Pet Corner: Herbal Help For Ear Infections

| May/June 2000

  • Ear infections are one of the most common problems in pets.
    Photo courtesy of K. Rosen
  • Ear infections are one of the most common problems in pets.

Otitis externa, external ear infection, is one of the most common problems veterinarians see in their practices today.

Otitis is caused by a wide variety of microorganisms—bacteria, fungi, and yeasts. It is often the result of other primary causes such as hypersensitivity diseases, foreign bodies, hypothyroidism, autoimmune diseases, parasites, and the use of inappropriate treatments and/or irritating cleansers in the ear.

The recommendations listed below are for otitis externa only. Otitis media and otitis interna—infections of the middle and inner ear—are problems for your veterinarian only. Be sure to get an accurate diagnosis before you begin home treatment.

Herbal remedies work nearly as fast as veterinary drugs. 

Symptoms and Traditional Treatment

Symptoms of external ear infections include head shaking, crying, and scratching the affected ears. The ears may feel hot and show evidence of scratching and irritation. Gently swabbing the ear canal with a large chunk of cotton may reveal a gooey brown to black discharge.

In Western medicine, after flushing and cleaning the ear canal (often under general anesthesia), various antibiotic or combined antibiotic/steroid preparations are used. Surgery to open up the ear canal for better circulation may ultimately be indicated for cases of otitis externa that do not respond to normal treatments.

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