How to Treat Dog Ear Infection Without the Vet: Complete Guide

how to treat dog ear infection without vet

When you have a dog, you love him like he’s a part of the family. This is why it can be really hard to see him in pain, such as when he has an ear infection. It can definitely help to learn how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet.

If you have the chance, you should always go to the vet whenever your dog has a problem. However, there are some situations where it’s not an option, such as when you’re in a remote area with your dog.

Now, you might be wondering exactly how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet. There are actually a few different ways you can do this.

Some Things to Know About Dog Ear Infections

You may not have known this, but an ear infection, or infection of the external ear canal, is referred to as otitis externa. It’s one of the most common infections that you’ll see in dogs. Inflammation will have an impact on the layer of cells that line the external portion of the ear canal.

However, there are also otitis media and interna, which are infections of the middle and inner ear canal, respectively. These are often a result of the spread of an infection that started in the outer ear. They can be very serious and could result in facial paralysis, deafness, and vestibular signs.

This is why if your dog has an ear infection, you should recognize and treat it as soon as possible. Prevention is even better.

dog to be treated by a vet

Image from Pixabay

There are some breeds that are more prone to ear infections, including miniature poodles, Old English Sheepdogs, and cocker spaniels. Generally, it’s the breeds that have really hairy or large and floppy ears. However, you should be aware that ear infections can occur in any dog, regardless of breed.


Before you know how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet, you might want to know about the symptoms of these ear infections.

The main thing that you should know is that ear infections are painful for your dog. Often, his ears will become red and inflamed. Sometimes, they’ll even develop an offensive odor.

A lot of the time, there will be a yellowish or black discharge coming from the ears. In cases of chronic ear infections, the ears can look thickened and crusty. The ear canals can also become narrowed, or stenotic, due to the chronic inflammation.

However, not all dogs show symptoms when they have ear infections. Some just have discharge in the ear canal and a buildup of wax.

What you should definitely remember is that if your dog has an ear infection, he’s probably in pain and may whine. Many dogs will constantly shake their heads and scratch their ears to try to relieve the discomfort. It makes sense, then, if you can’t get to the vet, that you know how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet.


Your dog’s ear canal forms an L-shape that tends to hold in fluid. It’s more vertical than a human’s ear canal. This makes dogs more prone to ear infections than humans generally are.

Typically, ear infections are caused by yeast, bacteria, or a combination of both of these. In puppies, ear mites are also a common source of infection.

There are a few factors that can predispose your dog to ear infections. These include the following:

Bacterial vs. yeast/fungal infections


Image from Pixabay

The most common cause of ear infections is bacteria. Your dog has beneficial bacteria in his ears that help control pathogenic bacteria. However, this balance doesn’t always stay intact.

For example, if your dog goes swimming, bacteria from contaminated pond water can get into his ear and colonize when it outcompetes the beneficial bacteria for nutrients. It’s also possible that bacteria, such as staphylococcus, can reproduce too quickly in your dog’s ear if his immune system is stressed.

There are also fungi in your dog’s ear, even under normal circumstances. They coexist with the bacteria in your dog’s microbiome. Yeast and fungi can become overgrown if your dog has immune system problems or leaky gut.

Very often, it’s either bacteria, fungi, or both that cause ear infections in dogs. It could also be an immune dysfunction, such as hormone imbalances, allergies, or hypothyroidism.

How to Prevent Ear Infections in Your Dog

It might help to learn how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet, but prevention is always the best option. There are a few things you can do to minimize your dog’s chances of getting an ear infection in the first place.

One common cause of ear infections is excess moisture. It makes sense, then, that you should dry your dog’s ears thoroughly after he takes a bath or goes swimming.

It’s a good idea to clean your dog’s ears at home to help prevent ear infections. You should fill your dog’s ear canal with a cleaning solution, and massage the vertical ear canal from the outside. Make sure to wipe it out with absorbent gauze, rather than cotton or paper towels, which could leave irritating fibers behind.

If you see that your dog has recurrent or chronic ear infections, you should identify any underlying causes. Your vet can help you figure these out. If you learn how to manage these, you can prevent future infections.

Keeping your dog’s ears comfortable and clean is a good way to minimize the chance of an ear infection. If your dog starts to show signs of an ear infection, you should seek treatment immediately. You don’t want the problem to become serious and the infection to spread further inward.

How to Treat a Dog Ear Infection Without the Vet!

If you can’t get to your vet for whatever reason, it’s good to know how to treat a dog infection without the vet. There are a few different methods that you can try. Any of these should be done two to three times a day for five to seven days

Apple cider vinegar

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Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which can remove some debris and dirt from ears. Even better, it can kill bacteria and yeast. However, you shouldn’t use this remedy if your dog has ears that are red and sore, since it’ll be really painful for him.

If you use this remedy, mix the apple cider vinegar with an equal amount of distilled water. You can soak some gauze in the solution and gently clean your dog’s ear flap with it. Alternatively, you can put the solution in a syringe and squirt a little bit in your dog’s ear.

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Make sure that you don’t use Q-tips in your dog’s ears. They can push the debris further into his ear canal, and they can even rupture his eardrum.

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Herb Pharm Mullein Garlic Herbal Oil - 1 Ounce
  • A proprietary blend of Mullein, Calendula and St. John's Wort flower extracts, and Garlic bulb extract
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Mullein is a plant with antibacterial properties, making it a good option for bacterial ear infections. If you have mullein leaves and/or flowers, put them into a glass jar and cover them with olive oil. You can add in one or two cloves of freshly chopped antibacterial garlic for every pint of olive oil.

Let it sit for two or three weeks. Then, strain it, and apply several drops of warmed oil into your dog’s ear canal with a dropper. You can also soak some gauze with it and apply this to his ear.

Alternatively, you can buy an already made infused mullein oil.

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Oregano oil

Majestic Pure Oregano Essential Oil, Pure and Natural with Therapeutic Grade, Premium Quality Oregano Oil, 4 fl oz
  • Majestic Pure pure and natural therapeutic grade oregano oil from Albania; non-toxic; no additives; unfiltered and undiluted with no fillers
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  • Safety Warning: For external use only. Other than aromatherapy, dilute with a carrier oil. For topical use, rub a very small diluted amount on the inside of your elbow area to test for any allergic reaction before use. Discontinue use if any allergic reaction occurs. Avoid contact with eyes, keep out of the reach of children. If pregnant, consult with your health care provider before use

Oil of oregano is a good natural antibiotic, but you shouldn’t use it undiluted, or it’ll irritate your dog’s ears. Add one drop of this oil to 1/2 ounce of pure aloe vera juice and mix well. As with the previous methods, you can either use a dropper or a piece of gauze.

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Calendula Oil 3.4oz 100ml - Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract – Infused - Almond Oil Base - 100% Pure & Natural - Marigold Oil – Benefits for Skin, Nails, Hair, Face, Body - by Aromatika
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Calendula has great healing abilities. It’s one of the best herbs when it comes to treating external ear problems. You can use it externally or internally, and it may provide your dog with pain relief.

You can buy an already infused calendula oil or make your own. To do this, pack calendula flowers in a glass jar, and cover them with olive oil, adding in one or two cloves of freshly chopped garlic. Make sure the leaves are completely covered and let it sit for three to four days.

Then, strain the mixture and apply the warmed oil to your dog’s ear canal. You can do this with a dropper or a piece of gauze. You can keep the oil for up to six months.

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Coconut oil

Nutiva Organic Cold-Pressed Virgin Coconut Oil, 15 Fl Oz USDA Organic, Non-GMO, Fair Trade, Whole 30 Approved, Vegan, Keto, Fresh Flavor and Aroma for Cooking & Healthy Skin and Hair
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Coconut oil has both antibacterial and antifungal properties. What you can do is put two tablespoons of this oil in a saucepan on low heat with two fresh garlic cloves. Simmer until the oil turns to liquid, and then allow it to cool a little bit.

Then, you can put two to three drops of this oil in your dog’s ear with a dropper. Alternatively, you can use a piece of gauze.

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When to See a Vet

vet checking up a puppy

Image from Pixabay

Although it’s good to know how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet, it can’t be stressed enough that you should only do this when it’s absolutely necessary. If your dog is showing any of the typical signs of ear infections, you really should visit your vet as soon as you can.

It’s important to treat these conditions fully, as they cause your dog a lot of pain. Perhaps even more importantly, you want to prevent the spread of the infection to the middle and inner ear. Only a vet will be able to figure out the cause of the infection and exactly the best way to treat it.

How will your vet treat your dog’s ear infection?

Typically, your vet’s going to thoroughly clean your dog’s ears with a medicated cleaner. He or she may also prescribe a cleaner for you to use at home, as well as a topical medication. If the case is severe, you might also have to give your dog anti-inflammatory medications and oral antibiotics.

Most of the time, ear infections will resolve with treatment within a week or two. However, if the infection is more severe or due to a chronic problem, it can take months.

In situations where other treatments haven’t worked, your vet may actually recommend surgery. One example is Total Ear Canal Ablation or TECA. This entails the removal of the ear canal, which will remove the diseased tissue and prevent any further infection.

It’s important that you follow your vet’s instructions to the letter. You also need to go back to the vet for any requested appointment to follow up. If you let the matter go, the infection could recur.

You also need to finish the full course of treatment and medication. This is true even if your dog appears to be getting better before you’re done with it. If you don’t finish the full course of treatment, it can make things worse; one example is resistant infections in the future.

While it helps to know how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet, it’s perhaps just as important to remember that you definitely need to take your dog to the vet if you can.

Don’t Play It by Ear…

Seeing your dear friend suffer can be one of the worst experiences in the world. This is why it’s a good idea to learn how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet. It’s always better to go to the vet, but if it’s not an option, you want to try to do what you can for your dog.

Of course, you should keep in mind that treating your dog’s ear infection on your own should only be a last resort option. If none of the home remedies that you try work, you should definitely get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.


It’s definitely worth learning all of the methods when it comes to how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet. You just need to keep in mind that these methods come with limitations. You should always get your dog to the vet as soon as you can.

What do you think of everything you’ve learned about how to treat a dog ear infection without the vet? Let us know by leaving a comment!

Featured Image from Pixabay

Last update on 2021-09-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


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