7 Common Dog Ear Problems You Should Be Aware Of

Understanding and Preventing Ear Problems in Dogs

Dogs use their ears for much more than just hearing. Their sense of hearing is crucial for navigation, safety, and social interaction. Unfortunately, ear problems are common in dogs, causing significant discomfort and sometimes leading to serious health issues.

Causes of Ear Infections

  • Allergies: Food or environmental allergies often manifest in the ears, causing inflammation and irritation.
  • Yeast and Bacteria: Overgrowth of yeast or bacteria within the ear canal can lead to itchy, smelly infections.
  • Ear Mites: Tiny parasites that live in the ear canal, causing intense itching and sometimes secondary infections.
  • Foreign Bodies: Grass seeds, dirt, or other foreign objects getting trapped inside the ear can lead to pain and inflammation.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Conditions like hypothyroidism can make dogs more susceptible to ear infections.

Common Ear Problems

  • Otitis Externa: Inflammation of the outer ear canal, often due to bacterial or yeast infections.
  • Ear Mites: Parasitic infestations causing itching, scratching, and a dark, crumbly discharge.
  • Tumors: Growths within the ear canal can cause a variety of symptoms.
  • Eczema: Inflammation of the skin, sometimes within the ear, caused by allergies or other irritants.
  • Inflammation of the Ear Cartilage: Usually a result of untreated ear infections or trauma.

Symptoms of Ear Problems

  • Frequent head shaking or tilting
  • Scratching at the ears
  • Redness or swelling
  • Discharge (yellow, brown, or bloody)
  • Foul odor
  • Pain when the ears are touched

Treating Ear Infections

It’s crucial to see a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment of ear infections. Treatment may involve:

  • Medication: Ear drops, oral antibiotics, or antifungals might be prescribed depending on the cause.
  • Cleaning: The vet may thoroughly clean the ear canal to remove debris and discharge.
  • Addressing Underlying Causes: Allergies or hormonal issues may need to be managed.
  • Surgery: In rare cases of severe infections or tumors.

Home Remedies (Use with Caution!)

While home remedies might provide temporary relief, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian first to ensure you’re not making the problem worse. Some options include:

  • Hydrogen peroxide: Diluted, but can be irritating.
  • Chlorhexidine: Disinfectant, but can dry out the skin.
  • Saline: Gentle cleaning solution.
  • Boric acid: Only with a vet’s recommendation, as it can be toxic to some dogs.

Preventing Ear Problems

  • Regular Cleaning: Use a vet-approved ear cleaning solution and cotton balls. Avoid cotton swabs which can push debris further into the ear.
  • Drying After Bathing: Ensure ears are thoroughly dried after swimming or baths.
  • Check for Foreign Objects: Inspect ears after walks, especially in long grass.
  • Manage Allergies: Work with your vet to identify and minimize allergy triggers.
  • Regular Vet Checkups: Catch problems early.

Key Takeaways:

  • Ear infections are common in dogs and can be caused by numerous factors.
  • Early detection and treatment are crucial in preventing complications and long-term discomfort.
  • Proper ear hygiene and proactive care can significantly reduce the risk of ear problems.
  • Never treat a suspected ear infection without consulting a veterinarian.

If your dog shows signs of ear trouble, a prompt visit to the vet is the best way to ensure a swift diagnosis and effective treatment plan.

What Causes Ear Infection in Dogs?

You need to understand that ear diseases in dogs occur more often than we would like. It is important to monitor the condition of your pet’s ears every day. Because, he can “pick up” the infection after every walk, consumption of some new product, or contact with other animals.

The manifestation of the disease can provoke stress, as well as insufficient care for the auricle. The most prone to “ear problems” are breeds with long-hanging ears.

Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections:

The most common cause of ear problems in dogs is a clogged ear canal. The thing is that their hearing organs are located very uncomfortably.

The vertical structure creates a lot of problems because all the debris and dust get into the auricle and cause all sorts of complications. In this case, four-legged friends are very difficult to tolerate various kinds of diseases that are associated with the ears.

The most common cause of ear problems in dogs is a clogged ear canal. There are a lot of types and symptoms of ear diseases in dogs, but here are some of them that owners may notice most often:

  • Inflammation caused by harmful bacteria;
  • Infections that appear due to yeast bacteria;
  • Damage to the ear canals by viruses;
  • Ear mite;
  • Complications after the use of medications;
  • Allergic reactions;
  • Problems with the thyroid gland;
  • Weakening of the immune system;
  • Problems with the endocrine system;
  • High concentration of earwax;
  • The presence of foreign objects in the ears;
  • The problem of improper care of the owners of their pets (the ears are cleaned so roughly that inflammatory processes occur inside);
  • External tissue damage;
  • Meningitis;
  • Encephalitis.
dog ear problems

7 Dog Ear Problems:

Dogs have a complex structure of the ear shell, as a result of which diseases of the hearing apparatus often occur in animals. Pets with long-hanging ears (bassets, beagles, spaniels) are more susceptible to diseases, but dogs with short and erect ears are often diagnosed with various inflammatory processes of the ear canal. So, see below the 7 dog ear problems.

1. Ear Mites:

Ear mite or ear scabies is a chronic disease caused by scabies mites, they parasitize on the skin of the ears (inner surface of the auricle, external auditory canal, and eardrum). A dog becomes infected after contact with a sick animal or with contaminated care items.


  • Severe itching (due to the fact that the dog constantly itches – sores appear on the ears and near them);
  • Redness;
  • Peeling;
  • Animals shake their heads;
  • Pus and other secretions appear (waste products of the tick) in dark brown deposits;
  • Hearing is reduced;
  • In advanced cases, scabs appear (both on the ears and all over the head).
  • It poses no danger to people.

2. Hormonal Disorders:

A slightly more “exotic” cause of ear problems in dogs is hormonal imbalances. Most often, owners of old animals face this problem. By themselves, problems with hormones do not harm the ears in any way, but they greatly weaken the immune system. And in this case, the ears get it the fastest, since a lot of microflora lives in the lumen of the ear passages.

If the immune system is normal, everything is in order, but when it weakens, microorganisms can contribute to the development of the inflammatory process.


Symptoms, in this case, are completely the same as with otitis media:

  • The dog scratches his ears, and subsequently sits in one place for a long time, keeping his head tilted.
  • The animal can vigorously shake its ears, causing splashes of exudate to scatter throughout the room.
  • In some cases, the condition of the dog deteriorates rapidly, causing him to become lethargic, refusing water and food.
  • Sometimes the pet constantly whines, and sometimes it literally squeals in pain.
  • The ears are red and swollen.

3. Yeast Infections:

In this case, the dog will try to get something out of the ear with its paw, shake its head, press it with its paw, comb it and attract attention.

If there is a suspicion that some foreign object has got into the ear canal, pour a special lotion inside, and then wrap your finger in a bandage and wipe your ear. The danger lies in the fact that along with a foreign object (especially with small sticks and blades of grass), bacteria can get into the ear. Therefore, if you do not immediately process everything, inflammation may begin, and there you can not do without antibiotics.


Allergens affect the entire body, and the most sensitive organs – ears and eyes – suffer first of all.

  • Signs:
  • Swelling;
  • Redness (may be specks);
  • Itching.

4. Tumors:

In dogs, it can be suspected by a change in the consistency of the tissue, it becomes loose. The disease may be accompanied by an unpleasant odor. The exact same result will show the analysis of cytology.

It is very important not to start treating the animal on your own, since only the doctor will determine the true cause of the ailment with the help of laboratory tests, and the owner can worsen the condition of the dog by his actions.


  • Redness;
  • Itching, pain when touched;
  • The head is tilted toward the affected ear;

5. Inhalant Allergies:

Otitis media – inflammation of the middle, outer or inner ear, it can be the result of another disease or a separate disease. The cause, as a rule, is the development of a bacterial or viral infection – infectious otitis media. In another case, it is caused by allergies – allergic otitis media.


In both cases, the symptoms are the same:

  • Redness;
  • The head is tilted toward the affected ear;
  • Itching, pain when touched;
  • Dog shakes head
  • Liquid discharge of gray or yellow color (if you see blood from the ear, you should immediately consult a doctor);
  • Does not respond well to commands, as he hears worse;
  • Bad smell;
  • Often fever.
  • Otitis in a dog

6. Eczema

This inflammation of the superficial layers of the skin can occur due to chemical, mechanical or thermal damage, as well as due to microbes and allergies. The cause may also be “internal” pathologies, for example, problems with the gastrointestinal tract or hormonal disruptions, etc.


  • In some places, hair loss;
  • Severe itching;
  • Skin lesions;
  • Red spots (disappear when pressed on the skin);
  • Over time, papules are formed – vesicles with exudate;
  • When the blisters burst, a crust and cracks form on the skin (dry eczema) or pustules (weeping eczema)

7. Inflammation of the Ear Cartilage

As a rule, a consequence of neglected otitis media or trauma. Inflammation quickly flows into necrosis, and in this case, it is necessary to remove the affected tissues, and often the entire ear.


  • Edema, swelling;
  • Redness;
  • Pain;
  • Deformation.

With necrosis, the ear cartilage turns black, and large ulcers appear in the depths of the ear.

What is the Remedy for an Ear Infection in Dogs?

All dogs, regardless of breed and age, can suffer from ear diseases, but most often diseases are diagnosed in hunting dogs. These dogs constantly have contact with the earth and water, because of which various microorganisms or foreign objects enter their ears. In addition, long-hanging ears are poorly ventilated, which means that an environment favorable for the development of bacteria is formed inside the ear canal.

Hydrogen Peroxide:

It is more convenient to purchase a bottle equipped with a pipette. Just put a few drops in your dog’s ear and then wipe them along with the resulting foam with a cotton pad.


The solution has a disinfectant property. It is recommended to use it in the presence of wounds or other damage. Too frequent use of chlorhexidine provokes dry skin and dermatological diseases, so it is used only for healing purposes.


A small amount of the product is applied to a cotton pad, the ear is wiped with it. Saline works well for dogs with upright ears.

Boric Alcohol:

It is not recommended to use the remedy without a doctor’s prescription. For the introduction of alcohol, a pipette is used, a few drops are poured into each ear, then they are wiped with a cotton pad. It acts as a therapeutic, and not as a hygienic agent, it is used for otitis media of varying severity.


It has an anti-inflammatory and healing effect. It is used if there are wounds and damage to the auricle.


It has a more gentle, but similar disinfectant effect.

Despite the widespread use of all of the above remedies, veterinarians do not recommend their use without indications. If you just need to clean your dog’s ears, use a special lotion from the vet.

Due to the rich composition, preparations for cleaning and treating the ears are able to fight not only bacteria, mites, and fungi, but also help wounds, cracks, and ulcers heal faster. However, only a veterinarian is competent to choose a safe and highly effective drug, as well as prescribe the exact dosage. Before administering medicine to dogs, be sure to visit a specialist.

How Do You Clean Your Dog’s Ear Regularly?

A four-legged pet receives almost a third of the information about the world around it through the organs of hearing. Sounds are the most important part of the life of an animal, it is guided by them in most cases.

The dog’s ear shells are regularly polluted: dust and dirt, water get into them, and insects fly in. Pollution of the ear canal in an animal is fraught with the appearance of serious diseases. That is why it is extremely important to monitor the hygiene of the dog’s ears.

Depending on the breed of the dog, the frequency of the procedures is regulated. So, some pets need to be cleaned literally every day or at least every other day. These are long-haired breeds with floppy ears. The ventilation of the auricles in these dogs is worse than in the short-haired breeds with erect ears. You should also consider the age of the animal and its lifestyle.

Be sure to be on your guard if dirt regularly accumulates in the ear or the pet behaves restlessly, scratches its ears, or shakes its head. These are the first symptoms of diseases.

Take your dog to a specialist to rule out health problems. If you groom your dog regularly but your ears are constantly getting dirty, it’s best to check with your veterinarian to avoid starting a problem.

Some breeds with erect ears also need painstaking care: this applies to those animals in which thick and long hair grows in shells. It prevents ventilation and creates favorable conditions for the development of harmful microorganisms. The ears of such pets are examined at least once a week, and for hygiene purposes, the hairs in the ear canals are shortened.

There are many types of ear cleaners available. It is very easy to get lost in this diversity. When choosing an ear cleaner for dogs, you should clearly understand how each of them works.

Special lotions from the veterinary pharmacy dissolve dirt and earwax, which is removed by massaging, with a dry cloth or by shaking the ears of the dog itself.

Dogs belonging to long-eared breeds are recommended to use a special powder that has a drying effect. First, you need to clean the auricle with the product and then apply the powder. It will improve ventilation in the ears, which will help prevent the accumulation of dirt.

Prevention Of Dog Ear Problems:

  • It is necessary to carry out treatments for parasites every three months.
  • Keep your pet’s ears clean.
  • Check your ears (and not only) after each walk for parasites/foreign objects/wounds.
  • When cleaning your ears, do not use cotton swabs, so as not to harm them.
  • Do not allow contact with other animals whose health you are not sure about.

Following these simple rules will help keep your pet healthy.

How To Tell If Your Dog Has Earaches:

It is possible according to the following signs:

  • Dog shakes head
  • Itching, pain when touched;
  • Presses his ears;
  • The head is tilted towards the affected ear;
  • Redness, discharge, and an unpleasant odor are possible.
  • Ear pathologies are common and can be caused by a number of factors: allergies, parasites, trauma, stress, and hormonal failure. They can also be chronic.
  • It is possible to diagnose the disease only in the clinic after examination with the help of an otoscope and laboratory tests.
  • Treatment should be prescribed by a veterinarian after diagnosis!
  • Prevent problems so you don’t have to fix them later.


As you can see, ear disease in dogs is a serious problem, but treatable. You just need to identify the disease in time and provide your pet with first aid. But it is better to carefully monitor the pet’s auricles so that later you do not spend a lot of money on its treatment.

Aapt Dubey
Aapt Dubey

Aapt Dubey, a devoted canine enthusiast and experienced dog Owner, brings boundless passion to our team. With a heart full of love for our four-legged friends, Aapt is dedicated to sharing insights on dog care, behavior, and training to make every pup's life happier and healthier at ItsAboutDog.com.

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