As a pet owner, if you have not had to deal with a dog ear infection, consider yourself lucky. Ear infections in dogs are a painful ordeal and can greatly reduce your dog’s quality of life. To make matters worse, ear infections are usually recurring. This is because they tend to be a sign of other underlying health issues like high inflammation levels. 

If you are on the other side and are dealing with a dog ear infection, not all hope is lost. There are still many solutions for your dog both short-term and long-term. If you implement these solutions, your dog will be up and about in no time. 

Dog owners whose dogs have just recovered from an ear infection also need to be aware of these solutions because the chances of the infection coming back are fairly high.

Traditionally, when you think of infection, medication is the first solution that comes to mind. However, there are several other ways to aid your dog’s recovery, one of which is probiotics. 

What are Ear Infections in Dogs?

An infection is defined as the invasion of an organism by disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of the affected organism to the invasion. 

In the case of ear infections in dogs, the disease-causing agents could be bacteria, yeast overgrowth, or any other disease-causing microorganisms. 

The attacked organism is obviously the dog. The response to the attack varies among dogs and includes mechanisms like such as pus production and inflammation. 

Therefore, an ear infection in a dog is the invasion of a dog’s ear by a disease-causing agent, its multiplication, and the reaction of the dog to it. 

Causes of Dog Ear Infections

Causes of Dog Ear Infections
  • Bacterial infections. These are one of the leading causes of ear infections in dogs. When bacteria make their way into the ear of a dog and find suitable conditions to survive and multiply, a bacterial ear infection is born. 

  • Yeast infections or fungal infections. Similar to bacteria, if yeast and/or fungi multiply in the ear, it results in an ear infection. 

  • Foreign objects. If something that doesn't belong in the ear gets lodged in the ear canal, it may cause an ear infection. Small substances like pollen and pillow fluff can easily enter your dog’s ear and if not discovered early enough can cause itching and eventually an infection. 

  • Allergies. If your dog suffers from allergies, they may trigger an ear infection by causing fluid build-up in the auditory canal.

  • Tumors. Tumors, whether cancerous or not can increase the risk of ear infections especially if they are found within or close to the ear.

  • Parasites. Fleas and mites can cause severe ear infections especially if treatment is delayed. 

  • Wounds and bruises. Wounds are breeding grounds for bacteria. If a dog gets a wound in or close to the ear and it is not treated immediately, they are very likely to develop an ear infection. 

  • Breed of the dog. Certain dog breeds are more prone to ear infections than others.

Breeds That Are More Susceptible to Ear Infections

Sadly, your dog’s ear infections could be caused by the simple fact that they are of a certain breed. The breeds most susceptible to ear infections are those with flop-over ears. 

This is because floppy ears provide a conducive environment with warmth and moisture for the growth and multiplication of bacteria. Such dog breeds include:

  • Bulldogs

  • Shar-pei

  • Chow-chows

  • Bloodhounds

  • Basset hounds

  • Cocker and springer spaniels 

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections 

  • Itching ears. You will notice your dog try to scratch her ears several times throughout the day. 

  • Head shaking. The dog will constantly shake her head as if she is trying to shake something off. This shaking is usually followed by aggressive scratching of the ears.

  • Discharge from the ear. As the infection worsens, the ear will start to release a yellowish discharge. The discharge is usually pus produced by the body as a response to the infection. 

  • Bad odor from the ear. There may be a bad smell coming from your dog's ear due to the discharges released from the ear. 

  • Fever. Fever is the classic sign of an infection as the body’s immune system tries to fight off the bacteria

  • Redness or visible inflammation in the ear

  • Head tilt. Your dog may start to tilt her head towards the side on which the infected ear is. 

  • Hearing loss. If untreated, the ear infection may cause the dog to lose her sense of hearing. You may notice that your dog does not promptly respond to commands. 

  • Loss of balance. Ears play a major role in maintaining the balance of the body. In the case of a severe infection, your dog may lose balance. 

  • Constant whining. Just like in any other health condition, your dog will start to feel unbearable amounts of pain especially if she is not being treated. 

Treatment Options for Dog Ear Infections

Treatment Options for Dog Ear Infections

Antibiotic treatment 

In the case of an infection, antibiotics are the first choice for treatment. This is because they work quickly to stop or slow the progression of the infection. 

Antibiotics can be paired with other forms of treatment for example probiotic therapy, steroids, and home remedies.

Antibiotics are great for ear infections and infections in general but they do not come without side effects. Antibiotics cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria. 

They, therefore, are going to kill off your dog’s good bacteria along with the bad. This is especially an issue in dogs that get recurring ear infections. 

For this reason, alongside antibiotic treatment, it is best to investigate and find out the root cause of your dog’s infection and treat it as well to prevent more infections in the future. It is also advisable to pair antibiotic treatment with probiotic therapy to restore the good bacteria.  

Home Remedies for Dog Ear Infections

While your vet knows best what to do for canine ear infections, you can also play an active role in your dog’s treatment process. There is so much you can do for your dog to help her along her treatment process. 

Of course, remember to always consult your vet before applying any of the remedies. Every dog’s experience is unique so what may work for one dog may worsen the situation for another. Some of the home remedies you can try for your dog’s ear infection include:

  • Giving your dog a healthy diet. Believe it or not, the food you give your dog plays a large role in their risk of acquiring an infection. A good quality diet is essential in boosting the strength of the immune system which is key in fighting infections. 

  • Probiotics. This qualifies as a home remedy because you can start your dog on probiotics without a vet but it is still advisable to at least let your vet know. Probiotics are key to a strong immune system and may improve your dog’s chances against infections.

  • Supplementation of immune-boosting nutrients for example omega-3. This is similar to giving your dog a healthy diet. In this case, however, you also rely on supplements to provide additional nutrients to your dog. Remember, supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet. 

  • Lifestyle changes. Just like in humans, dogs also need to maintain good habits to maintain a strong and healthy body. Ensure your dog gets some physical exercise every day, stays hydrated and gets adequate sleep. 

  • Cleaning your dog’s ears. Dirt is one of the leading causes of infection. Clean your dog’s ears regularly helps to prevent dirt from building up. Extra precaution should be taken with dogs with flop-over ears. 

Always keep in mind that home remedies are not a replacement for medical treatment. They are meant to work in addition to the medical treatment, not in place of it. 

Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs with Chronic Ear Infections

Benefits of Probiotics for Dogs with Chronic Ear Infections
  • Probiotics provide direct competition for disease-causing bacteria. If your dog has adequate probiotics, they compete with the infectious bacteria for resources like food slowing down their multiplication.

  • Probiotics are believed to play a role in the immune response of dogs enabling them to fight infections. 

  • Probiotics release anti-inflammatory substances like short-chain fatty acids. Reducing inflammation can help reduce pain and speed up the healing process of the infection.

Probiotics provide so many other health benefits that may not be directly related to your dog’s ear infection but can still be beneficial to her overall health. Some of these benefits include:

  • Probiotics improve the health of the digestive system 

  • Probiotics produce nutrients in the gut for example short-chain fatty acids and vitamin K

  • Probiotics may possess anti-cancer properties

How to Choose and Use Probiotics for Canine Ear Infections 

The first step to increase your odds of success with probiotics is choosing a good quality probiotic. Choose a probiotic from a trusted company that makes high-quality probiotics for dogs. 

Secondly, figure out how you are going to administer the probiotic to your dog. An easy way to give your dog probiotics is to add them to her food. 

If you remember what we talked about earlier, you know that antibiotics kill good bacteria as well. So what do you do if your dog is still on antibiotics? If your dog is still on antibiotic therapy, give them their probiotics at least 2 hours before or after they have taken their antibiotic. 

Another important aspect to consider when choosing a probiotic for your dog is the type of strains present. Different brands contain different strains and getting the right kind may be the difference between your dog getting well or staying the same. 

If you give your dog a variety of strains of bacteria, it should be enough to help her get better. However, you can ask your vet to advise you on which specific ones will work best. Some of the common strains you should look out for in a probiotic include:

  • Bifidobacterium bifidum

  • Bifidobacterium breve

  • Bifidobacterium lactis

  • Enterococcus faecium

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus

  • Lactobacillus casei

When to See the Vet

When it comes to ear infections, you should see the vet as soon as possible. Getting early treatment will reduce the treatment time required for your dog. More importantly, it will spare your dog lots of pain from not receiving treatment. 

If you take too long to see the vet, your dog’s infection will worsen and may develop more health complications.  

Complications of Ear Infections 

Complications of Ear Infections 

If an infection Remains untreated, it may progress into more dangerous and life-threatening conditions. Some of the conditions that result from a lack of treatment include:

  • Hearing loss

  • Sepsis

  • Blockage of the ear canals

  • Death 

Our Final Thoughts

In conclusion, ear infections while painful and very difficult to heal can be treated and done away with. Even better, they can be prevented if a dog is allowed to live a healthy lifestyle. 

Lifestyle choices like a good diet and adequate exercise can greatly improve your dog’s chances against possible infections. 

Probiotics are an effective way to reduce your dog’s risk for ear infections. If your dog is already infected, probiotics can also provide relief to her during and after the treatment process. 

The key to success in probiotic therapy is to choose a high-quality supplement and starting treatment as soon as possible. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can probiotics help dog ear infections?

Yes, probiotics can help with ear infections. 

What is the best thing for a dog's ear infection?

The first thing to do for your dog’s ear infection is to see a vet. After seeing a vet, you can apply some home remedies in addition to the vet’s recommendations like a good diet and supplements. 

What probiotics are best for ear infections in dogs?

Both homemade and probiotic supplements can be helpful for ear infections in dogs. If possible give both to your dog to boost the numbers of her good bacteria.