Ear Infection

safe ear cleaning

MyGermanShepherd Health ManualEar Infection (Canker, Otitis Externa) is a progressive disease describing the condition of infected tissue in the ear canal (or more rarely the middle ear or inner ear), triggered by yeast or other fungi, bacteria, ear mites or other parasites, or rarely by a virus or an environmental irritant.

Further triggers are floppy ears that do not get enough air to absorb moisture (for GSDs only the case with young puppies), swimming in standing waters (which often are infested), roaming through the woods or high bushes, fights with other dogs, draft and dust from tobacco or otherwise.

The most common cause of Ear Infections are poor diet and (earlier) administration of immunosuppressants or of antibiotics, whether purposefully as medicaments or unnoticed in meat and dairy, both of which have impaired the immune system.

Why are antibiotics a cause as well? Because antibiotics have the same effect on every organism: they lead to an overgrowth of yeast and pathogenic bacteria. While none of the mentioned triggers affects every organism: even dogs and people that are subject to the same trigger don't all get an Ear Infection.

Who Suffers Ear Infections

Dogs that aren't fed industrial dog "food" normally never have an Ear Infection in their life. And indeed, we never had a dog with an Ear Infection. Now compare that to the fact that Ear Infections are among the most common reasons for vet visits, and to the fact that industrial dog "food" is what's most commonly fed to dogs these days.

Coincidence? Not all. And here's why:

The most common trigger of Ear Infections, yeast infection (candida albicans), rather rarely is acquired in the environment. The same may even be true for many bacterial Skin Infections.

What? You must now be wondering "where does the yeast in all the yeast infections come from, if not from the environment??"

Good, because exactly that is important to understand: Most yeast infections are acquired inside the body.

Just like many pathogenic bacteria, yeast too naturally coexists with all the beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. There is a constant battle among all of these microbes to become the biggest or only force in the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) - as well as in the mouth, rectum, vagina, and skin, though in healthy organisms here in rather minimal numbers.

And in today's food chain meat and dairy are loaded with antibiotics and steroids (do click the link to digest what you find on the plate there).

These antibiotics and steroids in meat, bones etc cannot be magically "removed" when the pet "food" industry manufactures the cute kibble pieces and rather bland tins from bone and meat waste etc.

Now, when you eat the industrially produced meat or dairy - or when your dog eats the waste of that industrially produced meat and dairy - then your dog (and you and your family!) receive constant doses of antibiotics and steroids with the "food", every day.

Even without any additional prescription of antibiotics and steroids, that's right.

What now happens in your and your dog's GI tract is:

  • antibiotics always kill the beneficial, often vital bacteria
  • while antibiotics are meant to kill only pathogenic bacteria
  • and antibiotics never kill yeast or any other fungi, nor viruses, protozoa, prions, or parasites.

Because antibiotics only and indiscriminately target bacteria, and they are most successful with the bacteria that have developed no weaponry as their sole function is to enable the body to survive and thrive.

So, what you have now is the situation that the yeast population is able to grow ever larger in the digestive system (as well as the heavily armed pathogenic bacteria) and they need more room, and so they start to perforate the stomach and gut lining to expand.

This not only results in the so-called leaky gut syndrome (there it is!) but also allows the yeast to piggyback with the bloodstream and via the cardiovascular system to spread into other tissues throughout the body!

Then you or your dog gets sick, and what typically happens is, you take your dog to an ordinary allopathic vet who blanket-prescribes even more antibiotics.

Think about that: You or your dog faces a yeast infection (caused by antibiotics in the "food") and you pay to get it treated with more antibiotics (in the prescribed medicaments). How is that gonna help your condition, or your dog's condition?!?

Not at all, of course! And this is why Ear Infections are typically chronic: Too many physicians fail to address the cause!

Whatever. You just saw that yeast infections in dogs as well as people are most often acquired inside the body when diet and/or medicaments allow yeast to proliferate into tissues way beyond its natural habitat in the gut. You also saw that the standard treatment protocol then causes only more trouble, and long-term.

Ear Infections (whether from yeast or not), even if only affecting the outer ear (otitis externa), can be very painful. Even in cases where they don't cause pain, they are always very irritating, leading to discomfort and possibly to behavior changes too.

If untreated, the infections of the outer ear can quickly grow to affect the middle ear or even inner ear too. Then in addition your dog will feel dizzy and uncontrollable.

As a dog's ears are so crucial to the wellbeing of the dog (for dogs, hearing is the essential sense, while we people rely on vision to navigate the world), we better ensure the best care for our dog's ears.

Warning Signs

  • tilting the head or shaking the head
  • pawing at the ear
  • leaning over or balancing problems
  • clear changes in dog behavior
  • excess ear wax
  • red inflammation
  • bad odor from the ears
  • frequent scratching
  • in severe cases even nausea
  • frequent vomiting
  • nervous system disorder, up to and including possible aggression.

Preventing Ear Infections

According to the above (Who Suffers Ear Infections), first and foremost: Feeding REAL foods, natural foods, unprocessed foods is the easiest way to prevent Ear Infections too. Even in our times where it has become hard to avoid meat and dairy loaded with antibiotics and steroids.

Avoiding medicaments that directly suppress the immune system (steroids and NSAIDs) and medicaments that indirectly suppress the immune system (antibiotics) also is key in the prevention of Ear Infections: Naturally the immune system plays the vital role in preventing all infections (diseases).

Finally, regular Ear Care too helps to prevent Ear Infections. You may want to briefly inspect your dog's ears daily or every other day, and also look out for the warning signs mentioned above.

Clean your dog's ears very gently and remove all dirt, but don't use anything with a sharp end or anything that may disintegrate in the ear!

You can use the top ear cleanser and cotton buds. But be aware that cotton buds sometimes lose the cotton on the bud, and if this happens while in the ear then you have a sharp end as well as a disintegrating tool: the cotton bit will be stuck in the ear.

In addition, consider when the dog jerks while you are having the cotton bud near the ear, that very "counter-force" may make the sharp end injure the ear! So, be extra careful during Ear Care (as well as Eye Care).

Also, your dog may not like getting the top ear cleanser squeezed into the ears, right? My Miguel certainly doesn't like that at all!

To avoid all these challenges, here's what I do:

Most times, first I spray the top wound and skin care on some kitchen paper towel to wipe off the biggest dirt layers from inside the pinna. Once the pinna is reasonably clean, I spray the top wound and skin care on cotton buds, both ends, one after another, and gently roll them through all the ear cup crevices.

Meaning, I never poke the cotton bud in the ear (never apply pressure towards a bud end) because this is what causes tiny ruptures on the pinna that could lead to Ear Infections.

The way I do it, it usually takes 6 cotton buds, times 2 ends, gives 12 roll-cleanings per ear. The entire ear-cleaning session does take me about 15 minutes, yes. But the dirt I get out in my opinion justifies the time spent. German Shepherd Dog ears get so quickly dirty!

Plus, Ear Care is great for relationship building too, it builds trust if you do it gently.

Why did I say this is how I clean the ears "most times"? Because, the top wound and skin care is great, applicable in all situations of skin care, and cheaper than the top ear cleanser, but it is not preventative ear care, it does not prevent future infections other than by keeping the ears clean.

Conversely, the top ear cleanser leaves an antimicrobial film on the pinna that seems to protect the ears for up to a few weeks. So, every once in a while I use the top ear cleanser instead of the top wound and skin care.

I spray it on cotton buds just like the other. While flushing the ears (squeezing it inside the ears) I usually now leave to a vet visit: better the dog holds a grudge against another person than myself, ha!

Remember to carefully roll the cotton buds inside the ear. And do not get deep into the ear at all: You must always be able to see the cotton-covered end clearly, or else you would affect the delicate middle ear.

The same applies when you clean your own ears: Be exceptionally careful to stay away from the eardrum, to gently roll the cotton bud, and not to lose bits of it inside the ear.

Treating Ear Infections

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To treat an existing Ear Infection that looks mild you can initially proceed as described under Preventing Ear Infections, but be sure to now use the top wound and skin care because this is a more broad-spectrum antiseptic with high efficacy against existing infections.

To treat an existing infection, thoroughly clean the dog's ears at least three times a day as described. As this spray is not an aerosol your dog shouldn't get too agitated, so after cleaning the ears as described you can spray the top wound and skin care directly in the ear to reach areas that you shouldn't even try to reach with cotton buds, because you must never touch the eardrum!

safe ear cleaning

To treat an existing Ear Infection that already looks severe to you, apply the top pet ear treatment without hydrocortisone. Do not buy the sister product with hydrocortisone: The one without is proven to work better, and the one with is harmful. Why I say harmful?

Because hydrocortisone is a corticosteroid, an artificial ueber-concentrated hormone which has dramatic "side effects" with impact on seemingly unrelated body functions. Those "side effects" in fact are the main effect and will cost you a lot of money down the line.

Remember, our aim should always be to get the correct diagnosis, and then to use the most appropriate treatment with the least side effects, especially no long-term side effects. The Zymox Otic Pet Ear Treatment without hydrocortisone is the most appropriate and effective remedy to treat Ear Infections.

Contrary to allopathic vets, I would not recommend using this on a weekly maintenance schedule, because its future efficacy depends on not allowing pathogens to develop resistance.

If within 24 hours your chosen initial DIY home treatment does not clearly relieve the symptoms that made you start treatment, then visit a quality vet.

Remember, a quality veterinarian will NOT prescribe a blanket antibiotic or even steroid or NSAID treatment! A quality veterinarian will not rely on guess-work, (s)he will identify the CAUSE of the Ear Infection - and highly likely the cause is what I have laid out above.

If your vet does not bother to identify the CAUSE, it's not worth paying anything at all: You would be paying a LOT going forward to rectify the harmful treatment (s)he started. Mark my words.

Also remember that antibiotics will most likely make the Ear Infection chronic. A temporary relief of symptoms is not a sign of cure, but a sign of palliation.

Therefore, once you have your vet's diagnosis of the CAUSE, not of the symptom, consider carefully what kind of treatment can actually help your dog, instead of your vet. With Ear Infections, the DIY home treatment laid out above is often all that's needed.




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  33 Site Comments, ZERO SPAM Add one


    I have a rescued GSD whose name is Apollo. We have had him for about 2 almost three years. You should have seen him when we first got him he looked like he was gonna flop dead the next day. Apollo is on the bigger side of German Shepards. He is believed to be full blooded but no proof. He weighs 95 pounds now. When we first got him he only weight 60 pounds, nails curled under is feet, fleas the sized of small flies, ended up being allergic to flea dirt so lost a great deal of hair on his back near his tail, same area had bacterial infection, double ear infection (bacterial and yeast), tape warms, and had a yeast infection in his groin area. I actually rescued him from a co workers father her dumped him in our works parking lot. Co worker swore up and down that her family took the best care they could for Apollo and even had another GSD. I told her she was crazy that dog didn't even look like they tried. (we had the same amount of money coming into our households) anyways to get to the point to this day we are fighting off ear infections.He is well and healthy with everything else. When we treated them at first it seemed to linger away but shortly after he was shaking his head again. Every time we think the infection is gone it flips on us and goes from bacterial to yeast and vise versa. We have been using what the vet has given us for ear cleanser and meds. I was just wondering if you could give me any advise on how to stop this. I'm one week away from having a baby and would like to get this solved or least get the wheels in motion. Just tonight I had to get up at 12 to clean our a bunch of black gunk out of his ears.=[ it saddens me that they ever got that way. Please help us =[


      So, you say you've been using what the vet (one vet) has given you. But you don't give an inch of a clue WHAT that was? What did you try from the vet that didn't work?
      And why don't you simply try what WE here suggest? So far, our tips have always worked! So basically, proceed as per the MYGERMANSHEPHERD Health Manual.


    HI we found our GSD about a year and three months ago. Her name is Sheva, she was a rescue dog and in a very bad shape. Our start off problem was a bad skin condition which with our vets help and the right food it was sorted out quickly. The existing problem is her one ear. Sheva would continuously scratch her ear until it is bleeding and than the ear would get infected. We clean her ears on a regular basis. Once the ear has started to heal and form scabs she starts all over again. It is just this one specific ear. I do not like putting a funnel around her neck to prevent her from getting to her ear but without it she does not stop scratching. What do we do?


      Hi Judy, Interesting case. Did a vet see the ear, what did he say, diagnosis?
      Without seeing it, I can't say much. Is anything visible? Outside or inside ear?
      Theoretical reasons till I know more:
      - allergy, normally food, unless you gives medicines? Often result from antibiotics use.
      - yeast infection
      - mites

      unlikely: tumor (normally don't itch)
      send photo?



    We have a 5 months black gsd who has a chronic head tilt. He has been seen by two vets who do not seem overly concerned. His siblings display the same symptoms (on and off) and we think that this could be a bacterial infection. He has responded to the antibiotics the vet has perscribed and his head will get straight, but only for a few weeks and then the tilt comes back. Any advice?


    I hv gsd female her outer ear hair was remove what should I do what was the reason about it


    hello,i have a GSD ..of smwhat 8 years....his ears has bloody discharge all the time...its like he is always crying...what to do please help...antibiotics are not working.2 days gap in antibiotics did this to him..please tell what should be done....his ear problems are since 1 year...all d tym puss and really bad smell...but this bloody discharge is since 3 days..and it has no much odour...and its really bad... please help..i dont know if this can effect his life..:'(..


      You have RUINED his health with all those antibiotics. Now no one can help the poor dog.
      I'd strongly suggest you IMMEDIATELY READ through all our health pages (for free) to avoid further health issues.


    Hii I have 4 month female gsd. Her both year was eract but for 3 to 4 days her left ear had not eracted properly.its looks like flopy ear I dont understand it can.b natural or something dangerous.still My dog is active . Mo other wrong sign onlt this problem is seen.
    Please I request advice me


      Sudhir, Do not worry! As shown AND explained in detail in My New Puppy Diary, GSD ears may not permanently stay UP before age 9 months. Unless you or someone else has damaged the ear cartilage when showing affection (??), both ears will ultimately be up nicely. Do not worry! ;-)

      All clear now?


      Tim , I read on internet that at the age of 5 month gsd ears stay up properly and their ear cartilage going hard. And as I told in My above msg that at the completion of third month my gsd both ear get stay up but from the last sunday her left ear get down and on 24th she is complete her 5 month.
      So that's why I worried . I already give her calcium syrup and in food drools focus puppy.
      If some tonic or medicine is available so please suggest or please give your precious advice to me.


        "I read on internet" all sorts of rubbish too, eg that antibiotics are the first call, yearly vaccine boosters mandatory, premium kibble the best dog food, etc etc.

        Do I give that any attention?


        You may believe those "sources" (copies!) or me, it's your choice Sudhir, but it would be great if you come back here in a few months to confirm that your dog's ears are up, like I said they will be. ;-)


    Thankyou Tim for ur precious advice hopefully her ear stay up soon.
    Please could you u avail me height chart for gsd.


      Sudhir, all charts are in the earlier linked New Puppy Diary only (yet), and sadly because of my difficult situation I do not foresee to be able to send you anything anytime soon, so sorry. Am at a shop now where I get 6 min internet.


    my german sherpard wont lets us put the drops in her ear, She get very aggressuve when we try to and she usually is not a aggressive dog. Any idea on how to get the medicine in her ear. Or is it and pill form of this ear drop we can give to her ? she has been to countless of vets and all the vets do is clean her ear out and put her on antibotics. We did the first week of the antibotics but we do not want to keep her on it for too long ?


      Never allow antibiotics, fire those "vets", I've said it a million times here?
      And topical antibiotics are foolish SQUARED!


        we stopped using the antibotics. Do you have any other suggestions for her?! we will take anything


        Nini, you didn't say what her ear problem is? Do you know? What do you see?

        Also be aware: AFTER antibiotics treatment you have a hard time to solve the infection (likely it is). Because now you may not identify the CAUSE of it. Hence why I always say: stupid antibiotics! (use of it)

        @everyone: Going forward, when a "vet" wants to "treat" with antibiotics (or steroids!), RUN!


    I have a 11 month GSD mail tonight i heard him making strange noises when i went to check I found he has a head tilt towards left side his left ear suddenly dropped and he is shaking his head and scratching his left ears and making sounds as if he is in pain. Please advice


      If you have the puppy for longer than last night(?) now check his ears with bright sunlight directed inside. What do you see?


    Hi my German shepherd named Thor is 1 1/2. He's always had a thing for scratching his ears. It's most intense first thing in the morning. He goes to the vets every month for a check up on weight etc. They continually look in his ears but never find any concerns. I have however been informed that some dogs do it because it lets of the happy hormone. I'm looking at breaking the habit if you have any advice? Thank you


      Please can you fill in all here so that I know a bit more about the dog?
      Add also a note how it looks (visible symptoms), not only behavior symptoms, thank you.


    Can someone please help me!!!!? My 5 year old German Shepard has a double ear infection I pay 400.00 every month to have his ear (it use to be one). He holds his head to the side a lot, shakes his head, a lot. They've put him on prednisone, they've given him the ottic drops ( if I'm saying it correct) as well as a cleaning solution to take home and clean his ears. It's NOT mites, it's the same reoccurring ear infection with dark brown wax looking chunks that come up. I am spending my entire savings on his ear and no one can cure him. Okay he has allergies I know this because he itches his snout. I'm at a loss. Every vet I have been to can either not help or I pay no less than 200.00 for absolutely nothing. Someone please help me. I'm in Suffolk Va, I love my baby, this is so draining.


      Lorenda really! I am sad to hear of your problems. Given the incredily precise CURE instructions above I cannot possibly understand why you don't FOLLOW THESE HERE - instead of forking out $400(???) every month!!! :shock:

      The above is the ONLY solution that is guaranteed to work, in every case I have ever dealt with.
      While what your profit greedy allopathic vet prescribes and makes you pay for is, in my view, criminal!

      I admit you will need to READ here, and click links and READ there too, but hey, have we ever learned anything truly helpful in life without reading? No, I guess we haven't. In fact those who don't READ here are the ones forking out gigantic amounts of cash to "vets" that don't deserve a licence.

      Oh, let me add sth interesting: Admittedly, consciously reading the above document and all that is linked therein may take an entire day (took me months to compile it!) but what do you earn in a day? Do you earn those $400? The $400 that you pay out EVERY MONTH, for just the dog's ears??

      No. So do you see the IMMENSE VALUE of what you get here? For free.


    Jack (11 months old) has had a bout of Pancreatis and may still have absorption problems. Ive added raw beef pancreas to his diet. His ear is clean, but he has started carrying it out to the side. No redness or itchiness. He has been such an ill dog. Very tiny at birth and I had to tube feed him. My vet says to take him off raw. Obviously he doesnt know what he is talking about. Kibble of any kind is bad for a dog with pancreatis. Any advice?


    Hello, i have jist adopted a 5 yo gsd about 2 weeks ago. Even after a bath, he smells horrible. I happened to look more closely at his ears and there is a visible petri dish's worth of yeast and bac both (I'm a microbiologist but just guessing still)
    I'm considering some home remedies to tide me over until I can buy the products you recommend, and wondered about your thoughts: dilute vinegar to gradually clean, rubbing garlic cloves juicy side down &/or some kind of soothing salve (several options there) ... I also thought maybe mixing some probiotic powder in with salve or sprinkle on outer ear while moist


      None of that, please.
      I explained above or here why those widely copied DIY Ear Care remedies are foolish squared.
      Cleaning the ears as per the linked Periodical is easy and almost free. I would rather forgo a lunch before I denied my dog clean ears and before I'd have to fork out hundreds of dollars for ear treatment AND then also further health problems triggered by the yeast.

      For the mechanics of a yeast infection and what to avoid, understanding antibiotics is a very worthwhile read too.


    Hi Fellow Mommy of a 8 Year old German Shepard names Timberland who is my beautiful handsome son that I am so worried about, we've took our bout to the vet and the prescribed him antibiotics and war drops and it's very hard and frustrating cause our poor boy is in so much agitation and knowing pain he wouldn't let us administer the ear drops well and when we did he would shake his head and who knows how much would still be in his ear and we tried many ways to get him to take the biotics and he's a smart dog he would spit them out or only take half of them.. I can't watch my boy any more in the condition he's been going through and honestly I'm trying to get him back to the vet asap but financially it's hard right now. I'm What to do I'm hurting cause my baby boy is hurting and seeing him like this. Need help on ways to get him help that I could work with financially and just getting him better. That's all I want is to see my boy better.. Thanks TimbersMomma


      Kindly, READ ABOVE, it solves your problem right away! :-)

      Your vet shouldn't have a licence. :evil:


    Ok well so I take him to the Vet and I have to cause I can't in any way clean his ear out myself cause it hurts him so bad.and when they prescribe biotics or ear drops don't accept? Them how do I toward with his following medical care of his ear giving that he will be hurting from his ear cleaning? Confused and frustrated mommy here.


      You wouldn't be "confused and frustrated" at all, could you decide "Okay, I gonna actually READ now all here that Tim provides, after all I get it for free, ha! While each vet visit I pay for dearly!"

      On every page here we say "The Menu is your friend" for good reason, you know? On MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG - and I can attest, only on MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG - you can literally find every answer you might possibly need, without having to visit your vet. And that's for a reason, you know?

      The reason is, as I always say: Some 98% of all vets shouldn't have a licence, SO MEDIOCRE is their skill (or their interest?) in CURING your dog. Their only interest is TREATING your dog, so that you come back, and so you pay again.

      In your case, antibiotic prescription you say? I know! Hence it has its own chapter here.
      Ear infection? I know, big problem too! Hence it has its own chapter here.
      Steroids prescription? Oh do I know!! Hence it has its own chapter here.
      Pain? Oh do I know that one! Hence it has its own chapter here.
      Dog home treatment? I know the problems, yes. Hence it has its own chapter here.

      Strangly, MYGERMANSHEPHERD.ORG offers everything others don't offer, and yet we are POORER THAN POOR, no funds to even pay the site's cost! Shocking. And then you come, and others, don't care to READ what is already there, take up my time, but don't contribute a penny to put all this help up, for free.

      How would you feel if you had built sth like this, yet with this outcome? :roll:
      How I feel shines only through my words, but no words can describe it!

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