Ear problems are one of the main reasons dogs are taken to the veterinarians office. Ear problems can be caused by bacteria, yeast, ear mites, or an accumulation of wax. Some dogs have hair that grows deep into the ear canal which can also cause irritation. Ear infections often need to be treated with antibiotics or steroids, which must be prescribed by a veterinarian; however, once the initial cause is diagnosed and treated, there are a variety of over the counter medications available to help prevent recurring problems.
Dogs that have a superficial infection on the outer area of the ears can often be successfully treated with an over the counter medication called Zymox Otic with Hydrocortisone. Zymox Otic contains special enzymes and can be used on the external surface of the ear to treat bacterial or yeast infections. The hydrocortisone helps to relieve itching, inflammation and swelling. This product should not be used in conjunction with other ear treatments or washes.
Many common ear problems can be prevented by performing regular ear cleaning. There are a variety of ear cleaning solutions available over the counter. Some popular pre-made solutions include Bio-Groom which contains Boric and Salicyclic Acid to break down waxy build-up; Conquer Hy-Otic which contains sodium hyaluronate as well as an antibacterial and antifungal to reduces inflammation and promote healing; Pet Botanics Natural Herbal Ear Wash which contains essential oils that soften ear wax, soothe irritation and help prevent odor. Be sure to follow directions carfully, some ear wash solutions are safe for daily use and some suggest only occasional use.
Ear mites are microscopic bugs that are often found in dog's ears. They produce a black discharge which can be either flakey or gooey. Treatment of ear mites includes killing the mites and cleaning the exudate from the ears. Popular over the counter eat mite solutions include Bio-Groom Ear Mite treatment which contains aloe vera to help soothe the ears while eliminating the mites; Eradimite, which contains a pyrethrin to kill the mites as well as aloe vera; Mitaclear, which contains a Pyrethrin and piperonyl butoxide, two strong parasiticides. Mitaclear also acts as a repellent to mites and ticks.
There are a variety of products on the market specially designed for use in the ears. Bio-Groom Ear Fresh Powder is designed to help keep the ears dry and fresh smelling as well as to help grip the hair to easily remove it from the ear canal. Ear Relief Wash Swabs are swabs pre-moistened with a cleaning solution. Be careful not to place these into the ear canal as you could damage the ear drum. TropiClean Oxy Med Pet Ear Wipes are pre-moistened hypo-allergenic wipes that can be used weekly to remove ear wax build up and prevent odor.