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What Common Ear Problems in Dogs?

Otitis externa is an external ear canal infection or outer ear infection and is one of the most common types of infections seen in dogs. Ear infections are more common in some breeds, particularly those with large, floppy, or hairy ears, but can occur in any breed. 

Common ear problems in dogs include ear infections, mites, allergies, and excessive wax buildup. These conditions can cause symptoms such as itching, shaking of the head, odor, discharge, and redness or swelling of the ears. Left untreated, they can lead to more serious issues, such as hearing loss or chronic ear disease. It’s important to have your dog’s ears checked regularly by a veterinarian and to follow good ear care practices, such as cleaning the ears regularly and avoiding exposure to irritants.

The Most Common Ear Problems

It’s important to have any suspected ear problems checked by a veterinarian as they can be uncomfortable or painful for the dog. Some conditions can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated. Here are some of the common ear problems in dogs:

Allergic Reactions

From early spring to late fall, allergic reactions in dogs are widespread. These infections are typically seasonal, with a recurrence around the same time each year. Your dog is probably allergic to something in bloom at that time of year. This is most likely an allergy to pollen from trees or grass. 

Your veterinarian can perform an allergy test to determine your pet’s allergy. Bathing your dog regularly is one of the most effective ways to alleviate seasonal allergies. These baths will help keep pollen and grass from adhering to their fur.

Ear Mites

Ear mites, known as Otodectes cynotis, are our canine patients’ second most common ear problems. If your dog has ear mites, you may notice any or all of the following symptoms:

  • Shaking the head
  • Scratching excessively at the ears and around the head
  • Brown particles resembling coffee grains are found inside your dog’s ear.
  • Waxy secretion that is black or brown

Because of the nature of the symptoms, additional complications, such as blood pooling, may occur, as blood vessels in the ear can fail due to scratching and shaking the head.

Allergies to foods

Food allergies are uncommon in dogs, but they can cause ear problems. This is one of the most common sites associated with food allergies. The most common food allergies in pets are to beef, eggs, chicken, and dairy. If you suspect your dog has a food allergy, try changing their diet. These are two excellent diets to try.

  • A novel protein diet is one in which the protein source is unusual meats such as kangaroo, fish, rabbit, or venison.
  • A hydrolyzed protein diet reduces protein size by hydrolyzing it.

Both diets should be tried for at least six weeks before concluding they do not work.

Infections caused by bacteria

Bacterial infections in the ear frequently cause ear infections. These ear infections will result in discharge from the ears. A variety of bacteria could cause the infection. Staph is one of the most common. Ear cleaner and topical medication is used to treat this type of ear infection. This could be something you have to do every day for a week, or your veterinarian could pack your dog’s ear with medication that lasts a week.

Infections caused by yeast

Another common cause of ear problems is yeast infections. If your dog is allergic, it will produce more skin oils. These oils accumulate in the ears, creating an ideal yeast environment. A yeast infection in your dog’s ear will produce very odorous waxy debris. Take your dog to the vet if you notice a strong odor coming from his ears. They can confirm that your dog has a yeast infection and start him on a yeast treatment.

These infections frequently recur throughout your dog’s life. If your dog often gets yeast infections in their ears, consult your veterinarian about ear preventative maintenance.

Foreign Objects

Numerous foreign objects can lodge in your dog’s ears and cause problems. These are some of the most common things veterinarians discover in dog ears.


Dogs who enjoy playing outside and rolling in the dirt are prone to getting dirt in their ears. This dirt will not cause infection but may cause your pet’s ears to itch.

Plant Debris

A piece can easily get into their ears when your dog is outside sniffing around in the tall grass. Grass seeds and other debris can irritate your dog’s ears.

Small Bugs

Small bugs, fleas, and ticks can enter your dog’s ears while sleeping. Your veterinarian can inspect your dog’s ears to ensure no bugs are inside.

Dried Ear Medication

If your dog recently had an ear infection, the ear medication may have dried in their ears, causing them to be uncomfortable. This is easily remedied with an ear cleaning.

What Are the Symptoms of an Ear Infection? 

Your dog may exhibit a variety of ear infection symptoms. The following are some of the most common symptoms seen in dogs with ear infections:

  • Head trembling
  • The odor emanating from the ears
  • rubbing the ears
  • Ear discharge that is bloody or yellow
  • Redness in the ears and around the ears

Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice any of these symptoms in your dog. They’ll examine your dog’s ears to determine what’s causing the redness.

How to Treat Ear Problems? 

It is always recommended to take your dog to a vet to diagnose and treat ear problems successfully. If your dog is diagnosed with an ear problem, the best treatment for the individual case will be prescribed, which is frequently antibiotics.

Because dogs have so many ear problems, treatment options range from topical solutions and wipes to antibiotics and surgery. For instance, veterinarians can perform simple tests to diagnose a bacterial ear infection and prescribe topical solutions or antibiotics.

To remove foreign bodies in your dog’s ear, such as grass seed, your vet may attempt to flush the ears or remove the items surgically while the dog is sedated or under general anesthesia. This will be followed by pain medication and antibiotics.

Why is it Important to Treat Ear Infections

Dogs with ear infections are in pain. Their ears are constantly in pain, and they frequently scratch and shake their heads. This can result in an aural hematoma, when blood vessels in the ear flap rupture, resulting in a painful swelling that requires surgical treatment. Deep ear infections can cause eardrum damage or rupture, resulting in an internal ear infection and even permanent hearing loss.

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