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11 Ways to Treat & Prevent Ear Infections in Labs

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on June 1, 2023

For Labrador Retriever owners, ensuring the health and happiness of their loyal companions is a primary concern. Labs are prone to certain health issues, including ear infections due to their floppy ears that can trap moisture and debris. This article provides you with 11 strategies to treat and prevent ear infections in Labs and highlights the importance of Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet.

iHeartDogs is reader supported. Some of the links below may be paid affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on a product at no additional cost to you. 

1. Regular Ear Cleaning

Begin with maintaining a routine of regular ear cleaning. Given the Labs’ ear structure, they are prone to build up wax and debris, which can lead to infection. Clean their ears weekly with a vet-approved ear cleaner, making sure to be gentle and avoid poking anything into the ear canal.

Our favorite ear cleaner is these PetMD brand ear wipes on Amazon. 

2. Keeping Ears Dry

Labs love water, but any residual moisture in their ears can create an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast. Ensure you thoroughly dry your Lab’s ears after swimming or bathing.

3. Frequent Vet Check-ups

Regular visits to the vet are essential for early detection and prevention of ear infections. The vet can conduct professional ear cleaning and provide advice on prevention strategies tailored to your Lab.

4. Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is key to maintaining your Lab’s overall health, including their ears. It helps boost their immune system, making them better equipped to fight off bacteria and yeast that can cause ear infections. Omega-3 fatty acids play a significant role in maintaining healthy ears.

5. Omega-3 Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. Incorporating these into your Lab’s diet can help tackle allergies that often lead to ear infections. They also help reduce itching and boost the immune response.

We’re fans of this Norwegian salmon oil on Amazon. It’s a bright orangish-pink color and has no fishy smell at all due to it’s ultra high purity.

6. Allergy Awareness

Keep a close eye on any allergies your Lab may have. Excessive scratching or head shaking after exposure to certain environments or foods might signal an allergy. Identifying and addressing these allergens can significantly reduce the risk of ear infections.

A few good supplements to help your dog’s allergies are apple cider vinegar, quercetin, and colostrum, all of which are found in many natural allergy supplements like this one. 

7. Topical Treatments

For minor ear infections, topical treatments containing hydrocortisone can provide relief by reducing inflammation and itching. However, always consult with your vet before starting any new medications.

8. Oral Antibiotics

In severe cases, your vet may prescribe oral antibiotics. Make sure to complete the full course to entirely eliminate the infection, even if symptoms seem to have improved.

9. Surgery

In cases of recurrent or severe infections, surgical intervention may be required. Procedures like a Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) can provide a permanent solution.

10. Regular Exercise

Exercise helps maintain a robust immune system, essential for preventing infections. A well-exercised Lab has good blood circulation, which benefits the ear environment.

11. Preventive Medications

Your vet might recommend certain medications to prevent ear infections, especially if your Lab has a history of recurring infections.

To provide further clarity, here are some frequently asked questions about Labs and ear infections.


1. What are the symptoms of ear infections in Labs? Symptoms include frequent head shaking, scratching, redness, swelling, and sometimes, a foul smell or discharge from the ear.

2. Can Labs suffer from chronic ear infections? Yes, if left untreated or if the underlying cause isn’t addressed, ear infections can become chronic in Labs.

3. Are certain Labs more prone to ear infections? Yes, Labs with allergies or those who frequently swim or get their ears wet might be more susceptible.

4. How often should I clean my Lab’s ears? Aim to clean your Lab’s ears once a week. However, you might need to clean them more frequently if your Lab swims often or has a history of ear infections.

5. What should I avoid when cleaning my Lab’s ears? Avoid using cotton swabs, which can push debris further into the ear canal. Also, refrain from using alcohol or vinegar, as they can irritate the ear.

6. Can diet help prevent ear infections in Labs? Yes, a balanced diet, particularly one rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, can boost your Lab’s immune system, reducing the risk of ear infections.

7. How are allergies linked to ear infections? Allergies can cause inflammation and excessive wax production in the ear, creating a conducive environment for infections.

8. Can Omega-3 supplements cure ear infections? While Omega-3 supplements can aid in preventing and recovering from ear infections, they should not replace treatments prescribed by your vet for existing infections.

9. When should I consult a vet if I suspect an ear infection? You should consult your vet immediately if you suspect an ear infection. Early treatment is key to prevent complications.

10. Is surgery common for ear infections in Labs? Surgery is usually the last resort, reserved for severe or recurrent infections that do not respond to other treatments.

In conclusion, taking care of a Lab’s ears requires regular attention and care. Including Omega-3 in their diet, regular vet visits, and keeping their ears clean and dry are fundamental steps towards preventing ear infections. Remember, a healthy Lab is a happy Lab!

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