One of the main reasons why dog’s are plagued by continuous ear problems is due to poor nutrition, or a diet that simply doesn’t work for the individual dog due to food sensitivities. Retrievers are high on the list for constant ear problems and my Lulu wasn’t any different.  I should say until I learned how to eliminate her ear problems for good.

She was the “yeastiest” dog I ever had.  Lulu had it all including one ear infection after another.

I set out on a mission to figure out exactly what I needed to do for Lulu to keep her healthy and yeast free. I had dogs my entire life, but never any with the yeast issues that she had.  This was many years ago before I knew what I know now.

Instructions For Cleaning Up The Infection

So, let’s say that your dog has stinky ears, they’re red, inflamed and packed with yeast. Here are the necessary steps to get rid of the infection in your dog’s ears, permanently:

Step 1.
The first step is to kill the yeast in the ears, eliminate any inflammation and itch and restore the ears to a healthy state. The absolute best product that we’ve found is called Zymox. They offer two different solutions; one with cortisone and one without. We’ve had tremendous luck with the CORTISONE FREE solution that you see here.

I keep this on hand at all times, but quite honestly, I never need it because my dog’s diet is optimal and their health is excellent.

Step 2.
If you’re not already doing so, start your dog on high-quality dog food. If you’re already feeding high-quality dog food and your dog has systematic yeast issues along with reoccurring ear problems, the food may not be working. It could be that your dog has an issue with a particular protein source such as chicken, beef, etc. You can try eliminating a protein source and using another to see if it makes a difference.  I recommend checking out my recommended list of foods to give you an idea of better choices for your own dog.

Step 3.
Don’t overlook this step. Keep your dog CLEAN! Keep his body clean and keep his ears clean.  If you’re battling a yeast problem, you can read more about how to treat it here.  If The Above Steps Fail – Here’s The Next Step

In the event that you do all the above and you’re still dealing with ear infections, etc. – it’s time to look your dog’s thyroid – even if you’ve had it checked before. In fact, you might want to do this first to definitely rule out a thyroid issue.

This is IMPORTANT! Since many conventional veterinarians can’t read thyroid tests accurately, it is strongly recommended to use a specialist such as Dr. Jean Dodds. This is her area of expertise and she does testing for pet owners all over the world. Your vet can draw the blood and send it to her lab for testing. It’s not a big deal since the veterinarian will most likely send it out to another lab anyway.

You will find excellent information on dog hypothyroidism as well as a link to print out the copies for Dr. Dodd’s. The copies must be given to your own Veterinarian so that they can include them with the blood work when they send it on to her.

Quality Food Makes All The Difference

When a dog develops an ear infection, it can be due to a number of reasons. Feeding cheap, low-grade dog food and a

lack of quality protein will lead to all sorts of trouble including chronic ear problems, yeast infections and other skin issues, digestive upset including excessive gas and so on.

Again, diets that lack a high-quality protein source contribute to most chronic ear infections.

Getting To The Bottom of The Real Problem

It’s important that you understand that it’s not a matter of giving the dog an antibiotic each time the dog develops an infection which is what most conventional vets do. When you take your dog to a traditional veterinarian, he will typically look at the ears and if red and inflamed, he sends you home with an antibiotic to use twice a day for ten days.

Well, this just treats the symptom – NOT THE REAL PROBLEM! So, now your dog is back on antibiotics which once again destroys the good bacteria in your dog’s gut, leaving him open to a whole host of other problems as well as disease in the future. The antibiotics tear down his immune system and make the dog more susceptible to the same condition over and over.

A strong immune system and a healthy gut is needed to naturally fight off infection and disease.  Outside of feeding correctly; anytime a dog is placed on antibiotics, probiotics should be given at the same time (one hour after the antibiotic). A good source of probiotics (all aren’t good) will replenish what the antibiotics drain from the dog’s system.

If you continue to just place the dog on antibiotics and continue to feed the same unhealthy diet – unwanted results will continue over and over again. The dog’s immune system will remain weak and cause bigger health problems as the dog ages.  His body just doesn’t have the necessary tools to make it happen once his body is depleted of all the healthy bacteria in the gut.

Hippocrates stated that “all disease begins in the gut“.

You would think that since veterinarians take the Hippocratic Oath that they would be taught more about food and natural health, but, they are not and nor do many of them care.

So, what does this mean?  It means that you should do what it takes to feed your dog correctly. Not just feed him as a convenience for yourself by opening a bag of cheap, processed food and throwing it in a bowl and expecting him to be healthy.  Your dog’s body isn’t designed to work that way.  Food alone is the biggest problem for chronic ear infections in dogs.

It’s important when your dog is on antibiotics especially, or currently has an infection to provide probiotics at the same time.

When you keep treating the symptom and you don’t treat the underlying problem, you’re NEVER going to see positive results with your dog’s ears.


FINAL NOTE: Search out a good holistic veterinarian in your area.

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Showing 23 comments
  • K.Fletcher

    I have been through everything to help my cocker spaniel with his chronic ear issues- theres no food he hasnt tried, and he’s been on most of the natural remedies and yes, Zymox too. My question is, would a dog who acts energetic , playful, and healthy otherwise, be possibly afflicted with a thyroid issue? My vet. and I both think he would have other symptoms (like tired) if its thyroid. Any thoughts?

    • janie

      Have you tried feeding home made and do you include any supplements? When was the last time you vaccinated him and do you use chemical flea and tick products?


  • Jon

    Hi Janie
    My name is Jon.

    I am Kevin’s friend and fellow mailman in Moon. I am. at the end of the rope with my dog Splinter.

    He is a 3 year old german shepherd. He has been getting ear infections since last December. I am tired of giving him antibiotics so I have been trying the Ear mist. It hasn’t worked well as of yet.

    Do you have any other suggestions? I am probably going to try him on a raw diet but I need help with his ears.

    Thank you.

    • Janie

      Hi Jon:

      I’m so sorry to hear about Splinter. I moved your comment over to my page regarding clearing up an infection in the ears. It includes a link for Zymox which should most definitely clear up the ear problem. But, if you don’t get to the source of what’s causing the ear infections (most likely diet or environmental allergies), then you’ll run into this problem again. Zymox is an excellent product. They offer one formula with hydrocortisone and one without. Both are equally good.

      I’m glad to hear that you’re probably going to feed raw. Raw works very well for shepherds. Just remember when feeding raw; if you’re preparing it yourself, you MUST balance it with the necessary vitamins and minerals. My own dogs eat raw, but it’s prepared raw frozen. I buy both Answers and Primal. Avoid rawhide and chicken strips and anything that comes from China like the plague. Watch the types of treats you feed. You can feed cookie type treats, just make sure they are all natural and don’t contain sugar, dyes, etc. For chewing purposes, give Splinter deer antlers. They are an excellent treat made of pure calcium and they last a long time.

      Read through the entire article Jon. You can also take a look at the link with foods I recommend. Once you get to this page, you’ll notice that there isn’t any recommendations of raw food. That’s because my site is geared towards those with older dogs and I don’t recommend starting an older dog on raw, simply because of the uncertainty of whether or not their immune system is strong enough to handle it. Keep in mind that good dog foods are expensive, but, they will save you money in vet bills; that’s a fact.

      Give Splinter a multi-vitamin daily; even if it’s a Centrum (plain old Centrum) from the grocery store. I typically recommend other supplements, but if you feed raw, more often than not, you don’t need them. One item I strongly recommend adding to any diet, raw, etc. is organic coconut oil. Give your boy two teaspoons daily. One with each meal.

      I hope this helps. The zymox will clear up the infection. The link is above within the article.

      Let me know how it goes. Tell Kevin “Hey.”


  • margie

    Please remove me from your mailing list . My dog had to be put to sleep as there was nothing more i could do for her. I miss her very much.

  • chris

    I have a small dog who is constantly plagued with yeast infections in his ears. Had him repeatedly on antibiotic pills for the yeast infection, to no avail.

    Being a new dog owner I’m at a loss as to what to do for him. Started reading some of your reader comments and found them to be helpful….but my question is…..what form of probiotics do I give my dog? I have recently switched his food from regular dog food to rice/chicken/vegetables that I prepare.

    He has not been on this diet for long, although he loves it, how long will it take before I see any results? While on vacation he pick-up a giardi bacteria and has struggled with that. Vet put him on antibiotics and meds for the bloody stool, he seems to be struggling with his health and I would like to know what I can do to build his immune system up and make him a healthier dog?

    • janie knetzer

      Hi Chris:
      I’m sorry about the issues your little fur baby is having. I’m going to recommend a regimen that you follow that should get your baby on track and stay on track.

      As a new dog owner, I strongly recommend that you seek out a holistic vet in your area vs traditional care like you’re using now. As you can see, you haven’t had much success with your little guy’s issues. That’s because your vet is only treating the symptom and not the real root of the problem which is what a GOOD holistic vet will do. They treat your dog as a WHOLE.

      As far as which probiotic you should buy; I’m going to recommend the brand that I use on my own dogs. It includes both plant enzymes (to help break down the food he eats) and probiotics to help build the immune system. Keep it in the fridge.

      Stay away from antibiotics for his ear issues – they are making the problem much worse.

      The next thing is cleaning up the ear which I HIGHLY recommend that you keep the Zymox ear correction product on hand and use when and if he develops ear issues. Remember, DO NOT TO CLEAN THE EARS BEFORE USING this product.

      Once his ears are cleared up, you can use plain old apple cider vinegar (1 part) and warm water (2 parts) to gently clean the ears with cotton balls. Wet the cotton, squeeze out the excess and wipe.

      Adding high quality fatty acids to his diet is absolutely critical. This is a must through out his life.

      Your little fella needs green food. Dogs will often search out grass looking for chlorphyll that their body needs. This is one of my absolute favorite products that will build the immune system immensely. You only need a tiny bit so this will go a long way. Here’s a guide for you to follow for dosage: My own 100 pound lab gets a teaspoon divided into two doses. Don’t worry, you won’t hurt him if you give him a little more.

      Last but not least. Food. The rice, chicken and vegetable diet tastes good to your boy, but I’m not quite sure if you’re balancing it and it MUST be nutritionally balanced with necessary vitamins and minerals. My recommendation is to use Grandma Lucy’s Artisan PUREformance formula. This has no rice or carbs which yeast thrives on by the way. It’s a simple, home made meal in seconds. Add warm water to it. I also recommend that you add a little sauteed chicken or other meat to it for added protein. DO NOT BY THE REGULAR GRANDMA LUCY’s Artisan Formula which contains large amounts of carbs.

      If you follow the above protocol, you will be years ahead of most seasoned dog owners. 😮

      Site Administrator and Loving Dog Owner

  • Di

    I have a year old Australian Shepard mix that has cauliflowered ears due to hematomas caused by his sisters as a pup. He keeps getting recurring yeast infections in his ears only. His ear canals are so twisted that it is hard to clean them….any suggestions?

    • admin

      Hello Di:
      I was working with a friend whose bull dog had the very same issue and you could actually hear the swishing of liquid down within the ear canal. We switched foods for over a year and although better, we couldn’t get it to permanently clear up.

      Finally, what worked was using a “limited ingredient” fish based food made by Nutro. I typically would NEVER recommend Nutro brand, but since it worked for Biscuit; I’m sharing the results. He cleared right up.

      Cleaning cauliflower ears are difficult and you’re not going to be able to get the liquid out yourself (don’t try); just clean what you can. My recommendation since they are reoccurring is try a limited ingredient fish based food and look for a difference. Remember that all dogs are different, so fish might not be his thing, but a limited ingredient chicken based food might. ALWAYS include a good probiotic in your dog’s diet – this is especially true for dogs like this that are prone to yeast and ear issues. Biscuit is also kept on probiotics.

      So, you’re going to have to see what works. I hope this helps.

      Site Admin.

  • al ellis

    First of all no more antibiotics. Haven’t you ever had a yeast infection? Antibiotics kills good yeast as well as bad yeast so stop those. I was feeding very expensive dog food and found that even that has something in it that causes the red, itchy ears and it breaks my heart for one reason it doesn’t do any good and because at the Vet.’s office its $100 a bag, I suspect it’s the preservatives they use. My daughter was a Vet. tech., and is now a nurse for people and she said quit feeding them prepared dog foods. Use rice or boiled potatoes as filler, along with frozen (thawed) vegetables and chicken. I cook my chicken in a pressure cooker without any salt, pepper, butter, no skin or fat or anything, NO ADDITATIVES, I can’t emphasize that enough, NO ADDITIVES. I cook up enough for a week and separate it into individual daily containers. I give them rice or potatoes, vegetables and chicken. Viola no more itchy ears but when and if any should pop up I give them a Bendadryl tablet about every 6 hours. This is usually only necessary in Spring and Fall. I am so happy my fur babies no longer suffer, and they do very well on this diet. For treats I give them hard cookies, and I brush their teeth twice daily. Oh by the way, for breakfast they each get a piece of dry toast broken into bite size, an egg and some veggies (small amount of veggies for breakfast) but again no salt, pepper or butter. My dogs love their new diet and literally dance for their meals, they LOVE IT. Good luck, just get those fur babies off of prepared dog foods, even expensive ones. Please let me know how they are doing, the itching stops pretty fast using this diet. Oh an I give them a multi vitamin daily. If you need to clean their ears about every 3-4 days with a Vet. prepared ear cleaner that has cortisone in it. That will help with the itching until the diet starts working. I pray your dogs do as well as my mine do on this plan. My fur babies are 9 and 10 years old and I know it has added more years to their lives because they eat better and don’t suffer.

  • Leigh

    Hi – Just joined the site after exhaustive research trying to find help for my 145 lb King Shepherd ear and skin issues. He has constant ear infections and very itchy all the time, he is a little OCDish with his chewing of his paws too and does develop terrible hot spots from time to time. He has zero parasites; no fleas or mites but has an ear infection a month and always itchy.

    We’ve had him on steroids, antibiotics etc., but relief is short lived. His ears hurt and he is such a gentle giant and never complains but he is whining now which is so unlike him. After a rough start with his food – he had constant tummy trouble we found a solution with Royal Canine and has two boiled chicken breasts every day, so am not sure it’s his food? He gets a long brushing every second day only because I don’t want to irritate his skin by brushing daily. VERY heavy coat.

    I don’t want to continue down the road with meds – antibiotics and steroids anymore – they aren’t helping. Feel so awful for our giant! Any advice?

    • admin

      Hi Leigh:
      Thanks for taking a minute to join our site and share your gentle giant’s story with us. My advice is to first – get him off of Royal Canine food and switch him to a better, higher quality protein food. I’m not sure what your budget is, but I recommend The Honest Kitchen “Force” formula which is very close to home made and is actually made in a human grade facility where they make other human products. I also recommend adding Wellness Ninety Five Percent to the mix as a nice source of added quality protein.

      I would also purchase Zymox “cortisone free” formula. This is a safe, effective enzyme product that works very well for dogs with chronic ear problems. The idea is to figure out what’s causing the ear problems. So, I recommend that you first switch his food and use the Zymox. If it continues, then environmental issues (seasonal allergies) may be playing a part so you can include Benedryl as needed. See our page on dog skin problems for dosage, etc.

      I hope this helps.
      Site Admin.

  • al ellis

    My puppy also ate his own feces and I was told by my Vet this is not an unusual thing but trust me, it was unusual as far as I was concerned and unacceptable. I fought him like crazy to stop him from eating it and then while on vacation I noticed he was eating everything he could get into his mouth like twigs, leaves, rocks. etc. I had always felt it was something missing from his diet or immune system because we never know how much the mama’s dogs are bred out of greed. After watching him for 6-8 months eating his feces and then noticing him trying to eat leaves, twigs, etc., I felt he was or could be lacking fiber in his diet. Yes he got dry dog food but perhaps he needed more fiber so I went an purchased a fiber therapy pill that was mainly for bulk eliminations. The pills I got was specifically “methylcellulose 500 mg.” fiber therapy caplets. I got them at Walmart and used their own brand very successfully I might add. He quit eating his feces almost immediately, and I was thrilled, still am. He no longer craves his feces and now he no longer takes the fiber therapy. Good luck.

    • admin

      Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. What an encouraging story Al. Glad to hear he no longer eats his feces. 😮
      Site Admin.

  • Jan Sykora

    My 12 yo Lab eats well, alternating between Orijen and Honest Kitchen and eats her OWN feces. I’ve used Coproban which has a primary ingredient of MSG and this product has been a fairly successful deterrent…..would adding MSG alone be sufficient or even recommended??? Can you suggest another food additive or should I just stay with the more expensive Coproban? Thank you.

    • admin

      Hi Jan:
      Personally, I don’t think adding the MSG alone would do it and salt isn’t something I ever recommend adding to a dog’s diet. If you look at the ingredients you’ll also see cellulase from dried Aspergillus niger fermentation which is found in digestive enzymes. I was just talking with my dog’s vet about this last week because my dobie will sometimes do this and she (holistic vet) recommends adding digestive enzymes. Jenna hasn’t done it for awhile (3 weeks actually) and I think it has to do with the supplements she is now taking, although she is taking an RX vitamin for cancer.

      I would try the digestive enzymes first and don’t go with a junk product or yogurt.; you need a good one. Here’s the one that I use on my yellow lab which contains many different strains of different enzymes for the digestive tract:

      I think another option worth trying would be a really good multi-vitamin like Animal Essentials Multi-Vitamin which gets very good reviews.

      Good luck and I would love to know how things go with your old girl.
      Janie 😮

      • Bets

        Who in the world can afford that dog food? Not I.

        • janie

          Hi Bets:

          I’m assuming your dog has a lot of ear issues since your comment is on this page regarding ear issues. There are other ways to help the diet if you can’t afford one of the top of the line foods.

          I understand all too well how hard this can be. We’ve always had big dogs and it’s extremely hard to feed them these foods with regards to budget.

          Anyway, if you need some with what else you can do, just ask and I’ll try to help.


        • Mark

          Agree, don’t have that kind of cash for dog food, makes it tough when cant aford the recommemded diet,heck Imdont even have health insurance and am on disability lol… good luck to you!

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