Every dog owner dreads the sight of their beloved dog shaking its head and scratching its ears incessantly. Unfortunately, ear infections are all too common in dogs, often causing them significant distress.
Coconut oil has been hailed by many as a ‘miracle’ cure for numerous ailments.
But is coconut oil an effective remedy for ear infections in your dog?
Coconut oil has anti-fungal and bacterial properties that may help with ear infections in dogs. However, we need to be careful with what we put in our dog’s ear canal to prevent the ear infection from getting worse.
In this article, we will be taking a more in-depth look into coconut oil for our dogs and the potential benefits of coconut oil as a remedy.
What Is Coconut Oil?
Most of us would have used coconut oil as a supplement or as an ingredient in our cooking or baking.
Coconut oil is made from coconuts and it is very high in saturated fats, almost up to 90%.
You can even use coconut cream to make coconut whipped cream which many dogs love to eat.
Coconut oil is extracted from coconut flesh or the kernel using different methods that involve heat or cold pressing.
Based on how the coconut oil is extracted from the coconut meat, the oil can be graded into different levels of purity.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Coconut Oil?
Coconut oil has earned its reputation as being a superfood similar to the likes of acai berry and green tea.
Coconut oil is said to be able to:
- Help with weight loss
- Antimicrobial effects
- Reduce hunger pangs
- Helps to reduce seizures
- Boost skin and fur health
- Helps moisturize elbow calluses in dogs
- Good antioxidant
- Helps with dental hygiene
Even though coconut oil has been touted to have many health properties, most of the benefits have only been studied on humans and not animals.
This is why we still need to proceed with caution when using it on our dogs.
What Is Causing Your Dog’s Ear Infection?
Ear infections in dogs are rather common encounters that most dog owners have to deal with. It can range from minor ear infections to one that doesn’t seem to go away.
Breeds such as Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers and Poodles are more prone to getting ear infections due to their floppy ears which tend to trap more dirt and moisture.
When it comes to dog ear infections, moisture and dampness are always the major catalysts.
Common symptoms of an ear infection are:
- Redness in the ear
- Excessive ear wax
- Bad smell coming from the ear
- Excessive scratching in and around the ear
- Shaking of the head
- Blood and pus
My dog has had a couple of ear infections in the past the biggest telltale sign was always a bad odor.
Ear infections can be very painful and itchy for your dog and the non-stop scratching and head shaking can be very frustrating for them.
Here are some causes of ear infections in dogs.
Dogs that have allergies are more prone to getting an ear infection as well.
Your dog’s allergy can be triggered by something in the environment like pollen and durst or even something in its food.
Once your dog allergy is triggered, it will cause your dog’s skin to itch, especially in areas like its ears and face.
Yeast infections are another common cause of ear infections in dogs. Yeast is a fungus that naturally lives on your dog’s skin and ear.
When everything is in balance, the yeast colony in your dog remains under control.
However, there are a few factors that can cause the yeast levels to get out of hand and cause a yeast infection in your dog’s ears.
- Hot and humid weather
- Poor immune system
- Moisture trapped in your dog’s ear
Yeast infections can cause a brown and greasy discharge in your dog’s ear together with a ‘sourish’ smell.
The same thing can happen when your dog has a bacterial infection in its ear.
This happens when the bacteria living in your dog’s ear grows to dangerous levels and causes an infection.
An ear mite infection isn’t really a common cause of ear infections in dogs as compared to cats but it can still happen.
Dogs can get ear mites by coming into contact with an infected dog or cat. Ear mites are more commonly found in puppies than adult dogs.
Besides causing a lot of itching in your dog’s ear, you can also notice a lot of dark brown discharge in your dog’s ear.
Can Coconut Oil Cure Your Dog’s Ear Infection?
The health benefits of using coconut oil aren’t just hocus pocus. They have been studies done over the last decade to ascertain the goodness of using coconut oil as a natural remedy.
Coconut oil doesn’t just make your kitchen smell like a Caribbean beach!
Coconut oil is loaded with medium-chain fatty acids or also known as MCFAs or medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs).
A study has shown that the lauric acid in coconut oil has effective anti-bacterial properties.
Lauric acid is able to get rid of a range of bacteria during the test one of which was Staphylococcus aureus which is a common bacteria that causes ear infections in dogs.
There is also a study showing the effectiveness of coconut oil against yeast infections.
The study was conducted on the human yeast strain called Candida and not the yeast strain found in a dog ear infection, Malassezia.
Even though the yeast strain is different in dogs, there is a strong possibility that coconut oil can be used as an anti-fungal medication for canine ear infections.
Coconut oil can be good for yeast infections in dog ears.
Does Coconut Oil Eliminate Ear Mites In Dogs?
Ear mites are parasites that feed off your dog’s ear wax. And according to some dog owners, the best way to destroy ear mites is to suffocate them.
There are some anti-parasitic medications sold at pet stores that can deal with ear mites as well.
But not all dog owners are keen on such remedies due to the strong side effects that the active ingredients can cause in their dogs.
A more holistic approach would be to use certain oils like olive oil or coconut oil to asphyxiate the mites.
Some even recommend using green tea which is a natural antiseptic.
How Do I Use Coconut Oil In My Dog’s Ears?
When using coconut oil in your dog’s ear, you need to be very careful. Due to the texture and viscosity of coconut oil, you can do more harm than good if you use too much.
I would suggest taking a few cotton balls and dip them into some coconut oil.
Gently and thoroughly rub the external part of your dog’s ear and clean out as much discharge as possible.
You can also a dropper to put a few drops of warm liquified coconut oil into your dog’s ear. Make sure it’s not too hot or you will burn your dog’s delicate ear.
Give a gentle massage at the base of the ear to help the oil work its way in.
Don’t want to use too much coconut oil and create a moist and damp environment for the infection to get worse.
How To Choose The Right Coconut Oil?
Don’t just use any coconut oil that you can find and start using it on your dog.
There are a few important things to look out for when choosing the right coconut oil.
Go For Organic
Organic coconut oil is free from pesticides and other chemicals that could potentially harm your dog.
It ensures that the oil is extracted from coconuts that have been grown without the use of harmful substances.
Virgin Or Extra Virgin
Both terms mean that the oil is unrefined, cold-pressed and does not undergo any bleaching or deodorizing process.
This type retains the most nutrients and is typically higher in quality than refined oils.
Therapeutic grade coconut oil has impressive stability and a longer shelf life. It features a low moisture content of and a high lauric acid content.
This ensures your dog gets the maximum health benefits.
How Do I Prevent Ear Infections In My Dog?
It might not be possible to totally prevent ear infections in your dog but you can definitely lower the frequency of it happening.
Regular Ear Cleaning
Prevention is better than cure and the most important thing that you can do is to clean your dog’s ears regularly.
You can get a cleaning solution from your vet or pet store and clean both the inside and outside of your dog’s ears.
Your dog’s ears are very sensitive so get the vet to show you how to clean it properly, especially the inside so that you don’t damage the ear drums.
Keep The Ear Dry
Moisture and your dog’s ears don’t mix.
A damp ear is always a breeding ground for infections.
Take a dry towel and dry off your dog’s ears after a shower or if it has been playing in the water.
Regular Visual Checks
Take a small torch and closely inspects your dog’s ears for any discharge, excessive wax or small moving specks.
Regular checks on the ears can help to nip infections in the bud before they get too serious.
When To See A Vet For Dog’s Ear Infection?
I understand that bringing your dog to the vet isn’t the most enjoyable thing for us dog owners.
Not only are vets costly but some dogs can get very stressed out when they know it is time to see the doctor.
And a stressed-out dog also translates to a stressed-out owner.
But it is a necessary evil.
As great as coconut oil might seem when it comes to treating an ear infection in your dog, it might be not able to cure the ear infection in your dog.
There are a couple of bacteria and fungi that can cause an ear infection in your dog.
Your vet will need to be able to accurately diagnose the root cause to prescribe the right kind of medication.
There are times when the ear infection could even be caused by a polyp or tumor which needs to be surgically removed.
Another thing that you can’t do at home is to properly examine your dog’s ear drum.
Some ear infections can cause damage to your dog’s ear drum. And it is important that the vet is able to do something about this so that your dog won’t suffer from any hearing loss.
Your dog’s ears are a very sensitive and important body part. Given how acute your dog’s sense of hearing is, you don’t want to start putting stuff in there to make things worse.
I’m not saying that coconut oil doesn’t work for dog ear infections, I myself use it as an ointment for my dog’s skin irritation and for minor cuts and scrapes.
But dripping coconut oil or any oil for that matter should not be attempted unless you get the go-ahead from the vet. It isn’t as easy to wash away something like oil from your dog’s ear.
Nora is a passionate writer with a love for books, animals, and gardening.
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