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Ear Wash Remedy

Question: My dog keeps getting chronic yeast infections in her ears. Is there an over the counter medication I can give her to relieve the pain in any way?

This seems to be a common problem, especially for dogs with long floppy ears. The best remedy we have found (and we've tried a lot of them), is an inexpensive mixture you can make yourself. Ear Wash Remedy is effective for treating ear problems arising from mites, wax buildup and even canker.

IMPORTANT! DO NOT use this remedy on a dog whose ears are raw or has blood coming from the inner ear. See your vet! We advise against using this product on cats or a pregnant or lactating dog.

Witch Hazel, Gentian Violet and Boric Acid are all generally found on the same aisle of any grocery store or pharmacy. Gentian violet is many times found on the Hispanic aisle of these stores.

Prices vary from store to store and some charge up to three times the amount for the exact same product, so compare prices first as you will always want to keep this remedy on hand for future needs.

Some formulas call for alcohol in place of the Witch Hazel but use Witch Hazel instead. It serves the same purpose and does not burn like alcohol. The last thing you want to do is cause more pain by adding alcohol to already inflamed ears!

ear canal of dog drawingLooking closely at this drawing, one can quickly ascertain why Q-Tips or any other stick like object inserted into a dogs ear for cleaning purposes should only be done by a qualified vet. The "L" shape of the interior of the ear can easily be damaged causing not only much pain but in some cases, irreversible damage. If you must clean your dogs ears, use only a soft, thin cloth and gently wipe the inside of the ear but do not venture deep into the ear canal. It is not worth the risk of having the dog lose it's hearing.

This treatment has worked in many a dog that was destined for surgery. In about 80% of the cases, it will take care of the problem. Dogs on the verge of ear canal surgery have been returned to normal with only the regular follow-up treatment to keep the ear healthy.

If your dog has chronic ear infections, look into what you are feeding them as diet plays a very important part in their health and the health of their ears.

Diet may be a contributing factor to frequent ear infections. A diet lacking proper enzymes and nutritional supplements or containing many unnecessary grains used as 'fillers' may sometimes be the cause. Please consider what breed your dog is and feed accordingly. Not all breeds require the same foods and what is great for one may be the worst possible food for another. In the long run, it is less costly to feed breed specific foods.  http://www.k911.biz/Petsafety/DogFoodNutrition.htm

Ear Wash Remedy Mixture

  • 16 ounces of Witch Hazel (DO NOT use alcohol). Alcohol burns and there is no reason to subject your dog to more pain than he may already be experiencing).

  • 16 drops of Gentian Violet 1% tincture (DO NOT use more than what is recommended)

  • 4 tablespoons of Boric Acid powder

  • Small ear syringe bottle (as used for babies) 

  • Syringe without the needle (of course!). Some pharmacists will give you a syringe if you tell them what it is to be used for.

To make 2oz (two ounces is equal to a medicine dropper), divide the above formula by eight.

Mix the above ingredients together and shake well before each use. Gentian Violet stains everything so apply outdoors if possible and make sure your dog has shaken out the excess along with any debris lodged in the ear before allowing onto furniture.

DO NOT use this solution near the eyes or genitals of your pet. Never give it to him to orally (by mouth).  It is to be applied to the skin only!


On the initial application GENTLY squeeze the contents of the syringe into the dogs ear. NEVER hurriedly force in the liquid or push the syringe deep into the ear canal, you could rupture the dog's eardrum, causing a lot of pain. You are only trying to cleanse any loose debris from the ear. Allow the dog to shake out any excess and then wipe out the ear with a clean cloth or paper towel.

Using the syringe again, gently squeeze in the contents and rub the base of the ear (where it meets the dog's skull) to ensure the liquid is properly distributed. If the dog will allow for it, wait 15 seconds while gently rubbing the outside portion of the ear near the base. Allow the dog to shake out any excess liquid. This could get nasty, depending on how gunkified the ears are, so be prepared! 

Follow-up schedule of treatment

  • Treat twice daily for the first week or two, depending upon severity of infection.

  • Treat once per day for the next one to two weeks. 

  • Treat once per month (depends on the dogs propensity for ear infections)

If an infection seems to be remaining in the treated ear after the above course of treatment, he may have Pseudomonas bacteria in the ear which can be eradicated by using a gentle flush of raw Apple Cider Vinegar and warm water. Use 2 Tablespoons of vinegar to one cup of water, 2 times per week.