I’ve recently been working on an article about herbal remedies for aging dogs – at the request of several readers and also because I too have a dog in his golden years. While writing, I realized that I haven’t shared a recipe yet for one of my go-to pet (and human) basics: garlic ear oil.
This oil can be used for humans, dogs, cats, horses, goats and other mammals. It can also be used to treat localized mite infestations on birds. (More details below.)
Raw garlic contains an abundance of compounds which:
- have strong antibacterial and antifungal action,
- are not tolerated by the mites that sometimes afflict pets.
I learned about these health benefits, and how to make and use garlic ear oil from the following books: Making Plant Medicine, by Richo Cech, and Herbs for Pets, by Gregory L. Tilford and Mary L. Wulff. They are among the most well loved and used books that I own; if you’re looking to build an herbal library, these are two excellent additions.
(Book links are affiliate links to Amazon. That means if you click on one and make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission for sending a customer their way. Check with your local bookstore or library for other buying/viewing options.)
One more thing before we start: This is a classic home remedy that can be quite effective for mild ear infections and discomfort. However, if symptoms worsen or you’re concerned in any way, check with a qualified health care professional or veterinarian for further advice.
Garlic Ear Oil (for humans & their pets)
- 3 or 4 fresh garlic cloves, crushed
- 3/4 cup (190 ml) olive oil
- 10 to 20 drops vitamin E oil, optional
Normally, it’s a good idea to infuse oils with dried herbs to help prevent spoilage, but in the case of garlic, you want it fresh and raw in order to preserve its potent antibacterial properties.
Leaving the skin on the garlic cloves, smash them with a rolling pin or other heavy object.
Place the crushed garlic cloves in an 8 ounce canning jar. Add the vitamin E then cover with olive oil, almost to the top. Vitamin E is added as an antioxidant that can help lengthen the shelf life of oils, but if you don’t have any on hand, it’s okay to leave it out.
Cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth, or other breathable fabric – a scrap of old t-shirt will work – and secure in place with a rubber band. Don’t use a regular air tight lid or condensation may build up. Condensation is the bad guy when it comes to infusing oils and often leads to mold and a ruined end product.
Let the garlic and oil sit in a sunny spot for three days. This is one oil you don’t want to speed up by using artificial heat or you risk destroying garlic’s antibiotic compounds.
At the end of three days, strain through several layers of cheesecloth and/or a fine mesh sieve.
Allow the oil to sit undisturbed overnight to allow particles of garlic and water to settle at the bottom of the jar. Carefully, pour the oil through another layer of dry cheesecloth, leaving any watery layer or sludge in the jar.
Store the finished oil in a cool dark place for 9 months to a year. Refrigeration may help lengthen shelf life, but be sure to warm the oil to body temperature before use.
Dosage and Use
Garlic oil can be used for humans, dogs, cats, goats, horses and other mammals, and on localized mite infestations on birds.
For ear infection, use one to two drops per ear, one to three times daily – there’s no need to flood the ear with oil. Make sure the oil is around body temperature before using. After application, gently massage the ear area for a short time, if it’s not painful to do so. You may also find it helpful to hold a warmed rice bag or hot water bottle over the ear.
For general maintenance, I lightly clean and inspect my dogs’ ears every few weeks. I use a bit of witch hazel on a cotton ball to clean under the ear flap and add a drop or two of garlic oil after it dries. They love having their ears massaged after this! This is also a good time to examine their ears and make sure everything looks healthy.
For my cat, I only use once every few months as a general preventative against ear mites. He’s a half-wild outdoor rescue kitty who doesn’t like to be held or coddled, so this works best for us. I’m very sparing with the herbal treatments I use on my cat in general, since they are such sensitive creatures.
It can also be applied, twice daily, to areas of the skin afflicted by mites.
*Important: Do not use if the eardrum is perforated. If in doubt, or if symptoms worsen, check with a qualified health care professional or veterinarian for further advice.
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