Dog Ear Infections: Everything You Need to Know

There are many possible causes of dog ear infections. Ear infections can be painful for your pup, so getting them to the vet is essential to get them treated right away. The longer the ear infection goes untreated, the worse it can become.

Dogs are more predisposed to ear infections than humans due to the shape of their ear canals. The most common dog ear infections are bacterial infections or yeast infections. Sometimes ear infections can be caused by environmental allergies or endocrine issues.

dog ear infection

You can help prevent ear infections for your dog altogether. If you regularly clean your dog’s ears and make sure they are free of wax and dirt, this will help. If you read this article, you will find out everything you need to know about dog ear infections.

What Are the Symptoms of Ear Infection in Dogs?

Sometimes dogs do not demonstrate any symptoms of ear infection. Ear infections are typically painful for dogs, so you will need to frequently examine your dog’s ears to know if they are clean and healthy. The following are some common symptoms of a dog ear infection:

  • Dark discharge
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Redness or swelling of the ear canal
  • Pain
  • Constant head shaking
  • Itchiness
  • Scabs in the ears

Around 20 percent of dogs suffer from some kind of ear disease in one or both ears. If you note your dog has any of these symptoms, you must get them to the vet right away.

Do not make an attempt to clean your dog’s ears if there is any sign of infection. It can be too painful for them, and it requires the help of a veterinarian.

What Causes Ear Infection in Dogs?

There are a plethora of causes of ear infections in dogs. Most of the time, an ear infection results from an underlying problem. The following include some of the causes of ear infection in dogs:

Ear Mites

When your pup has ear mites, they live in your dog’s fur. Ear mites are typically black and cause a lot of pain and itchiness in your dog’s ear. Ear mites devour skin debris, which triggers inflammation and perpetuates the infection. Some of the problems ear mites can cause your dog include:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Inflammation in the ear canal
  • (Eventually) Partial or complete deafness

Ear mites usually have eggs, which need to be destroyed. Ear mite medication will kill the adult mites but leave the eggs, so it can take time to resolve the problem.

Environmental Allergies

Some of the most common environmental allergies that can cause ear infections in dogs to include:

  • Mold
  • Pollen
  • Dander

Allergies cause the skin barrier to lessen, producing excess wax in the ear canal. Yeast and bacteria are made, which permits severe infection strains to grow. This growth can cause the following:

  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Discharge

Chronic inflammation can trigger the deterioration of the opening of the ear canal. Treatment is often difficult for this affliction.

Endocrine Issues

Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease can be the culprit when your dog has an ear infection. If a dog keeps getting otitis externa and they are not itchy, endocrine disease could be to blame. Symptoms of endocrine disease in dogs include the following:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Excessive hunger
  • Weight gain
  • Sleepiness
  • Poor coat condition

If you see your pup has any of these symptoms, take them to the vet as soon as possible. With endocrine issues, your dog may need lifelong treatment.

Food Allergies

More than 20 percent of ear infections begin with just otitis externa, and ear disease occurs in 80 percent of ear infections from food allergies. Animals with food allergies tend to have recurrent skin and ear infections unless the underlying cause is taken care of.

Inhalant Allergies

Inhalant allergies are the most common underlying cause of ear infections in dogs. Seasonal allergies are usually the perpetrator.

It generally worsens over time. The dogs who suffer from this tend to have itchy feet, faces, and ears. They are susceptible to secondary skin and ear infections which often occur after treatment.


Some research suggests that chronic, long-term inflammation of the ear canal could cause tumors in the ear. It can form due to abnormal growth of tissue. Some of the symptoms of ear tumors include the following:

  • Swelling of the ear
  • Crying when the ear is touched
  • Bloody or yellow discharge
  • Chronic ear infections
  • Scratching or rubbing the ear
  • Foul odor coming from the ear
  • The visible growth in the ear

The initial symptoms mean your canine is very uncomfortable, so seeing the vet would be the best course of action. Fortunately, most ear tumors are benign. There are many different types of ear tumors. These include:

  • Tissue tumor of the inner ear
  • Tissue tumor of the outer ear
  • Bone tumor
  • Tissue tumor of the middle ear
  • Earwax gland tumor

Most vets will want to remove the ear tumor no matter where it occurs in the ear. The tumor can cause infection, pain, or growth if left untreated.

What is the Remedy for an Ear Infection in Dogs?

A good ear cleaning is an integral part of treating ear infections in dogs. You must be careful to remember that you could over clean your pup’s ears, which can also lead to infection. A clean dog’s ear is the following:

  • Pink on the inside
  • Not dirty
  • Not swollen
  • No nasty odor

If your dog’s ear is red and inflamed or smells like yeast, take them to the vet as soon as possible. Your veterinarian should clean out an infected ear.

How Do You Clean Your Dog’s Ear Regularly?

You need three things to clean a dog’s ear successfully. These include the following:

  • Cotton ball or gauze
  • Dog ear cleaning solution
  • Towel

Do not use any tool with a pointed tip, such as a Q-tip. A Q-tip can further push the dirt deeper into your pup’s ears, triggering infection. Here is how to clean your dog’s ear in simple steps:

  • Clean your pup’s ears in a bathroom or someplace where your dog is free to shake their head as much as they want
  • Fill your dog’s ear with dog cleaning ear solution and lightly rub at the base of the ear for 30 seconds
  • Use a cotton ball or gauze and wipe the ear canal without going in too deep. If your dog appears in pain, stop the cleaning immediately and contact your veterinarian.

Cleaning your canine’s ears regularly can help prevent infection. You should aim to clean your pup’s ears at least once a month. Regular ear cleanings will also serve as a preventative measure against mites and other problems before they become a significant issue.

You should also take care to dry your dog’s ears after a bath. Moisture creates a breeding ground for bacteria to thrive. If you clean the ears after a bath, this will help to prevent excess moisture from causing an ear infection.

Keep Your Dog’s Ears Clean and Infection Free

Ear infections are a common dilemma for dogs, but by using regular preventative measures, you can help keep your pup’s ears fresh and free from infection. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you see evidence of swelling, redness, or infection.

Antioch Veterinary Hospital is here for all your pet care needs. Don’t hesitate to give us a call if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s health.