ear canal and stays there, it creates the perfect moist environment for yeast and bacteria.

Due to the shape/size of the pinnae, dogs with long, droopy ears have a higher risk of developing an ear infection.

Can I Use Natural Home Remedies To Treat My Dog's Ear Infection? 2

Dog Breeds That Commonly Develop Ear Infections

Dogs breeds that are frequently diagnosed with ear infections include:

  • Basset Hounds
  • Bloodhounds
  • Great Danes
  • Springer Spaniel
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Mastiff
  • Coon Hound
  • Irish Setter
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Bichon Frise
  • Maltese

With the right (or wrong) conditions, any dog can develop an ear infection.

Signs That Your Dog Might Have An Ear Infection

Symptoms of an ear infection typically include:

  • Head-Shaking
  • Odor
  • Redness
  • Brown/Yellow Discharge
  • Excess Earwax
  • Scabbing
  • Pawing At The Ears
  • Hearing Loss

If the inner ear becomes infected and the vestibular system is impacted, dogs can develop a condition known a vestibular syndrome. Dogs with vestibular syndrome may have difficulty with their balance, could develop a head tilt, and might have nystagmus.

Are There Effective Home Remedies For Treating A Dog’s Ear Infection?

It’s always tempting to try and treat your pet at home, especially when chronic conditions occur. The following are often shared on the internet as possible natural home remedies to try:

1. Cleaning the ear with a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar.
2. Apply a warm compress to the ear several times a day.
3. Applying coconut oil to the ear using a cotton swab.
4. Flushing green tea to the dog’s ear.
5. Applying yogurt to the dog’s ear.

The reality is that there are no studies to show the effectiveness of these so-called natural home remedies and if the eardrum has burst or other factors complicate the issue, it could make things worse.

In order to properly diagnosed an ear infection, your veterinarian will need to swab the ear and perform an ear cytology. Then, depending on the results, an antifungal or antibiotic needs to be prescribed. For dogs with recurring infections, additional testing, such as allergy testing, should be performed to determine if there is an underlying cause.

Can I Use Natural Home Remedies To Treat My Dog's Ear Infection? 4

You Shouldn’t Use Natural Treatments On Your Dog’s Ear Infection – But You Can Take Steps To Prevent Infections!

There are steps you can take at home to help prevent recurrent ear infections.

Clean Your Dog’s Ears Weekly

Cleaning a dog’s ears is easy! Using an appropriate ear cleaner, flush the ear. Before allowing your dog to shake their head, massage the base of the ear to encourage wax and debris to break loose. You’ll typically hear a “squish squish squish” sound as you do this.

Allow your dog to shake their head several times. It’s this shaking motion that wicks the debris out of the lower part of the ear canal and pushes it up and out of the ear.

Once your dog has settled a bit, take a cotton ball and clean the pinnae.

Cleaning can be done weekly unless your veterinarian recommends a different schedule.

The Top Ear Cleaners Available

A few of the most popular ear cleaners available online include:

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner
  • Epi-Otic may be used for routine ear cleansing in healthy ear canal or prior to administration of other ear preparations
  • A mild alcohol-free cleansing and drying solution for routine maintenance of otitis externa
  • Epi-Otic has a low pH of 2.2 and contains no chlorhexidine or alcohol

Last update on 2020-08-07 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Virbac Epi-Otic has been available for decades and dog owners love it! The formula helps to prevent microbes from sticking to the inside of the ear. The liquid also helps to dry the ear.

Zymox Ear Cleanser
  • Ear care for dogs and cats - soothes ear infections, redness and inflammation for pets of all ages
  • Gentle no-sting formula helps ease painful ear infections caused by bacteria, fungi and yeast
  • Solution provides a safe, natural alternative to antibiotics with 1% Hydrocortisone for itch relief

Last update on 2020-08-07 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

This non-irritating cleaner has a pleasant scent! You’ll rest easy knowing the enzyme system will help maintain a balanced environment inside of the ear.

MalAcetic Ear Cleaner
  • Antibacterial
  • Apple scent
  • Safe for dogs and cats

Last update on 2020-08-07 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

3. MalAcetic Ear Cleaner: This cleaner has been specifically formulated to balance the skin PH.

Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution
  • Cat and dog ear cleaner solution specially formulated to deodorize and clean the external ear canal
  • Ear cleaner for dogs and cats; thoroughly yet gently cleanses, dries, acidifies and deodorizes
  • Alcohol and lactic acid help dry and acidify the external ear canal while aloe softens the skin

Last update on 2020-08-07 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Vetoquinol Ear Cleaning Solution will clean, deodorize, and dry the ear. It’s gentle enough to use regularly while bathing your dog,

Skout’s Honor: Probiotic Ear Cleaner
  • SUPPORTS NATURAL DEFENSES: An ear cleaner that works to clean and soothe, all while being safe for pets with sensitive ears.
  • RESTORE EAR HEALTH: This natural and non medicated formula restores harmony and helps stabilize the ear’s natural microbiome for a happier,...
  • GOOD BACTERIA: This formula helps supports good bacteria that naturally calm inflammation and prevent bad bacteria from taking over.

Last update on 2020-08-07 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Skout’s Honor: Probiotic Ear Cleaner contains aloe vera to help soothe dry and itchy ears.

Pet MD Ear Cleaning Wipes
  • ADVANCED VETERINARY FORMULA Designed to Gently Clean, Deodorize and Dry Your Pets Ears
  • GENTLE and SAFE for Regular Use which Prevents Ear Infections, Reduces Wax Build Up and Removes Debris in and Around the Ear
  • 100 CONVENIENT, ALCOHOL FREE, Soothing and Non-Irritating Disposable Ear Wipes for Dogs. For Dogs Over 12 Weeks Old

Last update on 2020-08-07 / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Some dogs simply don’t handle a liquid being poured in their ear. These ear cleaning wipes can help an owner clean without an absolute meltdown taking place.

Your veterinarian might recommend a specific cleaner depending upon the results of the ear cytology.

Always Dry Your Dog’s Ears After Swimming

If your dog is a swimmer be sure to dry their ears after swimming! Use a cotton ball to gently swab out the ear.

Consider Allergy Medications

If cost is a concern but your veterinarian suspects that allergies are an underlying cause of your dog’s ear infections, consider trying allergy medications. Most allergy medications are inexpensive and can help a wide variety of allergies.

Your veterinarian can recommend an allergy medication and the correct dosage.

Change Your Pet’s Diet

If it has been determined that your dog has a food allergy you’ll want to change their diet. This can really help your dog live a more comfortable life!

To Pluck Or Not To Pluck

Dogs do have hair in their ear canals. There is some debate over whether plucking this hair can be beneficial. Ear hair can prevent foreign bodies from entering the ear, however, if there is too much hair, moisture might be kept in the ear.

Plucking must be done carefully or it can cause additional issues. Have a qualified groomer or your veterinarian pluck the hair if you decide to give it a try.

Ultimately, every dog is different and what will work well for one won’t work for another. Figuring out the right combination of preventative measures and treatments will take time and patience.