Ear problems are unfortunately very common among dogs. While others may suggest using a chemical solution or immune-suppressive drugs, I prefer to try to treat ear problems in a more natural way. Ear problems are very often the effect of something else wrong in the body, such as a food allergy. Remember when you are treating the ear, you are usually just treating the symptom, and not the cause, and to CURE the ear problem the cause must be found and eradicated. The following are some ideas for cleaning out ears and treating them.
1. Calendula flush; combine in a glass drinking glass 1 cup warm distilled or purified water, 1 teaspoon calendula tincture, and ½ teaspoon sea salt. Mix well. With an ear syringe or dropper, gently and quickly squeeze some of the liquid into the ear canal. Not deeply, but just slightly inside. Try not to let the applicator make a noise as it might scare your pet. Fold the ear flap over and massage in. Do this to other ear, then stand back and let them shake their head. Do this twice a day until irritation and discharge reduces or stops.
2. Always make sure to check and see if anything is actually caught in the ear. Foxtails, those barbed grass seeds, are a menace and can cause major problems if they happen to get caught in an ear and start to burrow inside. A good general idea is to brush out coats and check ears after your animal comes in from running through long grass especially or a swim. This can help keep you find ticks and foxtails in a timely fashion, before they start causing big problems.
3. Sweet almond oil will help soften and dissolve dark, waxy, oily discharge. Apply into ear and massage in.
4. Garlic in olive oil will help in the same ways sweet almond oil will.Take a bottle of olive oil and submerge 2 peeled cloves of garlic (the clove is the smaller "pearl" inside the whole garlic bulb). Let it stand for a week, then strain out garlic and use the oil as mentioned above in tip number 9.
5. Ear mites; low immunity seems to invite mites. Strengthen the immune system with perhaps Immune Plus and get rid of the mites by cleaning out the ears initially. Ear Drops will do a good job of this for you.
6. If the ears are just dirty or waxy, try an essential oil preparation. Take 3 drops Lavender oil, and dilute it in 1 teaspoon witch hazel. Use about 4 drops per ear and massage well. Do this for several days so that the wax is softened and can be wiped clean with a cotton ball. Don't use on cats, as cats are extremely sensitive to essential oils.
7. Colloidal silver. Many people have had good results with this, using it 2 or 3 times daily to clean out ears when necessary. Colloidal Silver can also be taken internally, so it won't hurt if your other pets help to clean out those ears!
8. Dr. Cheryl Schwartz in her book "Four Paws, Five Directions" mentions the fact that many ear problems are actually a sign of kidney problems. You might want to have kidney levels checked with your vet if you think this is a possibility.
9. Acupuncture; Dr. Cheryl Schwartz practices TCM, or Traditional Chinese Medicine and has had lots of success with acupuncture in healing ears. Contact a TCM vet and see if this would be indicated for your animal.
10. Here's a soothing wash for all irritated skin, including ears.
2 pints water
1 heaping teaspoon dried sage
1 heaping teaspoon of thyme
1/4 tsp Epsom salt
Boil everything together for 5 minutes then let it steep overnight. Strain off the herbs the next day and keep the remaining liquid in the fridge. You can add it to shampoo and it also works for ant bites, red lumps and bumps, hot spots, flea dermatitis, etc.
To strengthen the immune system enough so it can heal itself, you need to be a bit of a detective. Why are your dog's ears problematic in the first place? The easiest place to start is diet. Are you feeding a natural diet, or a highly processed one full of unnecessary ingredients and harmful chemicals? Are there grains in the diet - if so which ones? What type of meat is the diet based on - beef or lamb or poultry, etc. If you are not already, I highly recommend feeding a natural diet, which means a diet of raw meat, bones and vegetables. A proper diet will allow the body to heal itself and resolve the internal problems causing the ear problems. Even if you are feeding a natural diet, your animal may still be allergic to an ingredient in it. Start with the basics....offer nothing but one variety of meat, say chicken. If there are no problems after a while, try adding a new ingredient, say pulped carrots. Keep testing each new ingredient slowly until you find the source of the problem....many dogs end up being allergic to grains and beef. Also, if you have recently started a natural diet, your dog may be detoxing.
A good supplement can be invaluable as well. Try K9-Sure or Skin Aid both are excellent.
After you have looked at the diet, look at the environment. Do you live in an area that contains many allergens, like ragweed or moulds? And what about the stress at home, have you had a new addition to the family, either human or animal? Has something changed with your daily routine which could be affecting your pet? Reduce the level of stress as much as possible, and bolster the immune system with a proper diet and supplements. Stress can cause acne in humans - why couldn't it cause ear problems in dogs?
Washing all the bedding the dog sleeps on will help too if you suspect an air-borne allergen. Washing the bedding several times a week will get rid of the allergens that can accumulate.
If your dog swims a lot, try to dry out the ears afterward so they don’t potentially provide a good environment for yeast - warm and moist.
Try to clean out your dog's ears often, definitely more than once a month. Prevention is always better than cure! Even if your dog doesn't have a tendency to have ear problems, a clean ear can do no harm. Please don’t go poking things down your dog’s ears though, just clean what you can see.
A chiropractic adjustment may work wonders for your pet too. Cervical subluxations, or one of the first 7 vertebras being out of joint, can cause numerous problems, including ear infections. Consult a veterinary chiropractor to see if this is indicated for your pet.
Vitamin C and apple cider vinegar can be given internally to help the immune system clear up the ear problem. Vitamin C up to bowel tolerance and a splash of organic unfiltered apple cider vinegar in the drinking water or on their food can help enormously.
The most important part of this article is the part about the immune system. It is important to build up the immune system instead of suppressing it, as suppressing it only drives the problem in deeper. Later the problem may surface in a more serious way. Ask yourself, are you really feeding your animal for optimum health?
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