Treating Your Cat's or Dog's Ear Infection

Treating Your Cat's or Dog's Ear Infection
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vet verified PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian DVM

If your pet has been diagnosed with an ear infection, you'll need to start treatment. Learn which kinds of treatment are appropriate for your pet's ear infection here.

Once the veterinarian has diagnosed your cat or dog with an ear infection, there are a few approaches to treatment from which to choose. Depending on the cause of the infection, treatment can be as simple as a good ear flush or cleaning, or may include steroids and antibiotics. If the cause of the infection stems from tumors or cancer, surgery may be necessary.

Steroids and Antibiotics

A common treatment cat or dog ear infections medicine is a combination of topical or systemic corticosteroids and topical or oral antibiotics. The corticosteroids work to reduce swelling in the afflicted area, relieving pain and possibly reducing hearing loss due to inflammation blockage. The antibiotics, like mometamax or Tresaderm, are used to fight the bacterial growth in the infection. Some common topical antibiotics prescribed for ear infections are Mometamax, Otomax ointment, and Tresaderm, while commonly prescribed oral antibiotics include Amoxicillin, Clindamycin, and Baytril Otic drops.


If the veterinarian determines the cause of the ear infection is fungus or yeast, a fungicide medication may be prescribed. Itraconazole and Ketoconazole are commonly prescribed fungicides, and are very effective at clearing up excessive fungus or yeast.

Treatment of Parasites

Ear mites, fleas, and ticks can be eradicated by thoroughly cleaning the ear and using an oral or topical anti-parasitic medication, such as Revolution. It may be necessary to use in addition to antibiotics, if a secondary infection is bacterial.

Homeopathic and Allergy Treatment

If the ear infection is caused by allergic reactions to environmental particles, some veterinarians may choose an holistic approach. Increasing the amount of Omega-3 fatty acids your dog or cat ingests may reduce the inflammation response. Products such as Yucca Intensive are believed to reduce inflammation response and allergic reaction, reducing the likelihood of scratching that may lead to infection. Steroids also reduce the inflammation response to allergies.

Surgical Treatment

Sometimes, surgery is necessary when the veterinarian has diagnosed the dog or cat with a tumor on the earflap or in the canal. While the surgery does not directly treat the infection, removing the tumor can reduce the blockage and irritation. Even if the tumor is benign, if it is causing chronic infection or hearing loss, the veterinarian may recommend surgical removal. Steroids and antibiotics are often prescribed pre-and post-surgery to prevent further damage.

Treating Your Cat or Dog's Ear Mites

It is important that your dog or cat sees a veterinarian if you suspect an ear mite infestation, so that the best decision can be made about treatment. Do not try to treat your animal without the advice or supervision of a veterinarian because the ear canals are very sensitive and lead to the ear drum, which is easily damaged.

Ear drops are commonly prescribed for ear mite infestations. Depending on the drops, they may contain an insecticide to kill the mites, and end their life cycle, preventing eggs from hatching and causing the infestation to reappear. If the ear mites have caused an ear infection, the ear drops may also be antibiotics or steroids intended to fight the bacteria and reduce swelling. R-7M is an ear mite treatment drop that is effective for cats and dogs, and uses Pyrethrin insecticide to rid the ear canals of the infestation.

Topical medications are usually spot-on topical insecticides intended for monthly application to prevent future ear mite infestations. Products such as Advantage MULTI for CATS and Revolution work to eliminate ear mites by causing paralysis and death to the parasite.

Ivermectin is a medication for the control of an ear mite infestation, but it differs from most because it can be administered either orally or by injection. The benefit is less messy than topical medications and single dosage, whereas drops usually require multiple dosage.

Ear cleansers, such as Epi Otic, are recommended because they can gently be used to remove debris from the canal, clearing blockage and possibly returning hearing abilities to normal. Cleansers are also useful in the prevention of future infestations. If the ears are cleaned regularly, the mites fail to reproduce. Keeping the ear canals free of debris, may also protect the ear drum from damage and infection from thriving. It is important to follow the cleansing directions to the exact specifications and never insert a Q-tip into the canal, even if you believe you can remove obstruction. Insertion can easily result in serious damage to the eardrum, and can force debris further into the canal, causing the ear to become inflamed and infected.

Homeopathic Treatment can be effective as long as you consult with your veterinarian. Some vets may recommend gently flushing the ear out with a mixture of distilled water and apple cider vinegar. Mineral oil or almond oil may be gently massaged into the outer ear flaps. The ear mites move into the oil, and become smothered by it.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I treat my cat's ear infection at home?

Ear miticides, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, yellow dock root, and coconut oil are all remedies that have been suggested for treating cat ear infections. However, it is important to note that these remedies may not be appropriate or effective for all types of ear infections, and some may even be harmful if used incorrectly. Ear miticides are prescription medications that are specifically designed to treat ear mites, a common cause of ear infections in cats. If your cat has an ear mite infection, your veterinarian will likely recommend a specific ear miticide product that is safe and effective for your cat. Olive oil and coconut oil are sometimes suggested as natural remedies for ear infections in cats. While they may help soften earwax and debris, they are unlikely to be effective in treating an infection. In some cases, using oils in the ear can even make the infection worse by trapping bacteria or yeast in the ear canal. Apple cider vinegar and yellow dock root are also sometimes recommended as natural remedies for ear infections in cats. However, there is limited scientific evidence to support their use in treating ear infections, and they may not be safe or effective for all cats. If you are considering using these remedies, it is important to discuss them with your veterinarian first to ensure they are safe and appropriate for your cat.

Can I treat my dog's ear infection myself?

It is generally not recommended to treat your dog's ear infection yourself, as a proper diagnosis and treatment plan from a veterinarian is necessary to ensure the infection is effectively treated and does not lead to complications. Ear infections in dogs can have various causes, including bacteria, yeast, or parasites, and the appropriate treatment will depend on the underlying cause. Additionally, the ear canal is a sensitive and delicate area, and attempting to clean or treat your dog's ears at home without proper knowledge and training can cause further discomfort or even injury. If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, it is important to take them to a veterinarian for an examination and proper diagnosis. Your veterinarian may need to perform tests to determine the underlying cause of the infection and prescribe an appropriate treatment, which may include medications, ear cleaning, or other supportive care.

Can you put hydrogen peroxide in a cat's ear?

It is generally not recommended to put hydrogen peroxide in a cat's ear without first consulting with a veterinarian. While hydrogen peroxide is commonly used as a cleaning agent, it can be harmful to the delicate ear tissue if used improperly. Cats have a very sensitive ear canal, and using hydrogen peroxide in their ears can cause irritation, pain, or damage to the ear canal. Additionally, using hydrogen peroxide can also cause harm if there is an underlying ear infection or other ear condition, as it can potentially worsen the infection or cause other complications.

Will cat ear infection go away on its own?

In most cases, a cat ear infection will not go away on its own and requires proper diagnosis and treatment from a veterinarian. Ear infections in cats can be caused by bacteria, yeast, mites, or other underlying conditions and can cause significant discomfort or pain if left untreated. While some mild ear infections may appear to resolve on their own, without proper treatment, the infection may return or progress to a more severe or chronic condition. If you suspect that your cat has an ear infection, it is important to take them to a veterinarian for an examination and proper diagnosis. Your veterinarian can perform tests to determine the underlying cause of the infection and prescribe an appropriate treatment plan, which may include medications, ear cleaning, or other supportive care.

Can I put Neosporin in my cat's ear?

No, you should not put Neosporin or any other human medication in your cat's ear without first consulting with a veterinarian. While Neosporin contains antibiotics that are effective against some types of bacteria, it is not recommended for use in cats due to the potential for toxicity and other complications. Cats are sensitive to many human medications, and some ingredients in Neosporin, such as neomycin and polymyxin B, can be harmful or even toxic to cats if used improperly. Additionally, Neosporin is not effective against all types of ear infections that may occur in cats, and using it without proper diagnosis and guidance from a veterinarian can potentially worsen the infection or cause other complications. While a small amount of triple antibiotic ointment containing Neosporin may be safe to use on a cat's skin behind the ears in certain situations, it is important to note that it should only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian.

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