Canine Ear Infections: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Canine Ear Infections
Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

“When bathing your dog, make sure to block the ear canal with a small
cotton ball soaked in olive oil. This will prevent water from getting in the ear.”

Dog Health

Canine ear infections are very common in dogs. Does your dog often scratch its ears or shake its head? Does your dog constantly tilt its head towards one side? Is there a foul odor coming from its ear? Does your dog yelp in pain when you touch its ear? If the answer to these questions is yes, your dog is likely suffering from an ear infection, one of the most common dog health problems.

Overview/Snapshot of Disease or Condition

There are three types of canine ear infections: outer, middle and inner ear infection. Ear infection in dogs requires immediate medical attention, because with time the infection can get worse. This is especially true in the case of middle and inner ear infection.

It has been noted that particular breeds of dogs are more prone to canine ear infections than some other breeds. For instance, Cocker Spaniels are more likely to develop ear infections than German Shepherds. It is the flopped ears of Cocker Spaniels that contribute to the greater likelihood of this condition.


If you are a dog owner, it is a must to understand and become aware of the symptoms associated with canine ear infections, including:

  • Offensive odor
  • Constant scratching of ears or head titled to one side
  • Brownish or pus-like discharge
  • Presence of crusted matter in the ear
  • The lining of the ear gets thickened and tough, wet, ulcerated and red
  • Ears are painful to touch
  • Change in your dog’s behavior


There are various causes of canine ear infections, including:

  • Allergies: Your dog might be allergic to certain food or something in the environment.
  • Parasites: Mites and ticks can cause your dog to scratch their ears so hard that they end up traumatizing them.
  • Foreign Bodies: The presence of foreign bodies, like grass or hair, can cause ear infections.
  • Bacteria and Yeast: Hormonal imbalances, presence of moisture in the ear and allergies can cause bacteria and yeast infection in the ear.
  • Hormonal Imbalance: Abnormalities in the thyroid hormone, sex hormones, and glucocorticoids (produced by the adrenal gland) are associated
    with ear infections.
  • Ear Environment: If your dog’s ears are moist and dirty, it can lead to ear infection.


The treatment for this most common of canine health problems will obviously depend on the cause of the infection. Bacterial infections are usually treated with antibiotics and yeast infections with antifungal medications. If the infection is caused due to mites, your veterinarian would first clean the ear or ears and then apply an ear medication to kill the mites.

If the ear infection is due to an allergic reaction, a good cleaning followed by the application of medication would likely be prescribed. Besides applying ear medication, you would also need to take steps to determine the cause of the allergic reaction. Once you know the cause it will be easier to prevent future occurrences.


In most cases canine ear infections can be prevented. The first step is to keep your dog?s ears clean. Hair on and around the ear flap should also be trimmed regularly.

When you are cleaning your dog?s ears, check for the presence of any mites, ticks or foreign bodies (like grass, weeds, etc.) in the ear. If you own a breed with flopped ears, you need to be extra careful.

When bathing your dog, make sure to block the ear canal with a small cotton ball soaked in olive oil. This will prevent water from getting in the ear. A regular visit to your veterinarian can also help keep canine ear infections at bay.

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