If your dog has recurring ear infections, there is likely a lifestyle or diet change that will help prevent them.
Food sensitivities, environmental allergies, wax buildup, and moisture all contribute to chronic ear infections, and can be managed at home.
Remember that only a vet can diagnose and treat an infection. If there seems to be pain, your dog is walking in circles, the ear canal is hot and inflamed, get them checked out by a vet.
Other factors include autoimmune disorders, and endocrine disorders, which can be aided by diet switch but should have the guidance of your vet.
The most common sensitivities are to beef, dairy, wheat, egg, chicken, lamb, and soy. Start by removing these to see if the symptoms improve. We also find many dogs are sensitive to potato and other starches, so consider a low carb, low processed diet.
Dogs with food allergies often develop topical yeast infections on the skin or in the ears, so treating the yeast infection is needed. You’ll also want to remove anything that feeds yeast like sugary fruits and vegetables.
Dog’s external ear canals are more vertical than human’s, making it easier for water to stick around and make a hospitable environment for bacteria or yeast. If your dog likes to swim, dry their ears out afterwards with a dry towel. The same goes for bath time. Be gentle and don’t push anything further into the ear, you just want the dry towel to absorb any lingering moisture.
Regularly checking out your dog’s ears can help prevent infections or catch them early. The wax should be shiny and mostly clear, with little to no smell.Sometimes you’ll find environmental dirt in the wax, especially for dogs with open ears like shepherds. That’s totally normal, it’s good to remove visible dirt now and then with a dry cloth so it doesn’t build up.
If there is excessive wax that is dark and thick, you may want to flush the ear with a gentle cleaner every few days. Do not use homemade cleaners containing water as this will add to the moist environment and increase likelihood of bacterial growth. If there are other symptoms like redness, swelling, heat, or signs of pain, book a checkup with your vet.
Shape of the ear and extra hair
Certain breeds like poodles and schnauzers have excess hair far down the ear canal. These can trap debris and hold moisture, you can pluck out the fine hairs to allow more air flow. This may not be necessary if your dog doesn't get ear infections often, but of course on this blog post we're talking about if your dog is suffering from recurring infections. Don’t add solution on the same day as plucking, the skin may be irritated from hair removal and the solution could burn.
Other breeds like Shar Peis have narrow ear canals that make it easier for debris to get stuck and cause infection.
Of course any dog with large floppy ears like spaniels have more likelihood of infection because the heavy flaps reduce air flow. You can’t change the way your dog’s ears are built, but keeping an eye on the wax and smell will help. You can preventatively add ear cleaners but we don’t suggest doing this more than once a month at the most.