How Effective are Probiotics For Dogs Ear Infection
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How Effective are Probiotics For Dogs Ear Infection?

Katelyn Son

By

Medically reviewed by

Ivana Crnec, DVM

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Ear infections in dogs are a common and painful ordeal, can greatly reduce the dog’s quality of life, and are usually recurring. In this article, we will talk about dog probiotics as an alternative treatment option for ear infections. 
Canine probiotics are of particular interest as they can help with various ear infection aspects – strengthen the immune system, relieve the itchiness, and combat the traditional treatment’s side effects.  
Keep reading as we will explain everything you need to know about probiotics and ear problems in dogs. 

Can Probiotics Help Dog Ear Infections?

causes of dog ear infections
Yes, probiotics can help dogs with ear infections. When used adequately, under the vet’s careful monitoring and following the manufacturer’s guidelines, probiotics make an excellent addition to the ear infection treatment plan. 
Interestingly, a 2020 study found that the “cerumen microbial community shifts between healthy and otitis affected dogs.” This finding accents the importance of good bacteria in managing canine ear infections. 

Benefits of Probiotics for Ear Infections in Dogs

Probiotics provide direct competition for disease-causing bacteria and are shown to play a role in the immune response of dogs enabling them to fight infections. Plus, probiotics release anti-inflammatory substances like short-chain fatty acids, which reduce inflammation can help speed up the infection healing. 
In other words, probiotics can benefit dogs with ear infections on various levels:
  • Boosting the immune system and preventing chronic ear infections 
  • Relieving the main ear infection symptom (skin itchiness
  • Recolonizing the dog’s gut with good bacteria after the antibiotic treatment

Best Seller
Honest Paws Pre+ Probiotics
10/10Our Score
  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Helps maintain proper gut flora
  • Strengthens immune system and encourages longevity

Side Effects of Probiotics for Dog Ear Infections

Like any other supplement, probiotics can cause side effects in overly sensitive dogs. Luckily, the side effects are rare and mild and usually include GI-related issues like diarrhea, loose stool, constipation, gassiness, or bloating.
You can decrease the risk of side effects by practicing slow probiotic introduction – start with a smaller probiotic dose and gradually increase the number of beneficial bacteria, allowing your dog’s gut to get used to the new supplement. 

Causes of Dog Ear Infections

treatment options for dog ear infections
Ear infections in dogs can be caused by bacteria, yeast overgrowth, parasites, or any other disease-causing microorganisms. Here are the most frequently reported culprits:
  • Bacterial infections. This is one of the leading causes of ear infections in dogs. When bacteria make their way into the ear canal and find suitable conditions to survive and multiply, a bacterial infection is born. 
  • Yeast infections or fungal infections. Similar to bacteria, if yeast and/or fungi multiply in the ear, it results in an ear infection. The dark, warm, and moist conditions inside the ear are perfect for fungi and yeast growth.  
  • Foreign objects. If something that doesn’t belong in the ear gets lodged in the ear canal, it may cause an infection. Small substances like pollen and pillow fluff can quickly enter your dog’s ear, cause itching and eventually trigger an infection. 
  • Allergies. If your dog suffers from an allergy, you are looking at the ear infection trigger. Almost all dogs with allergies have one thing in common – they scratch their ears excessively. This is because ear infection is one of the leading allergy symptoms. 
  • Tumors. Tumors, whether cancerous or not, can increase the risk of ear infections, primarily if they are found within or close to the ear. 
  • Parasites. Fleas and ear mites can cause severe ear infections, especially if treatment is delayed. These pesky little parasitic bugs make the dog’s ears extra itchy and prone to secondary bacterial infections.
  • Wounds and bruises. Wounds are the ideal breeding ground for bacteria. If a dog gets a wound in or close to the ear and it is not treated immediately, it is very likely to develop an ear infection.

Breeds at Risk for Suffering Ear Infections

Certain dog breeds are more likely to develop infected ears than others. As you might have guessed, we are talking about breeds with large and floppy ears, such as: 
  • Cocker Spaniels 
  • Springer Spaniels
  • Bulldogs 
  • Beagles 
  • Golden Retrievers 
  • Labrador Retrievers 
  • Chow-chows
  • Basset Hounds 
  • Bloodhounds
The explanation behind this statistic is simple – large and floppy ears provide a conducive environment with warmth and moisture for the growth and multiplication of microorganisms.

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections 

The exact clinical manifestation can depend on the affected part of the ear. In these terms, there are three different ear infection categories: 
  • Otitis externa – when the infection affects the outer ear, or better said the ear flap 
  • Otitis media – when the infection affects the middle ear (Eustachian tube and middle ear bones)
  • Otitis interna – when the infection affects the inner ear and potentially damages the eardrum. 
Generally speaking, this is what you can expect in a dog with infected ears:
  • Ear itching and scratching. You will notice your dog scratching its ears vigorously several times throughout the day. 
  • Head shaking. The dog will constantly shake its head as if trying to shake something off. It is usually followed by aggressive ear scratching. 
  • Ear discharge. As the infection worsens, the ear releases a yellowish discharge (usually pus produced by the body as a response to the infection). 
  • Foul odor from the ear. There may be a bad smell coming from your dog’s ear due to the discharges and extra wax buildup in the ear canal. 
  • Fever. Fever is the classic sign of infection – it is the body’s normal immune response and an attempt to fight off the pathogen. 
  • Head tilting. Your dog may start to tilt its head towards the side on which the infected ear is. It is also likely to hold the affected ear lower than the healthy one. 
  • Loss of balance. Ears play a major role in maintaining the balance of the body. In the case of a severe infection, your dog may lose balance. 
  • Constant whining. Just like in any other health condition, your dog will start to feel unbearable amounts of pain, especially if she is not being treated. 
  • Hearing loss. If untreated, the ear infection may cause the dog to lose its sense of hearing. You may notice that your dog does not promptly respond to commands.

How Long does it Take for Probiotics to Work for Dog Ear Infections?

benefits of probiotics for dogs with chronic ear infections
Probiotics start colonizing the dog’s gut as soon as they reach the intestines. However, do not expect miracles – it usually takes between a couple of days and several weeks to see visible improvement in your dog’s condition. Stay patients and supplement your pup continuously. 

Using Probiotics for Your Dog’s Ear Infections Treatment

When it comes to ear infections, you should see the vet as soon as possible. The vet will use an otoscope to check the dog’s ears and a microscope to examine the ear wax. Based on the findings, the veterinarian will recommend the right treatment strategy. 
Antibiotic treatment. The treatment of choice is antibiotics. They are great for ear infections and infections in general, but they do not come without side effects. For example, antibiotics cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria.  
Home Remedies. You can do so much for your dog to make the treatment process smoother and more comfortable. For example, you can: 
  • Give your dog a healthy diet. A good quality diet is essential in boosting the immune system and supporting gut health, vital for fighting infections. 
  • Use immune-boosting supplements.  Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s menu is a great way to strengthen its immune response and support skin health. 
  • Clean your dog’s ears. Dirt is one of the leading causes of infection. Clean your dog’s ears regularly prevents debris from building up. 
  • Make some lifestyle changes. Good habits are essential for optimal health. Ensure your dog is physically active, well-hydrated, and gets adequate sleep.

How to Choose the Best Probiotic for Dog Ear Infections

Finding the best probiotic for ear infections can be tricky, especially if you do not know what to look for. To make sure you get the best probiotic for your dog, follow this short checklist.
Various Bacteria Strains. Ideally, the probiotic supplement should contain three to four strains of good bacteria like Bifidobacterium animalis, Enterococcus faecium, Bacillus coagulans, and Lactobacillus acidophilus. This is because different bacteria ensure different health benefits. 
Colony Forming Units (CFU). This is a measurement for the number of good bacteria found in the probiotic. In general, for maintenance purposes, the average dog needs between 1 and 4 billion CFUs per day. 
Prebiotics and other ingredients. To thrive and exert their benefits, probiotics need prebiotics (dietary fiber). Therefore, most brands add prebiotics to their formulas. They also include synergistic compounds like digestive enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. 
GMO, Allergen, and Filler-Free. Choose a probiotic product free of common allergens (dairy, soy, single proteins), cheap fillers (grains, corn, wheat), and GMO nutrients. These ingredients support inflammation and can worsen your dog’s ear problems. 
Probiotic Form and Flavor. Probiotics supplements for pets are available in various forms – powders, capsules, treats, liquids. They also come in dog-friendly flavors like chicken or beef. Purchase the probiotic form and flavor that are convenient for you and tasty for your pet. 
Reputable and Trustworthy Brand. Always review the probiotic brand. A reliable brand will be transparent and display reviews from other customers using the probiotic product. It can also offer practical services like money-back guarantees and free shipping. 
Once you have the best probiotic for dog ear infections at home, you can use it in combination with natural probiotics like Greek yogurt or old-fashioned kefir. 

What is the Best Probiotic for Dog Ear Infections?

The Honest Paws Pre + Probiotic is the best probiotic for dogs with ear infections. This supplement is made of high-quality ingredients and fits all of the criteria mentioned above. 
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients included in the pre+probiotic supplement: 
  • Inulin – derived from chicory root, to transforms into short-chain fatty acids that nourish cells, help with digestion health, and have various other health benefits. 
  • Solarplast® – spinach leaf extract that optimizes the body’s processes through cellular restoration and repair and supports healthy aging.  
  • DE111® – DE111® is a Bacillus subtilis strain that promotes digestive and immune health and helps maintain healthy gut flora.
  • Bacillus coagulans – helps support proper digestion and bowel health and protects the intestinal lining from infections and inflammations. 
  • Bifidobacterium animalis lactis – has strong anti-inflammatory properties and helps dogs recover from prolonged uses of antibiotics and other medications. 
  • Bifidobacterium longum – helps maintain a healthy GI tract and keeps the gut microbiome in balance. 
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus – soothes the GI tract, increases the absorption of nutrients, and relieves skin issues and irritations. 
  • Lactobacillus plantarum – improves the function of the gastrointestinal system. supports liver health, and manages various forms of diarrhea
Last but not least, the Honest Paws supplement is chicken-flavored and comes in pre-measured individual packs of 5 billion CFUs per sachet. 
Best Seller
Honest Paws Pre+ Probiotics
10/10Our Score
  • Supports healthy digestion
  • Helps maintain proper gut flora
  • Strengthens immune system and encourages longevity

Our Final Thoughts on Probiotics for Dogs Ear Infections

complications of ear infections
Lifestyle choices like a high-quality diet and adequate exercise can significantly improve your dog’s odds against developing possible ear problems.  
Probiotics are another effective way of reducing your dog’s risk for ear infections. If your dog is already infected, probiotics can also provide relief during and after the mainstream treatment. 
The key to success in probiotic therapy is choosing a high-quality product and starting to supplement your pet as soon as possible.