Ear inflammation/infection is a fairly common and annoying problem in both dogs and cats. In many cases there are underlying causes such as inhalant allergies to molds, grasses, dander, pollen, etc., as well as food allergies to ingredients in commercial pet foods.
Some dogs even have underlying low thyroid levels, which can predispose them to recurrent ear infections. It is important that your veterinarian address these potential underlying causes or the problem will recur.
The signs of an ear infection/inflammation include shaking of the head or holding the head to one side, scratching or rubbing the ears, the presence of a yellow, brown or black discharge in the ears, a bad smell in the ears or tenderness, redness or hot ears. Vigorous scratching can break blood vessels in the earflap, causing the entire ear to swell.
These ear hematomas must usually be treated by surgical drainage. Watch out for head tilting, clumsiness, or walking in circles, as these can be signs of an inner ear infection, which needs immediate treatment by your veterinarian.
There are several home remedies that can sometimes help minimize discomfort in our pets, and that can sometimes also be used as a preventative measure for pets with recurrent problems.
If the ears contain much oily or waxy secretion, trickle about 1/2 teaspoon of almond oil into the ear hole, preferably using a dropper or squeeze bottle. Then massage the ear canal until you hear a "squishing" sound. Use a tissue to remove the material that has worked its way out. This is particularly useful in pets predisposed to ear mites.
A 50-50 mixture of white vinegar and water can also be regularly and liberally flushed down the ear canals. Due to the acetic acid in this solution, this is often helpful in pets with recurrent yeast or bacterial infections.
If the ear is red or inflamed, you can use calendula oil or fresh aloe vera juice from a health food store.
1-800-PetMeds also has some nice products which are very helpful including 1-800-PetMeds Ear Cleansing Solution, Epi-Otic Ear Cleaner, and Oti-Clens Cleansing Solution
For more information on ear care, contact your veterinarian.