Dog Ear Infection: Why It Arises and What to Do

Ear problems are one of the most common reasons for visiting a vet. It is very important to identify and treat them in time so that they don’t become chronic and don’t lead to hearing loss. So, what are the signs of ear infection in a pet, why does it arise and what to do?

Reasons for Dog Ear Infection

There are factors that reduce local immunity in the auricle, create favorable conditions for the reproduction of bacteria, and increase the risk of ear infections. They are:

  • ear mite;
  • allergic reactions;
  • diseases of the immune system;
  • ear injuries (including trauma because of aggressive ear cleaning with inappropriate tools);
  • a lot of hair in the external auditory canal;
  • excess earwax;
  • ear polyps or tumors;
  • getting cold frequently;
  • increased moisture in the ear canal (may be provoked by water ingress during swimming or bathing).

Predisposition to Ear Diseases in Dogs

Some breeds are at greater risk of these illnesses due to innate anatomical features.

These are the ones that have big heavy hanging ears. Also, these are the breeds that are prone to increased production of earwax. And the last congenital feature that increases the risk of such illnesses is a large amount of hair around the ear and in the outer ear.

Here are the breeds that need more thorough attention to ear hygiene and regular preventive examinations by a vet:

make your dog obidient
  • Bloodhound;
  • Cocker Spaniel;
  • Poodle;
  • Labrador;
  • German Shepherd;
  • Afghan Hound;
  • Scottish Terrier;
  • Yorkshire Terrier;
  • Fox Terrier;
  • Maltese.

Types of Dog Ear Infection

An ear infection is also called otitis. This is the inflammation of the ear. Depending on the precise localization, there are three types of otitis.

Otitis externa

This is the inflammation of the external auditory canal, which runs from the eardrum to the auricle and is made up of the skin lining the cartilaginous tissue. It can be easily noticed by an owner as it is localized not deep. Just open the ear a little bit, and you will see the symptoms. This form of the disease has the most favorable prognosis. If detected in time, it can be easily and quickly treated, rarely causing complications.

Otitis media

This is the inflammation of the cavity behind the eardrum. Such a form of the disease usually develops as a complication of otitis externa. This variation of otitis is more dangerous as it is more difficult to cure and provokes hearing loss more often. Also, this form of the disease is often undiagnosed for a long time. If it is not combined with otitis externa only a vet can notice it during a special examination of the ears.


This is the inflammation of internal structures of the ear that play the most important role in the process of hearing (cochlea and labyrinth). This is the most dangerous form of the disease since in most cases it provokes hearing impairment. However, its symptoms may be hard to notice for dog owners. So, it is important to visit a vet regularly for preventive examinations.

Symptoms of Dog Ear Infection

Symptoms common to all types of otitis may include weakness, apathy, poor appetite. More specific signs vary depending on the type of illness.

Otitis externa

This type of disease can be identified by the following symptoms:

  • a dog scratches ears;
  • a pet shakes his head as if he wanted to shake something out of the ear;
  • anxiety and negative reaction when you try to touch the ear;
  • you can see redness and swelling of the auricle;
  • there is discharge from the ears with an unpleasant odor;
  • the fur around the ears falls out.

Otitis media

This disease often goes together with otitis externa. So, the signs may be the same. Also, the following symptoms can be added:

  • head tilt to the affected side;
  • coordination disorders;
  • nystagmus (uncontrolled rhythmic movements of the eyeballs).
  • Horner’s syndrome (drooping of the upper eyelid and constriction of the pupil) may appear because the middle ear is closely related to nerves that may be damaged by inflammation.

Sometimes these signs go without ear redness, swallowing, or discharge, so for the owner, it is difficult to understand that they are provoked by ear problems.


The most pronounced symptom of this disease is impaired coordination and the desire to rely on something while walking. This is because the cochlea and the labyrinth play an important role not only in hearing but also in coordination.

Cure of Dog Ear Infection

If you have noticed at least one or several symptoms from the ones listed above then immediately go to a vet. A doctor will examine the ears of your dog and prescribe the appropriate medication. The treatment regimen and its duration will depend on the type and severity of the disease.

Most often, treatment includes eardrops or washing the ears with special solutions that kill pathogens.

Depending on the cause and severity of the disease, treatment will last from 2-3 weeks to a few months.

You will also need to get rid of the cause that provoked the disease. For example, to get rid of ear mites or treat allergies. In some cases, surgery may be needed if an ear inflammation was caused by polyps or tumors inside the ear.

Related: Best Dog Ear Cleaners

Cleaning your dog’s ears should not be stressful – either for your pet or for you. Here we are listing the best dog ear cleaners to facilitate this task.

Caring for the Dog During Treatment

If a pet is apathetic, let him have a rest. Don’t try to feed your dog more than he wants. If the appetite is poor, it is enough for the pet to eat at least a little.

Clean the pet’s ears of all secretions thoroughly . If you omit this important part of treatment, it will take your dog longer to recover as the discharge contains a lot of bacteria that should be removed from the body.

Nutrition of Dogs with Ear Diseases

Ear infections are often associated with allergies. In this case, you need to find out what exactly the dog’s immunity reacts negatively to and exclude this component from the diet. You can also try switching to hypoallergenic dry food.

Preventing Ear Infections in Dogs

For your pet not to suffer from otitis, follow these rules:

  • Regularly trim the fur around the ears.
  • Clean the ears in the right way to remove excess earwax. Use specialized dog ear cleaners and cotton pads for this. Never use aggressive substances like alcohol or chlorhexidine! Also, cotton buds are strictly forbidden!
  • Protect your pet’s sleeping area from drafts.
  • It is advisable to keep water out of the dog’s ears while bathing.
  • Regularly visit a vet for examining ears, especially if your pet is of a breed prone to otitis.

 Follow these simple rules and get treatment on time if the disease does arise!

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