Dog Tips

Ear Infections in Dogs

We have experienced ear pains several times in our life, especially when we were kids. To cure the same, we have tried multiple home-remedies including cleaning it with ear-buds, our own fingers, etc. I personally have tried some unusual remedies like applying pain-balm to a cotton ball and putting it in the ear or asking a smoker to smoke one puff inside the ear. And surprisingly, both of them have helped getting immediate relief. But these were probably trial and error or temporary methods. Let us first understand what causes this pain, what are ear infections and then we can try to understand the same for our beloved pets.

What are Ear Infections?

An ear infection, which in medical terms is called acute otitis media, is an infection of the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear. It occurs when a bacterium or a virus gets into the middle ear. This then leads to several other illnesses like cold, flu, or allergy, causing congestion and swelling of nasal passages and throat.

Common signs of Ear Infection

Some of the common signs and symptoms of ear infections, especially in children, include –

  • Ear pain, especially while lying down

  • Tugging or pulling at an ear

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Fussiness

  • Trouble hearing or responding to sounds

  • Loss of balance

  • Fever of 100 F (38 C) or higher

  • Drainage of fluid from the ear

  • Headache

  • Loss of appetite

Ear Infection in Dogs

We humans mostly have similar ears in terms of shape and size. But that is not the same with dogs. For them, ears become one of the most distinguishable body-parts. And because most of them have long, floppy ears, ear infections become a common condition. Dogs like Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels are more prone to ear problems than others because of the same reason. A sad fact is that about 20% of all dogs suffer from some kind of ear disease.

Types of Ear Infections in Dogs

There are 3 most common types of ear infections found in dogs. These include –

  • Otitis externa – This affects the layer of cells lining the outer or external portion of the ear canal. The affected part gets inflamed.

  • Otitis media and interna – These refer to the infections of the middle and inner ear canal. They happen due to the spread of infection from the external part of the ears.

Note: Internal infections are a more severe kind. They could even lead to deafness, facial paralysis, or signs of vestibular diseases, such as head tilting, circling, and lack of coordination.

Signs of Ear Infection in Dogs

Unlike your human baby, your four-legged baby won’t be able to tell you that he/she is feeling discomfort in the ears. As a responsible pet parent, you need to look out for signs and symptoms for the same, which include –

  • Frequent head shaking

  • Scratching at the affected ear

  • Dark discharge from either ear

  • Odor

  • Redness and swelling of the ear canal

  • Painful wheezing

  • Itchiness

  • Crusting or scabs in the ears

It is possible that there be no signs of symptoms as such apart from the buildup of wax and discharge in the ear canal for dogs. It is hence necessary that a routine check be done periodically.

Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs

The ear canal of your dog is more vertical than you. The problem with that is that it can hold in more fluids and hence makes it more prone to ear infections. The most basic and common cause of ear infections in dogs is the entry of bacteria or yeast into the ears. For the smaller pups, even ear mites can be a reason. Other reasons that may pre-dispose an ear infection in dogs include –

  • Moisture – It can become a host environment for bacteria and yeast.

  • Allergies – They can lead to ear disease in about 50 percent of dogs with allergic skin disease, and 80 percent of dogs with food sensitivities.

  • Endocrine disorders – Conditions such as thyroid disease can become a catalyst here.

  • Wax buildup – When the ears are not cleaned for a long time, the accumulated wax can develop bacteria and thus infection.

  • Foreign bodies – These include potential allergens or pollens.

These are again the most common reasons for an ear infection. Others include –

When you should be concerned about Dog’s Ear Infection?

Your vet needs to be consulted in case any of these symptoms occur. But there are some very severe symptoms, which if shown, the dog needs to be taken to the vet immediately and the treatment should begin at the earliest. These include –

  • Hearing loss

  • Loss of balance

  • Strange eye movements

Treatment for Ear Infection in Dogs

Ear infections are most of the time, a sign of an underlying condition like an allergy or something. These can include allergies to ingredients in the dog’s food or some environmental triggers like pollen, molds, and dust mites. So, for treating the infection, it is necessary that the underlying condition be treated. To help the dog, get rid of the pain and discomfort from the infection, there are some remedies that can be done. These include –

  • Gently clean your dog’s ears with a vet-recommended cleanser. The dog may have to be sedated as the pain can be unbearable.

  • Proper training is to be taken from a professional on how to clean the ears.

  • Use a clean cotton ball dipped in the cleaning solution and gently massage the ear base

  • Allow the ear to dry out for 10 minutes

  • Instill the prescribed medication then

  • In some cases, even oral medication might be required depending on the severity of the infection

Note: Do not use Q-tips for cleaning the ears. Do not use rubbing alcohol as a cleanser.


Ear Infection is a very common condition amongst dogs since a fifth of the dog population suffers from ear problems. The best cure is to prevent it by cleaning it periodically with recommended solutions. A hygiene routine would go a long way in ensuring your dog’s long-term health. Also, do not forget to keep your vet updated about it. Also, read about Fever in Dogs, Epilepsy in Dogs & Swelling in Dogs.

Happy Mood and Health to your Doggo and lots of Love and Lick to you!


Follow us on Instagram

Follow us everywhere else: