Most of the ear infections that plague pets like cats and dogs can be prevented and even treated at home. Instead of going to the vet each time your pet experiences an ear infection, minor or major, save your money and perform the treatment for ear infection in minor cases yourself. Here’s what you need to know.
Inherent weakness: L-shaped ear canals
Dogs and cats have a superior sense of hearing to humans because of their L-shaped ear canals. Unfortunately, this also leaves them susceptible to accumulating dirt and all sorts of debris in their ear canals, causing ear infections. Your own home treatment for ear infection should take this into account.
Most animal ear infections, minor or major, are treated with the help of antibiotics or antifungals. But even these can upset the chemical balance inside the L-shaped ear canals of dogs or cats. Such drugs should be prescribed with caution, and only for major cases. Prevention and an ear cleaning routine is the best way to avoid minor ear infection problems, which are more common.
Confirming a minor ear infection
So how do you know if your cat or dog has a minor problem that can be relieved by a simple home treatment for ear infection?
You’ll know it’s a major ear infection that requires professional veterinary help, if your pet can no longer walk straight and his ears are seriously swollen. But if your pet simply keeps scratching its ears and head, there is a colored discharge coming out of his ears, and it smells bad, that’s a classic sign of a minor ear infection. The discharge can be yellow, black, or brown. The ears can also look badly irritated or tender. The cause behind such symptoms can be treated at home.
The treatment for ear infection
This means you’ll have to clean your pet’s ears. To clean them, gently pull back his ears and clean them with cotton pads or balls dipped in the right cleaning solution. Which solution to use will depend on what particular ear infection your pet has. You may have to pour a faint trickle of this solution into your pet’s ear canal, too, then massage his ears and slowly wipe off everything that comes out. (Never jam cotton into your pet’s ears.)
For yeast infections (which create a brownish-pink discharge), use a solution of mild white vinegar and water. For other types of infection, use mineral oil and a tincture made from the inner bark of the South American herb tree pau-d’arco. This acts like a natural antibiotic. For an ear mite infestation, use almond or olive oil.
Each of these cleaning solutions or aids should be applied to your pet’s ears a few times per week. Reduce the frequency of cleaning as the symptoms of infection go down, until cleaning can be reduced to once every 3-4 weeks.