Here's an informative article that I thought I would pass on...hope you find it helpful! –Kim
Ear infections are one of the most common reasons that pet owners visit their veterinarian. Typically, I would see an increased number of ear infections in the spring.
Now is a good time to review ear anatomy, what causes ear infections, and exact steps you can use to prevent and treat them at home.
The ear consists of the outer portion (the pinna), the 2 sections of the ear canal (the vertical ear canal and horizontal ear canal), the ear drum and the inner ear.
Most ear infections involve the outer ear, meaning the vertical and horizontal ear canals.
Your pet keeps shaking his head and scratching at his ears. Often you will see a foul-smelling black, yellow or brown discharge. The ears may be very red and tender.
Ear mites are infectious parasites primarily found in young cats. They are spread through direct contact from cat to cat. Ear infections are most typical in dogs. Most ear infections are caused by an underlying allergy. Some are caused by water in the ear after bathing or swimming. Dogs with large floppy ears, such as Basset Hounds, are prone to infections as their ear canals have poor air circulation, trapping moisture and allowing bacteria and yeast to grow.
The basis for PREVENTING ear infections is learning how to clean your pet's ears properly.
How to Clean Your Pet's Ears Properly
You will need an ear cleanser, cotton balls, and may need someone to help gently restrain your pet by holding their head while you clean his/her ears.
Apply cleanser to the ear as shown or by soaking a cotton ball and placing it in the ear. Attempt to fill each ear canal until it is overflowing or apply approximately 1 teaspoon (5 ml) of Ear Cleanser. This can be a veterinary cleanser, or a mixture of vinegar and water.
Massage the cleanser into the ear canal by gently massaging the base of the ear where the cartilage turns. Massage for about a minute to dislodge the attached wax. If necessary, occlude the canal with a small amount of cotton during this process to protect against drenching, should your pet shake his/her head. For maximum benefit, allow cleanser to remain in the ear canal for at least 5 minutes before attempting to manually clean.
Let your pet shake out any excess cleanser.
Repeat the above steps in the other ear.
Don't insert cotton swabs into the ears! They should only be used in the visible portion of the ear and ear canal.
Treating Ear Infections
When your pet has an ear infection, you need to be doing more than just cleaning it.
CLEAN THEM. White vinegar (acetic acid) is very effective at removing debris from the ears and killing the yeast and bacteria responsible for ear infections. *If your dog or cat has red, open wounds, do not use this, as it will be painful. You need to use a soothing topical first (i.e., olive oil and Vitamin E).
Dilute the vinegar with water 50:50. Pick up a syringe from your local pharmacy and put 5 ml of the vinegar solution per 20 lbs of body weight into the affected ear. (Your cat would get 2.5 ml or 1/2 tsp). Grab the ear where it attaches to the head (at the ear base), gently squeeze your thumb and forefinger together, rubbing the solution deep into the ear canals. Wipe the inside of the ear well with cotton balls to remove debris coming from the ear canal. Continue to do this daily for 5-7 days. For dogs with recurring infections, this can be done weekly.
HEALING OILS. This is especially helpful if your pet's ears are inflamed and difficult to touch. You can use a mixture of 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil combined with 1 capsule of Vitamin E oil and insert that into your pets ear. Let it soak for 5 minutes, then rub the base of the ear well and wipe out excess debris with a cotton ball.
BURROW'S SOLUTION. This is one that I discuss for use in Hot Spots, but it can also be used for ear infections and ear cleaning. It is a solution of aluminum acetate in water. It is used as an astringent wet dressing to relieve inflammatory conditions of the skin, such as swelling, allergies and bruises. Burrow's solution has antibacterial effects, and will inhibit the growth of bacteria commonly found in ear infections. Apply 5-6 drops in both ears, cleaning twice daily.
STEP 2 - Treating the Infection
LESSEN THE INFLAMMATION. Most ear infections produce red, inflamed ears, so it is important to decrease the inflammation. ALOE or CALENDULA essential oil can be applied topically in the ears twice daily to decrease inflammation.
HERBAL INFUSION. Another oil infusion consists of: OREGON GRAPE, MARSHMALLOW AND GARLIC. Soak the dried herbs overnight in olive oil – this can also be mixed with Vitamin E.
TREAT THE INFECTION. GARLIC, SAGE and THYME have antibacterial and antifungal properties. One treatment is to soak garlic cloves overnight with Calendula oil. Remove the garlic and instill the calendula-garlic mixture twice daily.
HOMEOPATHIC: SILICA. Useful for dogs with recurrent ear infections. Most have excessive debris. The typical dose is 30C twice daily.
Common organisms causing the infections include yeast (suspect this if the debris is brown and has a sweet odor). Yeast often responds well to vinegar.
Less commonly, there is a bacteria called Pseudomonas. Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a specific species of bacteria that is resistant to almost every possible antibiotic. This is often found as a cause of chronic, recurring ear infections.
This is as a wound cream, but it also has activity against Pseudomonas. The cream can be prepared in water for an easier ear administration.
EDTA is a binder of metals that are important to the bacterial cell wall. It is sold in veterinary clinics as TrizEDTA, a 4 ounce container to which 112 ml of distilled water is added. The method of usage is to place the TrizEDTA in the ear. In practice I would combine it with injectable Baytril, and I found it to be effective for Pseudomonas.
STEP 3 - Preventing the Infection From Coming Back
Most recurring ear infections have an underlying cause.
ALLERGY DIET. For dogs that get recurring ear infections, it is important to try a less allergenic diet. It should include a completely different protein with minimal added ingredients. For example, one commercial diet is made of fish and sweet potato.
BIOFLAVONOIDS. These are the wonderful groups of structures found in the pigment of fruits and vegetables. Quercetin has been effective for people with allergies and may be effective in dogs. The dose is 25 mg per 10 lbs of body weight daily.
FATTY ACIDS. These are a must for any allergy that triggers recurring ear infections: flax oil for dogs (1 tsp per cup of dog food) and fish oil for cats (1 capsule per 10 lbs). I advise therapeutic doses of EFA's at 1000 mg per 10 lbs, daily.
VITAMIN C. This may help your pet, and is worth a try. It suppresses the product released from cells in the body that causes itching (histamine), and is an antioxidant. Start with a low dose of 100 mg twice daily per 10 lbs of body weight.
ANTIOXIDANTS. Vitamin E may help: the dose is 100 IU per 10 lbs of body weight, once daily.
ANTIHISTAMINES. Benadryl is the most commonly used antihistamine. It is given at a dose of 1 mg per pound of body weight, 2-3 times a day. Cats respond well to Chlortripolon at 2 mg, 2-3 times a day. It is best to consult your veterinarian before using these medications. It often takes 14 days of using these to see if they are helping.
Some ear infections simply cannot be controlled with the above steps (although MOST can). In those advanced cases surgery may be your only option. BUT if you are diligent in cleaning, and attempt to prevent the infection in the first place, you can AVOID surgery.Source: http://www.theonlinevet.com/members/latest_articles/earinfections.php (requires membership)
Copyright © 2011 Four Paws Online Ltd
Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM has been a practicing Veterinarian for almost 20 years. He is a strong advocate of Natural Pet Health Care, and knows that the most important way to heal our pets and prevent disease is through proper nutrition. He developed Ultimate Canine to give our dogs that extra advantage – something that will provide them with everything they need to develop stronger immune systems to fight disease, heal sore or stiff joints, and help them live longer, happier lives. Dr. Andrew Jones' main focus is on alternative, non-traditional remedies for pets. His interest in alternative pet medicine culminated in the writing of his book, Veterinary Secrets Revealed.