Holistic approach to earproblems.
Source Julie Henriques / Dogs naturally
Does your dog have itchy, gunky, smelly or even painful ears that just don’t seem to get better?
If you answered yes, you’re not alone. And like other dog owners, you’re probably frustrated by how hard it can be to get rid of chronic ear issues once and for all.
Ear problems are one of the biggest reasons dogs visit the vet, and they can be really hard to resolve.
An ear infection is rarely “just an ear infection.”
Like other skin conditions, ear problems are often a symptom of underlying disease. This means you’ll need to look a lot deeper than the ears to help your dog overcome her problems.
Homeopathic veterinarian Michael Dym DVM has given the following advice on ear health for dogs.
Holistic view of ear issues
The first step in holistic treatment for your dog’s ear issues is to identify the possible sources of the problem.
Many dogs today have been inundated with too many vaccinations, drugs, pesticides and other chemicals, and the body tries to get rid of them through the bowels, the urinary tract and through the skin and the ears.
Discharge and inflammation in the ears are often a sign that the body’s trying to eliminate toxins. From a holistic perspective, this is a good thing! Your dog’s body is working to heal itself by getting rid of toxic substances. The goal of holistic treatment is to avoid interfering with this natural detoxification process.
Why conventional treatments often don’t work
If your dog’s been treated for ear infections by a conventional vet, she’s probably been given topical treatments and antibiotics.
These treatments may help the ears clear up at first, but the problem often comes back again later. That’s because the drugs just suppress the symptoms (your dog’s gunky, itchy ears) without addressing the underlying condition that’s causing the symptoms.
And when antibiotics stop helping, your vet may even prescribe steroids … drugs that suppress symptoms and can have many harmful side effects.
The holistic view is that these suppressive treatments drive the symptoms deeper, which can ultimately make your dog sicker over time.
Causes of ear issues
Diet: Diet is a huge factor, especially when dogs are on kibble diets, which are very high in refined carbohydrates and contribute to yeast and food allergies or intolerances that can cause inflammation in the ears.
Anatomical: Dogs with long ear flaps (like Cocker Spaniels) often have a tendency for waxy build-up and discharge. The ear canal is a dark moist environment that can encourage the growth of yeast and bacteria.
Lifestyle: Dogs who love to swim may get water in their ears that can lead to ear issues. Others who are out in the woods a lot can get foreign bodies like foxtails or seeds in their ears, causing irritation.
Dr Dym recommends feeding your dog whole foods, raw meat diet, minimizing vaccines and other pharmaceutical drugs, and avoiding pesticides and other chemicals in your dog’s environment.
Dogs who are raised like this are less likely to develop reactions that lead to itching, discharge and inflammation in their ears.
But if your dog does get itchy, gunky ears, what can you do to soothe the discomfort?
First of all, don’t clean your dog’s ears unless wax and discharge are causing her discomfort. Healthy ears don’t need cleaning so just leave them alone!
If your dog’s showing signs of discomfort like head shaking, pawing or rubbing her ears, here are some of Dr Dym’s favourite natural solutions to soothe the irritation.
Green tea: Boil 1 cup of water and add two green tea bags. Let the tea steep for a few minutes and cool to lukewarm temperature. Sponge or syringe some of the solution into the ear canal.
Calendula Tincture: Buy herbal calendula in tincture form. Add 5 to 10 drops of calendula tincture to ½ to 1 cup of lukewarm filtered water and sponge or place with a dropper into the ears.
Yogurt: Plain yogurt can be placed in the ear canal with a syringe to help repopulate the ear with “good” bacteria.
Zymox Enzymatic: Zymox Enzymatic can be helpful in breaking down the discharge and wax and soothing irritation. (Note: make sure you buy the Zymox Enzymatic solution and not the one with hydrocortisone).
Grapefruit extract: Grapefruit seed extract (GSE) is a powerful natural antioxidant that’s antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It can be used topically as well as internally.
To use topically, mix 10 drops of GSE with 15ml of pure Aloe Vera juice and use it to clean the ears when needed. Internally, add 3 to 5 drops of GSE to your dog’s food.
Oil of Oregano: Oil of oregano is naturally antibacterial. Add one drop to 15ml of warm pure Aloe Vera juice. You can use this mixture topically in the ear as well as adding a few drops to your dog’s food.
These are all gentle solutions that can help keep your dog comfortable. Dr Dym reminded us that none of these things alone will make your dog’s ear problems go away, but they will help soothe the irritation while your holistic vet addresses what’s causing your dog’s ear issues at a deeper level.
If your dog has chronic, recurring ear issues, it’s best to get help from an animal homeopath.
Dr Dym emphasizes the need for patience with the healing process when you’re dealing with chronic ear issues. As your dog discharges toxins to the outside through her ears, remember that this is an important part of healing. It’s how your dog’s life force “lets off steam” and you don’t want to suppress that process by using anything that will magically make the symptoms disappear.
Any drug or herb that can remove symptoms quickly is likely to suppress them and drive them deeper into the body where they can cause more serious issues later.
So, be patient, and keep your dog comfortable with the soothing solutions while your animal homeopath addresses your dog’s overall constitutional health.
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The information contained in this website is not intended to replace guidance from your veterinarian. Bowen Therapy and Homeopathy are complementary to veterinary treatment and the general care of the animal.