Ear Infections in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Ear Infections in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, and TreatmentEar Infections in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Ear Infections in Dogs – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

How do you know if your pup has an ear infection? Many pet owners will often see their pooch scratching around their ears, shaking their heads, or whining. At first, you may think it’s caused by certain health conditions but these are usually the first physical symptoms of an ear infection.

Keep in mind that it’s crucial to detect the signs early in order to prevent the infections from getting worse and give you enough time to seek treatments as soon as the problem arises.

Dogs with long floppy ears such as Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Beagle, English Cocker Spaniel, Bloodhound, and Basset Hound are commonly affected by this problem. In fact, ear infections are very common in dogs and may affect either one or both ears. Luckily, there are treatments available and steps you can take to prevent your pup from having severe ear infections. Apart from this, dog grooming should be done more often to avoid such incidents. Because of this fact, there’s a lot of demand for dog grooming now.

3 types of ear infections

Before we discuss the symptoms and treatments, it’s important to know that there are three types of ear infections.

  1. Otitis Externa: This is the most common type of ear infection. When your pup has otitis externa, the layer of cells lining the external portion of your dog’s ear canal is affected.
  2. Otitis Media: Infection of the middle ear canal.
  3. Otitis Interna: Infection of the inner ear canal.

An ear infection usually starts from the external ear and moves in. It’s not as severe when your pooch as otitis externa, but when it affects the middle to the inner ear canal, that is when it is a serious problem.

If your pup has either otitis media or otitis interna, then it may result in facial paralysis and deafness. In some cases, this condition could lead to vestibular signs including being off-balanced and falling down, tilting of their head in which one ear is held lower than the other, flickering of their eyeballs from side to side or up and down, and circling around aimlessly.

What may be causing this ear infection in your dogs?

Dogs tend to be more affected by ear infections because of how their ear canal is shaped. Compared to humans, a dog’s ear canal is more vertical and it forms an L-shape so it naturally holds in the fluid.

When bacteria or yeast grows in the fluid, it can cause an ear infection. Here are some reasons why your canine may be prone to getting an ear infection.

  • Fluid or warm moisture in your pup’s ear is a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast growth.
  • Injury to the ear canal. If your four-legged friend suffers a major cut or scratch to his ear and the wound is not properly clean, then it can cause an infection.
  • Allergic skin disease
  • Ear wax buildup. It’s crucial to take your canine to see the vet regularly for regular checkups. The vet will perform a thorough physical examination of your pooch and remove any excess ear wax build-up.
  • If your pup has autoimmune disorders, he may be prone to getting an ear infection. Ask your dog’s vet what they recommend you can do to reduce the chance of getting ear infections.
  • Do not excessively clean your canine’s ear. You may remove the good healthy bacteria that are there to protect your pup’s ear from infection.

Ear infections in dogs symptoms

Sometimes your pooch may not show any signs or symptoms of an ear infection. Symptoms could be very minor such as discharge in their ear canal or simply a buildup of ear wax. Other symptoms of infection are more severe to the point that it causes great discomfort.

You may see the following signs and symptoms of an ear infection:

  • Your pup scratching his affected ear
  • Itchiness of the ear area or head
  • Shaking his head frequently
  • Dark color discharge from the ear or ears
  • A stinky odor from around the ear or head area
  • Pain
  • Scabs in the ears or crusting

A proper diagnosis from your dog’s vet

If you notice the signs and symptoms, speak with your vet right away to get a proper diagnosis. Do not try to treat the ear infection by yourself at home. This could make the problem worse.

Inform your vet what you’ve noticed from your pup’s behavior and whether he has had any infections in the past. Describe the symptoms you’re seeing as best as you can. Make sure to let your vet know if you notice any odor, ear discharge, frequent scratching, or swelling.

Your pup’s vet will swab your pooch’s ear in order to take samples from it and perform a microscopic examination. She may use an otoscope to examine the ear canal and eardrum. In some severe cases, the vet may perform an X-ray or biopsy.

Treatments available for dogs with ear infections

There are several treatment options available for dogs with ear infections. Your pup’s vet may prescribe an ear cleanser and a topical medication. If your pup has severe cases of ear infection, then they may recommend anti-inflammatory medications or oral antibiotics.

With proper treatments, many mild ear infections can be resolved within a week or two.

Some pooch may have severe ear infections. If this is the case, then your vet may recommend a Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA) surgery in which the ear canal is removed to remove the affected tissue and prevent the infection from happening again.

If your vet recommends any dog medication, make sure you give your pup the full course of the medication. Sometimes midway through the medication, your pooch may look like he’s getting better. Regardless, continue to give your canine the medication until it’s done so that there’s no resistance to the infections.

It is highly likely, especially if your pup had a severe case of ear infections, that he will need to return to the vet hospital for frequent checkups to ensure he is healing properly.


Getting an ear infection can be very painful so it’s best to prevent it in the first place. Since it is a common problem amongst dogs and can reoccur, it’s crucial to visit your vet for their regular check-up. Early detection is key and your pup’s vet will perform a thorough checkup as well as helping to keep your canine’s ear clean. Getting treatments sooner will prevent the problem from becoming serious.