I'm not sure what the weather and climate are like where you live, but in my part of the world, we get an exceedingly high pollen count in the spring and fall. The consequence of that is allergies all around for both humans and animals alike. Even as I blog, I am suffering with raging ear infections, and my roomie is having trouble with her ears, too. I have had intermittent but chronic ear infections for, I'd say, about a decade now, and it used to be about the only reason that I ever went to the doctor--to get antibiotics and drops. One time, when I was using the drops, I was thinking about how much they smelled like vinegar. And sure enough, one of the main ingredients listed was acetic acid, or vinegar. I discussed this with my doctor, and also with my officemate at work's husband who is a doctor, and they both recommended trying a mixture of rubbing alcohol and plain white vinegar when my ears first start getting itchy and watery. Well, mercy me, it was like a miracle potion! I think the alcohol dries out the ear and kills the bad stuff in there, while the acidic vinegar changes the PH and discourages the growth of those pesty yeasties and bacteria. This is a very common home remedy for swimmers who suffer from "swimmer's ear," too. In any case, it has been a godsend to me when my ears start bothering me. So in case anyone else suffers from the same problem, here's what you do. First, buy yourself a little squeeze bottle. I like the kind used for putting color on your hair, like you can readily find at a beauty supply store. Mix a 50-50 solution of rubbing alcohol and white vinegar and shake well. Fill the affected ear canal with the solution, and lay over on your side for ten minutes before letting the solution drain out into a tissue or cotton ball. Do this morning and night for a few days when your ears are really bad, then decrease to once a day until your ears feel all better. If your sinuses also seem to be involved and exacerbating the problem, use something like Sudafed to loosen up the stuffiness and decrease the pressure. But trust me, the magical alcohol and vinegar potion will do the trick! Start using it as soon as you feel the itchy tingle or wateriness in your ear. Don't wait until it becomes painful!
Next, I also have a wonder solution for Fido's ear problems. I have different breeds of dogs, including a cocker spaniel, a basset hound, and two pbgv's, but they have some similarities. Structurally, I seem to like them long and low and medium-sized. And I also seem to enjoy long ears, but long ears require special care to keep clean and free of extraneous hair. And even with regular attention, my dogs will sometimes get ear infections. And the best stuff that I have found to clear up these infections is a recipe well-known to dog breeders and those in the dog show community, commonly referred to as "the blue stuff," though I think it's purple myself. Whatever you call it, it works wonders when your dog has an ear infection. I also use some on a cotton ball for regular ear cleaning about once a month as a part of their general grooming. And I've been known to use it on hot spots and also on any part of them where they may get irritated and chew themselves, such as with a yeasty skin infection. Of course, it does turn those areas purple for a few days, but it eventually wears (or washes) off. In any case, it is very handy stuff to have around when you have dogs to care for. Here is the recipe and the instructions (from the PBGV Club of America's website).
Blue Power Ear Treatment
(Passed on by Pat Etchells, a cocker breeder, who recommends warming up the solution before putting it in the ear by placing it in a cup of very warm water for about a half hour or so.)
16 oz. Isopropyl Alcohol
4 Tablespoons Boric Acid Powder
16 Drops Gentian Violet Solution 1%
Mix together in alcohol bottle and shake well. You will also need to shake solution every time you use it to disperse the boric acid powder. To use, purchase the "Clairol" type plastic bottle to dispense solution to affected ears. (Gina's Note: I myself only use the squeeze bottle and make a quarter batch at a time, and this lasts me several months!)
TREATMENT: Evaluate condition of ears before treating and if very inflamed and sore, do not attempt to pull hair or clean out ear at all. Wait until inflammation has subsided which will be about two days.
Shake the bottle each time before using. Flood the ear with solution (gently squirt bottle), massage gently to the count of 60, and wipe with a tissue or cotton ball. Flood again on first treatment, wipe with a tissue, and leave alone without massage. The dog will shake out the excess which can be wiped with a tissue, but be careful where you choose to give the treatment, as the Gentian Violet does stain fabrics (and fingers)!
SCHEDULE OF TREATMENT Treat 2x per day for the first week to two weeks depending upon severity of ears. Treat 1x per day for the next 1-2 weeks. Treat 1x per month (or even less frequently, depending on the dog).
All of these ingredients should be available at a pharmacy (or they can special-order them for you). The boric acid powder soothes the ear. The gentian violet solution is an anti-infection agent. The solution appears to work well on any and all ear problems from mites to wax to canker. After the second or third treatment, you can clean out the ear with a tissue or cotton ball. The success rate for this treatment is 95-99%. Those who do not succeed have usually not done the treatment long enough or have not been regular about it.
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 an infection seems to be remaining in the treated ear after the above course of treatment, you may also have some pseudomonas bacteria in the site. This can be eradicated by using a gentle flush of raw apple cider vinegar and water (warm). Use two tablespoons of vinegar to one cup of water, 2x per week.
People have also found the Blue Power Solution to be effective for treating fungus-type infections on the feet and elsewhere on the dog, for cuts on dogs or people, and for hot spots. You may find other uses for this simple anti-infective agent. Remember it is for external use only and be careful not to get into the eyes.