Is your dog shaking his head and itching his ears? Understanding why your dog has itchy ears is the first step to treating it. Generally, when your dog shakes their head, it is to remove something from his ear which is causing discomfort or irritation.

This head shaking may well remove something that should not be in there, however, the pain or irritation may remain, causing prolonged head shaking.

If your dog is shaking their head a lot, it could be a sign of something more severe, such as an ear infection.

 

What causes a dog ear infection?

Dogs are more likely to pick up ear infections and problems than humans are. This likelihood is because your dog’s ear canal sits in a more upright position than ours does.

This vertical orientation forms a right angle in the ear, meaning that fluid gets retained, leading to increased infection levels from bacteria, yeast, and ear mites.

The main causes of an ear infection are:

    • Excessive Moisture. A wet environment is ideal for infectious bacteria to grow. 
    • Allergic Reactions. If your dog eats something or comes into contact with something that it is allergic to, it can cause infection.
    • Disorders. Autoimmune and endocrine disorders can lead to ear infections. Thyroid disease is a common endocrine disorder.
    • Wax. A buildup of wax in your dog’s ears will leave it more prone to ear infections.
    • Foreign Bodies. Anything in your dog’s ear that shouldn’t be there can lead to infection.
    • Injury. An infection can follow if your dog has suffered or is recovering from an injury to its ear canal.
    • Excessive Cleaning. Dogs love to clean their ears, but excessive cleaning will lead to excess moisture in the ear and subsequent risk of infection.

 

Treatment

The only way to get your dog to stop itching his ears is to deal with the cause of the irritation. If your dog is in discomfort or is itching their ears the following home remedies or topical treatments that can help.

Firstly we will look at home remedies…

 

Home Remedies

Here is our selection of the best home remedies that have been tried and tested:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Mix up some water with apple cider vinegar, and spray on the infected area. This mixture acts as a natural antiseptic, removing pain and inflammation. Witch hazel is a similar alternative. 

2. Mullein and Garlic Oils

Equal parts of mullein and garlic oils will kill germs and reduce pain and swelling. You should maintain this treatment for ten days.

3. Pau D’Arco and Mineral Oil

Equal parts of Pau D’Arco and mineral oil massaged into your dog’s ears will kill bacteria. Maintain this for several days, three times per day. 

4. Vitamin C

Regular doses of vitamin C will promote good health and help your dog fight off infections in the future, by boosting your dog’s immune system

 

Topical Treatments

There are several natural products available to buy as well. Here are some of our top picks.

1. Mullein Oil

This is a great ear solution that’s highly recommended by some holistic vets for common ear infections.

2. Calendula Lotion

Calendula is a good solution for topical use mainly because it has great healing properties, along with comfrey, which can also be used on the ears.

3. Colloidal Silver

This is another choice worth looking at: a couple of drops can be applied to your dog’s ears each day for approximately 7 to 10 days until some pain relief is observed.

 

When to visit a Vet

If your dog is still in discomfort despite their ears being clean, call your vet as soon as possible. Dog ear infections can worsen quickly, and in the worst cases can lead to loss of hearing. Your vet will give your dog’s ears a thorough cleaning, and remove excess fur. They can also prescribe antibiotics to help reduce the infection.

For ongoing treatment, they may give you an antibiotic wash for your dog’s ears. While the vet is dealing with your dog’s ear infection, it may be a good idea to ask them to conduct an allergy test on your dog.

 

How to prevent dog ear infections

Like most conditions, prevention is usually better than cure. Try following these guidelines to reduce the risk of ear infection in your dog:

    • Regularly clean your dog’s ears – a minimum of once every month
    • Regularly inspect your dog’s ears for signs of infection, mites, and foreign bodies.
    • Dampen a cotton ball using mineral oil and carefully clean the ears
    • Keep your dog’s ears free from excessive hair, so that air can flow freely, keeping the ear canal dry.