Can a "Magic Rinse" From the Internet Cure My Dog's Chronic Ear Infections?

Cocker Spaniel Ear Infection

Q. My Cocker Spaniel always seems to have an ear infection. I found a "magic rinse" on the Internet that had gentian violet in it. Will this cure her?

A. No. You're not going to get on top of chronic ear infections once and for all without the help of your veterinarian.

While the Internet can and does offer useful information for pet care, you have to be able to assess the source's credibility and, sometimes, its conflicts of interest. Many "home cure" sites are well-meaning but wrong, and others are trying to sell you what in the old days would be called "snake oil."

In both cases, beware! Your veterinarian and sites with top veterinarians and other experts on staff are always your best bets for reliable, current information. Even then, your own veterinarian is critical to success because he or she is the only person looking at your pet as an individual. Good medical care always starts with a correct diagnosis. That requires a veterinarian who can perform an in-person examination of your pet.

As for that "magic rinse"? These recipes typically contain high concentrations of alcohol, which dries out the ear excessively and can cause a painful stinging sensation in an ear with abrasions. But most seriously, gentian violet is known to be a carcinogen in lab animals, and it can cause dizziness and even deafness if it gets past the eardrum and into the middle or inner ear.

While gentian violet used to be used as an antifungal treatment in the era before World War II, we have better options for ear care these days. Keeping the ears dry, cleaning them only as needed and checking them regularly for signs of infection are better ways to keep your dog’s ears healthy.


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