Recurrent Ear Infections in Pets

Your vet should look for underlying causes if your pet suffers from recurrent ear infections.

Recurrent ear infections in pets can have many possible causes.  Rather than just prescribing more topical antibiotic/steroid medications like Mometamax or Otomax, it is important for animal guardians and veterinarians to look at underlying causes to avoid frustrating relapses and repeat veterinary visits.Many animal guardians will often erroneously think that their animal companions have ear mites; however, ear mites can be easily ruled out by having the ear discharge examined under the microscope.

A proper veterinary otic exam can also rule out ear polyps, foreign bodies, and growths down the ear canals. The most common underlying causes of ear infections in dogs are inhalant/contact allergies and/or food allergies.

Amongst the many potential contact allergies are: molds, grasses, trees, dander, house dust mites, and pollens.  Many of these problems tend to be seasonal.  Diagnosis of inhalant/contact allergies is often made on clinical history; however, definitive diagnosis requires blood and/or skin testing.  Treatment not only addresses the overgrowth of yeast or bacteria in the ear canals, but also must treat the underlying allergic causes either through symptomatic antihistamine or cortisone therapy, or through allergy shots.

Because many pets with food allergies will often present with recurrent ear infections, any pet with repetitive ear infections should also have a 6-8 week trial with a novel hypoallergenic diet such as rabbit, duck or venison based foods.   Unless the potential underlying causes are addressed, pets will continue to suffer from relapses and veterinary visit expense.

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31 Comments

  1. i have been using a mixture of cider vinegar and water in my dogs ears for about a month now.i heard about it on a natural medicine website. it seems to have worked. the acid kills the yeast infection and has greatly reduced the scratching and smell of the ears.i can’t afford all the tests by the vet nor the medications so this is a great substitute, as long as it works.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 19, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Thanks for sharing. I have also seen many pets benefit from a 50-50 mixture of vinegar and water flushed down ears as needed.

  3. Has taken a while to narrow it down, but after changing Bailey (lab/husky mix) to grain free food we were able to stop giving him prednisone that he was prescribed for recurring sores on his gums…we were told they were due to auto immune problem. Since then we had 2 back to back yeast infections and fur starting falling out too – poor pup, I noticed his breath had gotten smelly when I switched flavors…turns out my boy is NOT good on the duck (or other poultry based food) that is favored for allergy prone dogs…but we have been on a strict grain free salmon based food now for a few weeks and he is doing better and better. We also give both dogs the probiotics enzymes that Dr. Dym suggested a while ago. Have learnt alot from you and this site.

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Thanks for sharing your story about Bailey. Sounds like you are on right path. Glad we could be of help. Certainly tell your friends and family of our services.

  5. After doing a lot of research for my daughter, I came to the conclusion that her dogs problem was yeast. I found this article that explained the science of yeast and the issues that it can cause our pets to experience.
    http://www.dinovite.com/blog/2011/04/yikes-its-yeast/

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 21, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks for sharing. Veterinary exam though is still needed to diagnose yeast by having cells or discharge examined under microscope.

  7. Pingback: Yeast Infection In Cats Ears

  8. Hi, could you please tell me, how do you mix it/ratio/, so I could use it as well?
    Thank you so much
    Jana

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 5, 2013 at 12:05 am

    What is it you are looking to mix?

  10. Thank you very much for asking me. I overlooked the above answer about ratio 50-50 for Vinegar and water.
    Jana

  11. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 6, 2013 at 12:50 am

    Yes Jana. 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water makes a great ear cleaning solution in pets.

  12. I also have a holistic cure for yeast in pets ears,infuse garlic cloves with olive oil,put 2-3 cloves into 1 cup of olive oil and let sit in covered container for 4-5 days,strain and use a small syringe,which can be gotten at any Tractor Supply or other co~op store by the packge,they are about 2.00 for 15 to a pack,fill half full and flush the oil infusion into ear,use a bit more in larger breed dogs

  13. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJanuary 17, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    Thanks for sharing your information. Hopefully some of our blog readers will give it a try.

  14. How often do you use the Garlic/Olive oil mixture?

  15. Hey Missy~I use it in the morning and again in the evening for about 3 days,the ear should be cured by then,ALSO, you can get the Walmart brand of yeast infection cream(recommended to me by a vet)micozinole~ a large tube for $5.00 the same stuff that women use for yeast infections and it works as well,I use the two in combination,I put the cream in either with the syringe or my little finger,and I buy the dollar store brand of childrens earache medicine to use that dropper for the olive oil and garlic mixture in farther in the canal and more safely~in fact,I mix a bit of the earache med w/the garlic olive oil mix to kill the pain that occurs with this infection in their little ears,they rest much better,go to sleep almost immediatly if they havent been sleeping because of the ear pain/infection,and they immediately get their appetite back because the pain is gone and it no longer hurts to chew~if you need to ask me more questions please feel free to email me at mamaskwerl47@aol.com

  16. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 14, 2013 at 12:30 am

    Can be used daily if needed.

  17. I have a cat family….rather like the ‘old woman in the shoe with so many children’ etc…but I got the shoe box and 10 kitties…..who have given each other earmites and infections. Had 5 hat were always indoors and then introduced 4 weeeee babies that had to be bottle feed from a feral and they had mites I guess? because my others never had. Oh and the feral Dad decided he has had enough of outside and harsh living and wanted to be with the babies….and he is not healthy or was told when I had him neutered…but that said of course with so may I do not have the money to keep them as I wish I could so heed lots of home ideas for healthy treatments. See the ear ideas above and need to implement that right away. Any ideas of keeping litter boxes better …mercy have lots of them and am always removing pooh etc….rather help many than see so many feral or die…any help will be so greatly appreciated. Dry food is what I can afford but they are always hungry and LOVE the moist..thoughts an suggestions of inexpensive healthy foods? Cat food is going up and up and up!

  18. Use Natural Oils
    The easiest, and most effective home remedy I’ve found for killing Ear Mites in my cats’ ears, is, to use warm oil. Olive, Canola or Almond Oil are probably the best to use. In a pinch, you can even use a vegetable oil such as Crisco brand. If you have some Vitamin E on hand, you can add a few drops of that to the original oil. Vitamin E, which is a natural antioxidant, will promote healing and help reduce inflammation.

    How to Warm and Apply Natural Oils
    To kill Ear Mites, fill a metal teaspoon about half full with the oil of your choice. Then, light a wooden match and hold it a few inches away from the underside of the spoon. Move the match back and forth to warm the oil evenly; it doesn’t take very long. You really don’t have to warm the natural oil first, but I think it works better. It’s soothing to your cat, as opposed to using cold oil in this home remedy. Make sure the oil is just warm, and NOT hot before you proceed to the next step.
    Unless your cat is totally complacent, you’ll need to enlist a helper to hold him/her. If your cat still struggles, you can wrap its body in a blanket leaving only its head stuck out. This way, it can’t scratch, kick or push you away with its paws.

    Then, carefully hold your cat’s ears back, one at a time, and use an eye dropper to place several drops of the warmed oil inside. To use this home remedy to eradicate Ear Mites, don’t place the natural oil into the outer ear. Instead, drop the oil into your cat’s inner ear. When you’re done with one ear, release the outer ear, and use your thumb and forefinger to gently massage your cat’s ear. This will move the oil around inside so all the affected areas are covered.
    hope this helps~let me know~as for litter odor,pour baking soda into a quart jar~use 6 drops of essential oils,any smell works,I like eucalyptus,pinesol works as well~put a lid on it and shake for at least 1o mins to mix it all well,sprinkle 1/2 to 1 c to each box and scoop the poop~but the cat food at a REALLY cheap price at Food Lion,Save A Lot or Aldi sometime other stores have it cheap/on sale(their brand) as well, wont hurt to do some calls and research before heading out gas prices being what they are~Food Lion used to have them 20 for 4.90,their brand,some may still do,the ones here don’t anymore tho,wish they did,I have several that have adopted me and 6 BIG dogs to feed on a SSI income (over 130 a month just for the dogs)

  19. ALMOST FORGOT!!! IMPORTANT LAST STEP~APOLOGIES~ HERE IT IS:Wait awhile, then have your helper hold your cat again. The second part of this home remedy for
    eradicating Ear Mites from your cat’s ears, is, to clean his/her ears out. Use cotton balls to gently remove the loosened dirt out of your cat’s ears. You can also use cotton swabs,I PREFER THE ONES WITH THE “PUFFIER/BIGGER’ ENDS~I GOT JOHNSONS SAFETY SWABS~BUT I’M SURE THEY HAVE STORE BRANDS AS WELL~ to remove the dirt. Just don’t stick them into the inner ear or you can damage your cat’s ear drum!

    Repeat this home remedy of applying oil and cleaning your cat’s ears once a day, every day, for the next 3 weeks. The process takes that long because you’ll need to kill the Ear Mite eggs as they hatch.

  20. Thank you SO much for that ; good info!! Poor kitties are all so miserable with this but I did try the 50/50 vinegar just to get me started and they are mellowing out after that ‘ordeal’ ;o] I will try the warm oil also…bet that would feel really good at this juncture of sore ears etc…..again thanks so much!!

  21. Oh Honey~I am MORE than happy to help!Anytime at all,my email is mamaskwerl47@aol.com,I raised a squirrel from a 5 week old baby,he is 13 yrs now,so I got the nickname MamaSkwerl~lol~the vinegar being an acid probably did help but I’m sure it stung quite a bit because of the soreness that mites cause,you’ll be ok now,I pierce a vitamin E capsule with a safety pin or a tack with the “clear” or colored heads on them(they work best~and drop it on their ears that way by squeezing the capsule just a bit~ALSO~if I haven’t already mentioned this,there is a “Rexall” brand of baby earache medicine at the Dollar Store,big bottle,worth the money $3-$5,I use it alone if I know they’re hurting or mix it in 30% earache med with 70% garlic olive mixture and use the earache bottle dropper for applying it in the canal,those are great for anything in the ears!Also,as a wash you can use any of these recipes:

    Witch Hazel – Many refer to Witch Hazel as natures “Neosporin”. Witch Hazel works great to cleanse, protect against infection & encourage quicker healing of minor skin breaks. Witch Hazel also has great anti-inflammatory properties as well.

    Organic Apple Cider Vinegar and Purified Water. Mixed equal parts. – Apple cider vinegar has been used for decades for external and internal folk medicine. It has been proven to heal naturally and kill germs as well! This is a very gentle and effective solution that many pet owners turn to on a weekly basis for their pets ear health.

    Hydrogen Peroxide and Purified Water. Mixed equal parts – Besides the obvious use to cleanse wounds, Hydrogen Peroxide is one of the best ways to dissolve ear wax.
    xxxx <# if you need any kind of help please feel free to let me know

  22. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 24, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing.

  23. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 24, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    Great suggestions.

  24. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 24, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Wonderfully spelled out

  25. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 24, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Try low carb dry and wet food called Wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds.

  26. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE LOVELY COMMENTS! MEANS SO MUCH TO ME~I HAVE TO DO MY “RESEARCH/HOMEWORK” BECAUSE I HAVE 6 FLOP EARED FUZZY DOGS THAT GETTHESE AL THE TIME~CONSTANTLY CHECKING THEIR EARS

  27. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 26, 2013 at 12:09 am

    You are very welcome

  28. THANK YOU! I AM GOING TO DO THAT I APPRECIATE THAT INFORMATION AS I AM ALWAYS LOOKING FOR WAYS TO STOP/CONTROL THIS UNCOMFORTABLE INFECTION IN MY BABIES XXXX

  29. Hi my dog has a reocurring ear infection and the doctor prescribed mometamax august 2013 it has come back and I still have more can I use until I take dog back to vet, thanks.

  30. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianDecember 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Should not be a problem trying the mometamax although it is also best to have a vet check as well.

  31. Thank you I will take her soon, happy holidays.

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