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Dog Ear Infection Symptoms & Treatment

This post is written by our holistic veterinarian at "I and love and you", Dr. Angie Krause, DVM, CVA, CCRT

Ear infections are miserable for dogs and the people that love them. Between the constant scratching, twice daily ear drops, and repeat vet visits, no one is happy! In this article, I am going to teach you how to identify ear infections, how to treat them and how to stop the cycle of repeat infections.

Symptoms of Ear Infections

  • Itchy, red ears
  • Brown ear discharge
  • Head shaking
  • Foul smell around ears (often like a corn chip)

What Causes Ear Infections?

Dogs that suffer from recurrent ear infections usually have a food allergy. It’s also possible for your pup to have an environmental allergy such as dust mites, grass or pollen. Other causes of ear infections that are not recurrent include swimming, floppy ears (think Basset Hound ears) or really hairy ears (think Poodle ears).

How to Treat Ear Infections

It’s important that you have your veterinarian perform an otoscopic exam of your dog’s ear, to ensure the eardrum is not affected and there are no other contributing factors (like a foxtail or other foreign object). Once your pup’s ear infection is diagnosed, using topical medications from your veterinarian is the best and fastest way to clear up the infection. Be sure to continue the medication for as many days as prescribed. It can be tempting to stop giving ear drops when your pup feels better. Stopping the medication too soon can make the next infection more difficult to treat. Taking your dog to recheck appointments is critical to ensure the infection is completely clear.

How to Prevent Ear Infections

If you keep your dog’s ears dry after bathing or swimming, and they continue to get infections, it’s time to identify a possible food allergy. Here are a few strategies to identify your dog’s allergies.

  1. Eliminate grains. In my experience, corn and wheat are common culprits in repeat ear infections. Try switching to a food without these ingredients.
  2. Change the protein source. Your dog may be allergic to the meat source in their diet. If you are using a chicken-based diet, consider switching to a beef diet. Be sure to read the ingredients carefully as many pet food companies use several sources of animal protein.
  3. Novel protein. This means feeding your dog a meat source they have likely never eaten before. Popular examples include kangaroo and alligator.
  4. Amino Acid Based Diet. If you have tried several diets and your pup continues to get ear infections, it’s time for an amino acid-based diet. In this particular diet, proteins are broken down into individual amino acids. This makes the body less likely to react. You can learn more about how I use an amino acid-based diet in my practice here.

Does your pup suffer from ear infections? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below.

With love,

Dr. Angie

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