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Common Dog Ear Problems: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Common Dog Ear Problems: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Unlike humans who have short ear canals, dogs have long, ‘L’-shaped ear canals that can easily trap dirt, moisture, parasites, yeast, and bacteria. This makes dogs susceptible to ear problems. If these ear issues aren’t treated, they can lead to further problems like hearing loss and infection.

Hearing is one of your dog’s sharpest senses, so protecting his sense of hearing is important for his overall quality of life. There are a few different common dog ear problems that can pose problems for your pet. Recognizing the symptoms of ear issues and treating them promptly will help protect your dog’s ear health!

Symptoms of Dog Ear Problems

Your dog may show a variety of different symptoms if he is experiencing ear issues. Symptoms can include:

  • Ear odor
  • Swelling
  • Discomfort
  • Redness
  • Discharge
  • Head shaking
  • Head Tilting
  • Loss of balance
  • Walking in circles
  • Hair loss around the ear
  • Scabs or crusts
  • Rubbing the ear against things or pawing at the ears

Common Dog Ear Problems

  • Ear infections: An outer ear infection, also called otitis externa, is one of the most common types of infections seen in dogs. In some cases, an external ear infection may spread to the middle and inner ear. Ear infections in dogs are commonly caused by bacteria, yeast, ear mites, allergies, excessive hair growth in the inner hair, foreign bodies, and more. Dogs with floppy ears, like cocker spaniels and basset hounds, are more prone to ear infections. Ear infections should be addressed because untreated infections could result in eventual hearing loss.
  • Ear mites: Although more common in cats, dogs can also have ear mites. According to PetMD, mites are behind most ear problems in puppies and young dogs. However, they can happen to any dog. These microscopic parasites feed on the wax and oils inside your pet’s ears. Ear mites often cause a dark, dry, and crumbly debris in the ear, which resemble coffee grounds.
  • Ear hematomas: When dogs have ear mites or an ear infection, they may scratch or shake their heads to try and relieve their symptoms. This can sometimes cause a hematoma in the ear, which is a firm and swollen mass on the inside of your pet’s ear flap. PetMD explains that hematomas occur when a blood vessel within the ear flap ruptures and bleeding happens between the tissue layers. They can also be caused by a foreign object stuck inside your dog’s ear.

Treating Dog Ear Issues

Treating your dog’s ear issues will depend on the cause but often include medications or ear drops. Bacterial infections are commonly treated with antibiotics and ear cleaning. Ear infections may also require anti-inflammatory medications. Ear mites are usually treated with a gentle ear cleaning, insecticidal ear drops, or prescription medication. Treating a hematoma usually involves draining the blood from the mass to prevent further issues.

Preventing Dog Ear Problems

Although it isn’t always possible to prevent ear issues, there are a few steps you can take to help promote healthy ears in your dog.

  • Clean your pet’s ears on a regular basis to help keep the ears healthy. Keeping the ears clean can help prevent ear disease, ear mites, and ear infections.
  • Inspecting your dog’s ears on a regular basis will help you catch any ear issues early. When looking at your pet’s ears, be on the lookout for redness, an unusual odor, itchiness, scabs or crusts, and discharge. Healthy ears should be clean, pink, and odor-free.
  • If your pet starts showing unusual behavior, like loss of balance, head shaking, or walking in circles, you should schedule an appointment with your vet who can examine your dog’s ears and rule out any underlying issues.
  • After your dog swims or gets bathed, it’s important to dry his ears thoroughly to help prevent an ear infection. You can also put cotton balls into your pet’s ears while bathing to prevent the ears from getting wet.
  • If your dog has particularly hairy ears, it may help to clip excess hair around the ears to prevent excess moisture buildup.
  • Take your dog to the vet for routine checkups. Routine checkups and veterinary care are important for detecting ear issues early and protecting your pet’s hearing and ear health.

Promote Ear Health with Ear Remedy

Thomas Labs® understands the importance of ear health, which is why we developed Ear Remedy in two useful formulas. 

Herbal Supplement: Ear Remedy is an herbal supplement that promotes healthy ears in dogs. It contains a proprietary blend of herbs that support your pet’s immune system, minimize ear discharge, and help soothe occasional ear discomfort. 

Herbal Solution: Ear Remedy Solution is a safe, gentle ear wash that helps remove dirt, wax, and discharge in dogs. This ear cleaning solution is formulated with a natural herbal blend that works to clean, deodorize, and soothe the ears. These herbs provide relief from itching, decrease occasional ear discomfort, and help reduce ear odor.

Promoting your dog’s ear health is important for helping maintain your pet’s quality of life. Maintaining good ear hygiene in your dog may seem overwhelming at first. But once you start regularly cleaning your dog’s ears and checking for issues, it will be easier to maintain and stay on top of. Promoting the health of your pet’s ears and cleaning the ears often can help minimize dog ear problems!


The materials and information provided on this website are not intended to replace the medical advice or services of your veterinarian or other pet healthcare professional. Consult your own veterinarian if you have medical questions concerning diagnosis, treatment, therapy, or medical attention.

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