Dog Ear Infections: Signs & Treatments

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Cute, sad dog
Photo by Moshe Harosh on Pixabay

No dog is immune to this painful ailment that can appear abruptly, but unfortunately, dogs with adorable, floppy ears are more prone to get them than other breeds. Because their ear canal is a J or L shape, it can lead to infected dog ears because it's easier for dirt to gather there.

It's a widespread ailment that, if ignored, can cause scarring that narrows the ear canal in up to one in five dogs.

An infection in a dog's ear may, in extreme circumstances, result in deafness. This kind of infection might occur for many reasons, but the good news is it is curable if performed with proper treatment.

Continue reading to learn the symptoms of a dog ear infection that owners should watch out for and why it's crucial to a dog's health to give them ear drops for a dog by a doctor as soon as you detect infection.

Three Most Common Types of Ear Infection in Dogs

Otitis externa, media and internal are the three types of ear infections affecting distinct areas of the canine ear.

Otitis externa is the medical term for an inflammatory condition that affects the layer of cells that lines the external or outer part of the ear canal. Infections in the middle and inner ear canal are known as otitis media and interna, and they are frequently brought on by the spread of an infection from the external ear.

Ear Infection Warning Signs

A healthy dog's ear is one that is clean and dry. The outer ear canal typically contains trace amounts of tiny bacteria and yeast, but if debris builds up or the ear canal is damaged, the yeast and bacteria can proliferate out of control and result in an infection.

Common Signs of Infections in Dogs

  • A smell in the ear
  • Red inside the ear
  • Bloody, brown or yellowish discharge
  • Pawing or scratching at the ear
  • Otosclerosis of the ear
  • Head trembling or tilting; scratches or crusts behind the ear
  • Rubbing ear against furniture or a wall

Signs of Severe Infection in Dogs’ Ear

  • Impaired balance or coordination
  • Indicators of hearing loss
  • Circling ineffectively
  • Strange eye movements

It is best to take your dog to the vet for a complete ear examination and get an ear drop for dog if you notice any signs of an ear infection. Dogs with severe ear issues or infections may experience more severe side effects like loss of balance, which can be upsetting for both of you.

What Are the Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs?

There are a variety of causes for canine ear issues, some of which include:

1. Ear Mites

Your dog's ears may become infected with ear mites, which are tiny insects. They are passed from animal to animal or your dog can catch them by lying outside. Although they are not venomous, their presence aggravates the skin of your dog's ears, causing excruciating itching.

2. Moist Ears

Yeast and bacteria flourish in moist, dark environments. Dogs with floppy ears are, therefore, more likely to develop ear infections. Erect ears can easily breathe, keeping them dry. However, the moisture trapped by downward-flapping ears encourages microbial overgrowth.

3. Bacteria

Similar to humans, it's typical for dogs to have a variety of microorganisms living on the surface of their skin. These microbes are often not harmful.

However, according to Grant, if the natural skin barrier is harmed in any manner, becomes irritating and inflamed, it allows bacteria to proliferate uncontrolled.

Best Treatment for an Ear Infection

Your dog's ear will be cleaned with a medicated cleaner by your veterinarian when an ear infection is found. Additionally, the vet will recommend any necessary medications or pain relievers to treat your pet's ear infection.

A topical medication, which your vet may prescribe and give you instructions to apply at home, may also be required to treat the ear issue in your dog.

If the ear infection is treated effectively in the early stages, it often goes away in a week or two. Treatment could be more difficult and involve months of continuous monitoring if the problem is more severe or was brought on by an underlying illness.

More severe cases frequently cause chronic or permanent ear infections throughout the dog's life.


Many dogs experience recurring ear infections, but you can prevent this with your veterinarian's help and maintain your dog's healthy ears. When your dog exhibits signs of an ear infection, seek medical attention right away to prevent the problem from getting worse.

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