How I beat our dog’s itchy ear yeast infections.

Kathy LaFollett
6 min readFeb 10, 2022

Meet Dante DuBois. Our two-year-old blue nose staffy with a bit of bulldog for good measure.

Dante DuBois LaFollett, the Beastie that WAS Yeasty.

He’s a rescue dog. He’s also a hot mess with chronic ear infections, a necessary and successful FHO surgery, skin allergies, and yeast. So much yeast. I love this dog so much it hurts. And it hurt to watch him suffer. Which lead to sad feelings and frustrations for both of us. He and I have been dealing with his ears, skin, and yeast since our first hello. We started the battle after his FHO.

The battle commenced at our vet’s office. Four specific visits for ear cleaning, testing, and examination ending in three different ear drop prescriptions, and bottles of their private label ear wash. A fifth visit had to do with a knee problem. While Dante was unconscious during x-rays, they cleaned his ears. The fourth and fifth visits ended with the same prognosis. We’d just have to get used to it. He’s a blue nose pitty and they all have this problem. Ugh-huh.

Telling me to get used to something I don’t like and feel I can change, is a triple dog dare to not get used to anything. Which, I did. Beating yeast and ear infections that we just have to get used to wasn’t complicated. It was time consuming. Very time consuming. Awareness. Patience. And a dogged determination. This situation can get better. Every dog is different. Every dog lives a different lifestyle. There are environmentals you and your dog face, that we don’t. But as a strong foundation I’m certain this is the path to take to your success against ear infections and yeast problems. We who love our blues know it’s a thing. But it isn’t a thing we should get used to, that’s not fair to our dogs.

6 actions to beat the yeast problems in your dog.

  1. Visit your vet. You need a full exam to rule out inner ear, and any other related illness. Personally, had I found the information I did after visit one, I wouldn’t have done those other three. I would have moved on immediately. Had I approached it from the point of yeast production right off the bat, it would have been a revelation and a revolution. The information that sparked the success was a white paper written by a veterinarian about yeast and dogs. It all clicked. Right then. Her first sentence, “Yeast needs sugar to grow.”
  2. Methodical must kick in. I took Dante down to ground zero in food and environment. I banned all sugars forcing a change in food. No high yield grain crops. Corn or wheat. Read those labels. No sugars. I chose Solid Gold Holistic Dog Food, their Leaping Waters. Salmon delivering omegas with probiotics. That change alone yielded impressive results. Revealing Dante truths within one week.
  3. Probiotics. Read the label. Some use yeasts. That’s not going to work. Additionally, if your dog is eating sugary grain foods or treats, the probiotics are fighting an uphill battle they can’t win. You are wasting your money. First things first, limited ingredient dog food. After one week I added Makondo 5B Probiotics for Dogs. It’s a powder. It delivers. Another benchmark of improvements appeared for Dante. Super healthy poop. No dog farts. Even less itching and yeast production.
  4. Remove all the extras. I removed Dante’s dog treats, joint supplement, parrot foods fallen on the floor (dogs are Roombas, we know this). I added back my homemade Joint Jelly. At baseline with probiotics, food, and Mom’s Joint Jelly, his yeast problems disappeared. His left ear was still a problem. We hadn’t beat and healed the infection. That infection was stubborn, old, and not leaving. I, myself, am stubborn, old, and not leaving the battlefield.
  5. Switch to the cotton ball ear cleaning method. Rather than simply squirting ear cleaner into his ear. Which he hated. And I never felt was getting the job done. It made no sense to me just squirting an uncontrolled amount of wash into his ear canal and then watching him shake his head like a mad rabid dog. The cotton ball method is a controlled amount of wash. You know exactly what you are and are not getting done. Load up an extra-large cotton ball with your ear cleaner, hold it in your hand a moment to warm the liquid, and then gently slide it down to the opening of your dog’s ear canal and squeeze slowly while turning (right and left turns) the cotton ball itself. The cleaner gets into the ear canal, the cotton ball is comforting and cleans the immediate area. DO NOT PUSH THE COTTON BALL INTO THE EAR CANAL. It’s not necessary. Let it release solution into the canal while you squeeze it out. Always use a cotton ball larger than your dog’s ear canal. Pull out the cotton ball and take a look. What you see is where you’re at. Yes, your dog will shake his head, but not as aggressively because the process wasn’t the firehose of cold liquid smashing into his brain pan. Dante began volunteering rather than running away. I also use a drop of shampoo onto a square of gauze soaked warm in filtered water. I work up a slight lather, rinse it slightly, squeeze it out, then use it to clean the interior of his ears. Gently without trying to go anywhere into the canal. His ear infection being cleared revealed that the yeast was no longer a problem. His poor ear flaps were dry and itchy though.
  6. Add DAVIS 1% Hydrocortisone Cream to your artillery. After months of scratching, your dog’s ears and neck are sending signals. Help the dry skin heal fast. Use as directed. Four days later his ears are beautiful, healthy, and not itchy. I reserve DAVIS 1% HC for itchy anywhere moments now.

A few months into success he’s happy, playful, pain free, and has zero yeast. No gas. Superb poop. Now it’s onto the other side of things. It’s hard to know the difference between allergies and yeast when fighting the yeast. It becomes clear what’s itchy after that win. I added antihistamines to our efforts. 1 mg per pound. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I feed meals three times a day as it’s healthier for digestion and blood sugar levels. Smaller meals, more often, is better for us and them.

Dante is allergic to dog food with grains and his joint supplement (The first four ingredients of which are brewers dried yeast, dextrose, lecithin, and microcrystalline cellulose. That last one, is refined wood pulp. For texture. So; yeast, sugar, an emulsifier, and wood pulp. Many vitamin companies rely on those last two ingredients. The FDA says it’s just fine. I decided for us, it’s a hard pass). Dante is allergic to fresh cut grass, and any detergent that isn’t free and clear of chemicals. It took a few months to put back in and remove back out to see reactions. This isn’t hard. It is slow and painstaking. Dante’s antihistamine is now down to maintenance levels of morning and night. He’s an itchy boy with anything less.

4 additional steps to take to beat your dog’s itchy yeast:

  1. Get your dog off tap water. Use filtered water, from a pitcher filter or through your fridge. Forget bottled water. It’s no good for anyone long term. Water held in bottles over time and heat cycles is just as questionable as tap water. Important for emergencies, yes. But not a good idea long term use.
  2. Get your ear washing upgraded. Use the cotton ball method. Know how much wash is going in and know what’s coming out.
  3. Read labels. Everything you use for your dog. Look up ingredients you don’t understand. Then decide where you sit with those new facts.
  4. Target the cause, not the symptoms. Use the symptoms to reveal the cause. If you treat the symptoms first, you hide the cause.

In our own healthcare, and theirs, we tend to apply symptom care rather than the solution care. We just want it to stop (the symptoms). Ear drops, supplements, probiotics, ear washes, and shampoos are fighting an uphill battle if we don’t start with the cause. And we can’t tease out the cause(s) until we take our dogs to baseline. Then we can add and take away as we see their reactions.

You are the frontline to their health. Nobody knows your companion animals better than you. Nobody is going to care more than you. Take ownership, doggedly.