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Dog Chewing on Paws, Recurring Ear Infections in Dogs

Posted on: October 25th, 2011 by


Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page today.

The first question comes from Jerry, who says, “My dog has red, raw, and chewed-on paws. What do I do?”

This is probably likely due to allergies. This is a really common problem at this time of year. Dogs are, obviously, walking on their feet and they’re going through grass and pollens and dust, and things can get on the feet and cause some contact allergies. You’re probably going to need to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out things like bacterial or fungal infections which can be a problem on those really red and irritated paws. Oftentimes, antibiotics are needed.

Things you can do at home to try to help would be to rinse those feet after you walk or go outside. Rinse the feet using a soothing shampoo, maybe something with oatmeal, to soothe the skin. This can sometimes be helpful. Work with your veterinarian on a treatment plan, whether it involves antibiotics, antihistamines or other things for underlying allergies.

The next question comes from Kim, who asks, “Could yeast be causing multi-ear infections and is there a home remedy that I can use?”

Absolutely. Yeast is a really common fungus that can live in the ear canal and sometimes cause some problems. It’s normal to have small amounts of yeast in the ear canal, but when it overgrows it can really be a problem.

Sometimes allergies can be an underlying cause. Dogs with floppy ears that tend to trap more moisture and heat in the ears seem to be predisposed as well. If you have a concern that your dog has a fungal infection, it’s really important that you get the correct medicine. You need to see your veterinarian and get prescribed medication.

If this is a chronic problem and you’re in the in-between where you don’t have an active infection but you just want to keep it from flaring up, there are some things that you can do at home. The number one best thing is going to be to use some type of an ear cleaner. What an ear cleaner will do is actually act as an astringent so it’s going to dry that canal out and make it a less nice place for yeast and fungus to live. I’m going to recommend that you buy a cleaner that’s meant for dogs with fungal infections from your veterinarian.

If you want to do something at home, acetic acid works really nicely as an anti-fungal. That’s just vinegar. A recipe that you could try is equal parts water and vinegar with a capful of rubbing alcohol. It’s really important, though, that the ear isn’t inflamed or red because alcohol is going to sting. If you think that you have an infection do not use this; go to your veterinarian. But if you’re just in between and need a cleaner, that might work for you.
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