Fungal infections in dogs are a leading cause of trips to the veterinarian, worry for owners and pain for dogs. The canine ear canal is quite long, and it can stay very damp due to fur and/or ear shape, creating a perfect environment for fungus to flourish. There are commercial ear washes available to help clean and dry the ears, but it's possible to make an effective ear wash at home for much less money.
Several readily available ingredients have anti-fungal properties and can be mixed easily into a wash. All are available at the grocery store, health-food store or the pharmacy. Tea tree oil, white vinegar, and gentian violet are safe and effective anti-fungals that can help destroy the fungus and restore the ear canal to a healthy state.
White Vinegar Ear Wash
A good ear wash that kills fungus and bacteria can be made with white vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, Betadine antiseptic solution and powdered boric acid. Betadine and boric acid can be purchased at a pharmacy, and everything else can come from the grocery store. Add 6 ounces of the isopropyl alcohol to a bottle, and add 1/2 teaspoon of boric acid powder. Shake until the powder is completely dissolved, and add 2 ounces of white vinegar. Shake again, and add 1 teaspoon of the Betadine. Again, shake until mixed; the mix will look a bit like iced tea. To use, simply pour some into the dog's ear and massage at the ear base to distribute the mix. Let your dog shake his head, and use a cotton ball or soft cloth to wipe the inside of the ear. Do not put anything down the ear canal itself; it's much too easy to injure your dog.
Gentian Violet Ear Wash
Gentian violet has been used for generations as a remedy for yeast infections; yeast is the most common problem-causing fungus for dogs. Mix 16 ounces of isopropyl alcohol, 4 tablespoons of boric acid powder, and 16 drops of a 1 percent gentian violet solution. Shake to mix thoroughly, and use as you would any other ear wash. Gentian violet is available at most pharmacies, but you may have to ask for it at the counter.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea tree oil makes a good ear treatment. After cleaning, add a few drops of tea tree oil mixed with a carrier oil such as olive oil. It's anti-fungal, antibacterial, and very soothing.