Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. There is no way to treat chronic ear infections at home without veterinary assist. I went through this with a German Shepherd Dog bitch myself for years, and it is an expensive and time-consuming process. The ears need to be cleaned daily, with antinflammatory and maybe antimicrobial drogs given. If they are left unattended, the ears canals can thicken and narrow, until you can no longer clean them or get medication down into them. The worst of it is that the dog is usually in considerable pain from this condition. I would suggest that you discuss your financial situation with your vet to see what payment options are available. CareCredit.com allows payments over a longer period of time than traditional credit card companies. Perhaps family or friends could help? This is not something that can be ignored without great distress to your girl.

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In the meantime, there are some home remedies you can try to ease your pet`s discomfort, such as a warm compress, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide ear flush, and the use of natural anti-inflammatory agents like coconut oil or aloe vera gel.
If your dog is suffering from chronic ear infections, it is important to take them to your veterinarian so that they can perform an otoscopic examination and determine the underlying cause.
Because a German shepherd`s ears are erect, air can circulate within the ear, and your dog`s ear canals will stay dryer than some other breeds. However, German shepherds still get ear infections for other reasons, including exposure to environmental elements, ear mites, and yeast imbalances.
Left untreated ear infections in dogs can develop quickly and result in symptoms such as balance and coordination issues, pain and in severe cases facial paralysis.
Oil of oregano is a natural antibiotic. To use if for your dog`s ear infections, add one drop to ½ oz of warm pure aloe vera juice. Clean the visible parts of the ear with a cotton ball soaked in the mixture. Apple cider vinegar can help reduce the itch and discomfort of an ear infection.
Dab a cotton ball with hydrogen peroxide and add drops of coconut oil for your dog`s ears; it is an effective cleanser. Apple cider vinegar and equal parts water can be used to clean the ears against infection, but do not use this if the ear tissue is raw.
Contact your health care provider if your symptoms don`t improve in 48 to 72 hours. If you have a middle ear infection that doesn`t improve, you should see an ear, nose, and throat specialist (otolaryngologist) or a specialized otologist.
The provider may prescribe antibiotics if the infection is caused by bacteria. These medicines may need to be taken for a long time. They can be given by mouth or into a vein (intravenously). If there is a hole in the eardrum, antibiotic ear drops are used.
If your dog has an ear issue, your veterinarian may suggest a change in your dog`s food. In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a therapeutic hypoallergenic dog food to help limit exposure to potential allergens. Such dog foods may include Hill`s® Prescription Diet® brand dog foods.
Cocker Spaniels, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Miniature Poodles are some breeds predisposed to ear infections. Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, and Beagles, on the other hand, are prone to an idiopathic congenital disease that can cause inflammation and infections of the inner ear.
The most common causes of chronic otitis are allergies, hormonal abnormalities, excess oil production and disorders of skin formation (seborrhea).
When some dogs eat ingredients such as chicken, wheat, corn or other individual items, ingestion will trigger an allergic reaction that can alter the natural flora and allow an unnatural growth of yeast. If your pet suffers from yeasty ears, attempt altering their diet to eliminate common triggers.
Never put olive oil, vinegar, shampoo, or any other substance in a dog`s ear. Also, avoid poking around with cotton buds in the ear, you will only work any wax and debris further in and potentially damage the eardrum.
How are Dog Ear Infections Treated? Your veterinarian will thoroughly clean your dog`s ears using a medicated ear cleanser. Your vet may also prescribe an ear cleanser and a topical medication for you to use at home. In severe cases, your vet may prescribe oral antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.
If the infection does NOT go away, on its own or with treatment, the doctor may recommend ear tube surgery. In this procedure, a tiny tube is inserted into the eardrum to drain the fluid. The tube will usually fall out on its own. Ear infections are very treatable, but they may come back again.
Redness and swelling of the ear

The longer your dog`s ear infection goes on untreated, the more likely you will be to see swelling and redness of the ear. This is a sign that the infection is worsening and needs to be treated right away, so go to the vet immediately if you notice this symptom crop up.

Summary. If a person has three infections within 6 months or four within 12 months, they may need ear tubes. However, doctors may recommend them for other reasons, too, such as chronic infections with fluid buildup for at least 3 months.
There are three main types of ear infections: acute otitis media (AOM), otitis media with effusion (OME), and otitis externa, also known as swimmer`s ear. The symptoms of these ear infections are very similar and can include: Earache.
An untreated infection can spread to other nearby tissue in and around the ear, and in rare cases even into the skull, resulting in meningitis. Infections will more commonly spread to the mastoid, just behind the ear, which can damage the bone and form pus-filled cysts.
There are multiple causes for recurring (chronic) ear infections, or recurring otitis media, ranging from allergies, sinusitis, ear injuries, and bacterial infections from colds or flu.
Complications of middle ear infections are fairly rare, but can be serious if they do occur. Most complications are the result of the infection spreading to another part of the ear or head, including: the bones behind the ear (mastoiditis) the inner ear (labyrinthitis)
Since the ears of German shepherds are deep and erect, they are also prone to wax, dirt and debris collecting inside. Care should be taken after playing in dust, dirt, grass, and water to be sure their ears are clean and dry.
Yogurt contains alive bacteria, such as acidophilus. It helps maintain the right balance of the normal yeast in your dog`s system. If you want to apply it to the infection, dab a small bit of unflavored yogurt that has active strains of probiotic bacteria on the ear.
As a rule of thumb, a routine ear clean should not be needed any more than once every 1 to 2 months for a dog with healthy, normal ears. If more frequent cleaning is required, this should indicate cause for concern.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. One of my pet’s ears seems very irritated. What I can use to clean it with?
ANSWER : A. Ear Irritation can be caused by a number of things ranging from allergies, ear infections or even mites. Dirty ears can also cause irritation and problems. Knowing the type of problem is best for figuring out how to treat it.

For plain dirty ears that do not have any odor, redness or leakage of discharge/debris, a simple over the counter canine ear cleaner can be used. Gently soak some cotton balls or a washcloth with the cleaner, and then use these to wipe out the flap of the ear and opening to the ear. Do NOT use Q-tips as these can become stuck or lodged in the curve of the ear canal and may cause injury to the ear drum.

If the ear is bright red or itchy without any dirt or debris in it, it may indicate an allergy. Sometimes an allergy medication can help provide relief in this situation. Your vet can give you the correct dosages of an over the counter allergy medication to use, or may recommend one specifically for dogs.

For infections and mites, changes to the ear such as bad smell or lots of debris and discharge, flecks of black or brown debris, or scabs and sores in the ear may be present. In these cases, it is best to have your vet take a sample of the ear debris to test for mites or infection. Your vet can then give you an ointment that is placed and left in the ear between ear cleanings. Most vets will then recommend cleaning the ears twice daily and then leaving in the ointment after for a period of ten days.

Ear mites ARE contagious to other pets, so if your dog does have them, it is best to treat any other pets in the house at the same time to prevent the mites from spreading around continuously.

Q. Hi, my German shepherd has had ear infections in both of her ears for a long time now. I can’t afford a vet visit. What should I do?
ANSWER : A. There is no way to treat chronic ear infections at home without veterinary assist. I went through this with a German Shepherd Dog bitch myself for years, and it is an expensive and time-consuming process. The ears need to be cleaned daily, with antinflammatory and maybe antimicrobial drogs given. If they are left unattended, the ears canals can thicken and narrow, until you can no longer clean them or get medication down into them. The worst of it is that the dog is usually in considerable pain from this condition. I would suggest that you discuss your financial situation with your vet to see what payment options are available. CareCredit.com allows payments over a longer period of time than traditional credit card companies. Perhaps family or friends could help? This is not something that can be ignored without great distress to your girl.

Q. My dog is having ear problems. I have had her at two vets and they can not seem to find the cause. Can you help?
ANSWER : A. For a pet with chronic ear issues I would recommend checking her thyroid levels. Hypothyroidism can be a cause of chronic ear infections.

Then I would recommend having a bacterial culture of the ear debris to ensure the appropriate antibiotic is chosen to completely rid the bacteria in there. If there is resistant bacteria, the ear will appear to get better at first but then once ear meds are stopped they will thrive again and cause a re-emergency of the ear infection. Also longer treatment may be needed, for example instead of 7-10 days, perhaps 14 days continuously.

If all else fails, I would recommend a skull radiographs to look for signs of a narrow ear canal and/or an inner ear infection which will require not only topical antibiotic ointments put into the ear, but also oral antibiotics.
Most ear infections are caused by moisture in the ears, narrow ear canals, hypothyroidism or skin allergies. Each one has to be gone through systematically.

Q. Can you use Floxin Otic for ear infections on dogs?
ANSWER : A. Floxin Otic is an ear cleaning solution designed for the clearing of ear infections in people. While it may be similar to dog products used for ear infections, it is best to bring it to your vet’s attention first so he or she can compare it to dog-safe products. It may be that it is in the same concentration and can be safely used, or your vet can instead recommend a product that is in the right formulation.

If you are seeing an ear infection in your dog’s ears, your vet can provide you with a dog-safe medication to use. Ear infections are usually treated over a period of ten days and involve cleaning the ear 2x daily and then placing the otic ointment in the ear to stay in place until the next cleaning.

Q. I have two problems with my 16 yrs old dog: he’s constipated and has a ear ache. What can I use to relieve these?
ANSWER : A. Constipation is a common problem in dogs that can be due to a number of things. However it is a good idea to make sure the constipation is not actually diarrhea, as some dogs can strain after a bowel movement, making it look like such. If constipation is present, adding a little pumpkin puree or plain yogurt to the diet can help make digestion easier and make stools easier to pass. However if symptoms do not resolve after a few days, it is best to speak with your vet.

For ear aches, it is best to have your vet examine the ear as many things including allergies, ear infections, mites and more can cause ear problems. If the ear is just dirty, then cleaning the ear gently with cotton balls or a clean washcloth and a dog ear cleaning solution can help. Do not use Q-tips as a dog’s ear has a 90-degree turn in it and placing Q-tips in the ear can cause damage to the canal or inner ear. However if the problem persists or cleaning does not help, it is best to seek care.

Q. My dog keeps shaking his head at night and is very anxious acting? We’ve cleaned his ears and putting ear drops in hasn’t helped?
ANSWER : A. It sounds like ear canal infection. I am not sure if you used ear drops to clean ears (they do not contain antibiotics) or ear drops from your vets to treat ear infection. In case you used ear cleaner only you should take your dog to your vets to get antibiotics. If you are using antibiotics drops and there is no improvement your vet may recommend taking a swab from the ear to check what bacteria, fungus or parasite is responsible for the infection and then pick the most effective medication.

Q. My dog has a bad ear infection, his ear is leaking a smelly fluid. Can he take a penicillin to get rid of it?
ANSWER : A. If your dog has an ear infection it is best to have your veterinarian examine it. Ear infections, depending on their type are treated differently. The most common way to treat an ear infection is through daily cleaning of the affected ear and then placement of a medicated ointment that stays in the ear until the next cleaning. Oral antibiotics are sometimes used, but usually in cases where the infection has spread or ointment has not cleared it up.

Do not use penicillin to treat your dog unless instructed by your veterinarian to do so. Penicillin is a general antibiotic and may not be the right choice for treating this particular infection. The wrong dosage can also cause your dog to become very ill.

Q. One my friends dogs has a yeast infection in his ear. Is their anything they can try at home to cure this. They are not working and have no money.
ANSWER : A. Cleaning out the ear 2-3 times daily with an over the counter pet ear cleaner may help to clear up the infection. Some pet stores do also carry over the counter versions of medications to treat yeast and may contain ingredients such as Tea Tree Oil – a natural fungal and yeast killer.

Treatment of ear infections typically involves cleaning the ear twice daily, then applying the medicated ointment to leave in the ear in between cleanings. A period of 7-10 days is usually enough to clear up the infection with medication. However, if the infection continues past 10 days, or appears to worsen with treatment, your friends should seek veterinary care.

If your friends need help with affording veterinary care, several services are available such as http://www.carecredit.com/vetmed/. This article from the US Humane Society may also help in finding funding for care: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/resources/tips/trouble_affording_veterinary_care.html