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Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections in dogs are among the top three reasons that owners take their dogs to the vets. How can we reduce or prevent ear infections? and as owners, what can you do to treat and avoid them? In this article we take a look at the different reasons that they occur, how you can treat them naturally and reduce the risk of them re-occurring.

Author: ProDog Raw

Ear Infections in Dogs

How to tell if Your dog has an ear infection

If this is your first experience of a dog with an ear condition then you may be wondering what you should be looking out for. In fact, there are a number of tell-tale signs and symptoms that all is not well with your dog’s ears.

Often manifested as your canine companion constantly shaking their head or scratching their ears, it is unpleasant, uncomfortable and if untreated, or ignored, will just get worse.

Regular shaking of their head

Some of you may be familiar with the action of your dog constantly shaking their heads, the way they do when they are trying to dry themselves off. If it is a one-off then there is no cause for concern. It is when they seem to be constantly, and rigorously, shaking their head as if trying to get rid of something, that all is not well.

Scratching their ears

Dogs do scratch their ears – that’s a natural thing – a bit like us scratching our back. It is when they are consistently scratching their ears over a sustained period of time that you need to take note that there may be an issue. This could indicate an ear infection or the beginning of one.

Discomfort and pain

If your dog has an ear infection they may whine or even yelp when you touch their ear. In severe cases, ear infections can lead to hearing loss, an issue with balance or walking in circles.

Redness and swelling inside the ear

Take a look inside the dog’s ear. Conditions such as ear mites are recognisable as they leave a red-brown or black like crust inside the outer-ear. You will also see redness and inflammation inside the ear if they have been regularly scratching.

A bad smell

A yeast infection is the most common reason that your dogs’ ears smell but be warned, if you are about to start smelling your dog’s ears – it can be quite unpleasant. Just like any yeast infection, not only are they painful and uncomfortable they also emit a cheese like smell.

What causes ear infections in dogs?

There are a number of causes of ear infections in dogs however, often these can be caused and exacerbated by a poor diet, which can compromise a dog’s immune system. You see, like humans, the immune system in dogs is a complex thing.

Basically, if a dog is fed a low-quality diet, full of processed ingredients that are essentially alien to a dog’s gut, these ‘nasties’ can penetrate the mucous lining of the gut wall and ‘leak out’ into the bloodstream as toxins.

These toxins cause inflammation in the body and can present in conditions such as ear infections. To protect the gut lining and prevent this condition known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’, feeding your dog a species appropriate natural raw dog food diet is the greatest protection you can offer.

Food sensitivity

Wheat gluten is not supposed to be consumed by dogs and can cause a food sensitivity which manifests itself as itchy skin, paws or ears as discussed above. Changing their diet and cutting out wheat gluten can help a number of health conditions in your dog. Switching to raw should be the first step.

Ear mites

Ear mites are quite common in many dogs, especially those with big flappy ears that offer a warm and cosy place for them to habit. While they can be picked up almost anywhere, dogs with a lower immunity can be more susceptible.


Once a dog has scratched their ears, bacteria can get in. Also, dogs who love to swim can pick up infections in their ears – big flappy ears are especially prevalent at keeping all that moisture in.


Possibly the worst kind for all concerned because as well as discomfort and pain, they can also smell really bad. They can be caused by moisture in the air, wet paws, a bit of wet weather and swimming. Moisture becomes breeding ground for yeast. Again, feeding a natural, species appropriate BARF (Bones And Raw Feeding) diet has a positive role to play. Yeast feed on carbs so if your dog is on a high carbohydrate diet like kibble, you are giving the yeast more chance to develop and grow.

How to treat an ear infection naturally

Before you rush off to the vets, who will in many cases prescribe antibiotics and present you with a bill, let’s take a look at more natural remedies and ways to treat ear infections in dogs.

  • A biologically appropriate raw diet (BARF)
  • Raw garlic crushed up with their raw food
  • Almond, sesame oil or garlic oil or apple cider vinegar to clean the ears

Clean the ears, wipe them first then soak a cotton wool ball in a solution, wipe the ear with that then clean again. Healthy ears shouldn’t need regular cleaning so be careful not to over clean or you could cause issues yourself. Just pay attention to them after swimming and check them regularly.

A raw diet can help

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How to avoid future ear issues

We have already mentioned how many conditions start in the gut and how, a condition known as leaky gut can be responsible for many of the food allergies, sensitivities and other conditions that your dog may suffer with.

In order to protect your dog, feeding them the right diet is critical. To protect the digestive system and gut, you need to increase the ‘gut flora’.

Now gut flora is the good bacteria that live in the digestive tract of both humans and animals. The wrong diet can upset the balance of this bacteria, leading to leaky gut and bad gut health. By feeding the right diet you will increase the gut flora, therefore improving the immune system.

Why raw food can help

If your dog is kibble fed, it is time to consider making the switch to raw. Dog’s anatomies are designed to eat and digest raw food. Not the processed and highly manufactured pet foods sold by the big companies and sold to us as the ideal solution for your dog. A raw diet will improve the gut flora in the digestive tract, improving your dog’s immunity, reducing their sensitivities and ear ailments and benefiting their overall health.

Introduce a probiotic to your dog’s diet

In addition to switching to a raw diet, a probiotic will improve the gut flora in your dog. Probiotics from Animotics is an excellent example which provides multiple strains of bacteria. With 22 billion colony forming units for dogs, this high strength formula is the UK’s first true canine probiotic.

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A note on general ear care

As well as changing their diet and introducing a probiotic, general care of the ears is paramount. If your dog likes to swim, dry their ears after swimming. Use cotton wool to give the insides a quick clean. Keep the ears groomed to prevent matting and clean them regularly with the methods mentioned above.



Am I mistaken, I thought Garlic was considered to be toxic for dogs?


Hi there

Garlic is safe for dogs. In fact used in safe medicinal doses it is a wonderful herb vegetable that provides benefits to dogs.

It is a well-known anti-biotic and prebiotic, meaning it will help to balance your dog’s microbiome by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria and assist in defending against bad bacteria in the system.

It is often recommended as a natural alternative to antibiotics, and used as a blood purifier to repel biting insects such as fleas.

We would recommend you speak to a veterinary herbalist about dosages for specific antibiotic requirements, however the safe amount is around ¼ of a clove for a toy or small dogs (4-7kg), ½ a clove for a medium dog (5-18kg) and 1 clove (not bulb!) for a larger dog (20kg up).

Our Nutrition Specialist Caroline keeps garlic as her go to herb if her dog has eaten something stinky out on a walk, or shows signs of an infection. Simply chopping it and adding it to her dogs’ meals.

Most dogs will enjoy it. To ensure it is of the most use as an antibiotic it is better fed when needed, rather than given every day, in order to avoid a build up in your dog’s system of the un-safe compounds beyond the helpful amounts.

For more information about what your dog can and can’t eat, please refer to our blog.

Kind Regards
Team ProDog

I will be adding this when she eats horse poop, when she does she can either vomit in the car or it comes out the other end and it is not pick up able!

Can you add Turmeric powder to their food. ?
If they have runny poos is there anything to help bring it all together? Peas is my go to veg when like this.

My FB2 Mini Golden Doodle has always suffered with a sensitive tummy and the raw diet is the only food that keeps her right, but she does go off the diet food and I will have to change it up and add some pre-packed food which is for emergencies, the good stuff not the tinned own brand or others you get in a food shop.


Hi there

So here is some useful information on turmeric

When it comes to the runny poos, try Psyllium Husk. Derived from the seeds of Plantago ovata, it’s a herb mainly grown in India and is usually found in the form of husk, granules, capsules or powder. Psyllium Husks are a soluble dietary fibre, making it a megastar addition for aiding the normal functioning of a dog’s digestion and bowels. These husks are a bulking agent, because they can absorb ten times their own weight in water will add mass to your dog’s stools, and in turn improve both constipation or diarrhoea symptoms.

Also, when you mention adding the pre-packed food, we would recommend just sticking to a raw diet so as not to upset the digestive system further. Perhaps you could try different options that you know she is OK with? Also, as you already said – the pro-biotic should help settle things.

Kind Regards
Team ProDog

Robert Weeks

Hi, can you please advise if apple cider vinegar requires diluting before cleaning my dog’s ears as I suspect she may have ear mites as opposed to yeast infection as her ears don’t smell. Thank you in advance.


Hi Robert

We would advise speaking to your vet for them to check if it’s ear mites or a yeast/ bacterial issue.
For general cleaning of ears with apple cider vinegar, then dilute with warm water. This blog maybe of interest also :


It has surprised me.

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