Ear Infections in Dogs: Types, Symptoms and Treatments

Ear infections in dogs are incredibly common and at some point in your dog’s life, they will more than likely develop a case. Ear infections can result from allergies, ear mites, improper hygiene, dirt, or water buildup in the ear canal, and even their environment. If an ear infection is inspected, the dog should immediately be taken to a veterinarian. Although ear infections are not fatal, they can cause damage to your dog’s ear as well as severe discomfort and should never go untreated.

It is incredibly important to frequently check your dog’s ears for build up; especially after they been around other dogs or have played outside. You should also frequently check your dog’s ears if they have the longer, floppier ears, such as Cocker Spaniels, which are notorious for getting bacterial ear infections.

Types of Ear Infections in Dogs

There are three types of ear infections that your dog can develop, though the causes for infections are numerous. Three types are outer, inner, and middle.

  • The most common cause of ear infections is in the form of ear mites. They are not particularly harmful to your dog, only irritating, though if they go untreated for long periods of time, your dog can develop a more severe form of ear infection from mites. Most people do not even realize their dogs have ear mites until they go for their yearly checkup at the vet.
  • The next common type of infection is one that occurs from the buildup of wax and dirt. Dogs that have long hair in their inner canals need trips to the groomer to have them removed. This fur traps dirt and materials that aggravate the inner ear and lead to infections. Water can become trapped in the inner ear, causing an infection, so a lot of groomers recommend using a powder in the dog’s ears before and after bathing.

Allergies to food or the environment can also cause an ear infection. Some dogs get seasonal allergies just like their human counterparts, and this can cause fluid to drain into the ear canal, making them swell, turn reddish, and itchy. Your dog may catch bacterial and fungal infections as well.

Signs of an Ear Infection in Dogs

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The most obvious sign your dog has an infection is scratching vigorously at the ears. The ears might be sore to the touch as well, so you may hear your dog whining when he scratches.

The ear, especially if it is an outer infection, will have a terrible smell, and you will notice some kind of discharge. The ear may be red, swollen, or tender.

Inner and middle ear infections will also display similar characteristics as outer ear infections, but require more immediate vet attention.

If it is ear mites, you will find clumps of dark brown to almost black greasy spots inside the ear. Of course, there will be a foul smell too.

Preventing an Ear Infection in Dogs

The first step to preventing an ear infection is to keep your pet’s ears clean and frequently check them for buildup. Grooming powder is available at most pet stores. You can use it for your pooch if he is suffering from allergy, since it keeps fluid from building up in the inner canal and is great for after bath time.

Dogs with long, floppy ears should regularly see a groomer so that their ears can be safely cleaned. Dogs with long fur inside their ears should see their groomer to have this hair removed.

You can also clean your dog’s long, floppy ears at home with a cotton ball dipped into a dog ear cleaning solution (available at most pet stores). Never use a cotton swab. Do not press the cotton ball down into the ear canal or squirt fluid into your dog’s ear unless recommended by a vet.

Treating Ear Infections in Dogs

If you suspect an ear infection in your dog, it is always best to seek professional medical help. Many times, the vet will prescribe an antibiotic to treat your dog’s ear infection. However, if there are ear mites, your vet will often provide you with a cleaning solution, instructions, and a topical ointment or drops to kill the mites.

Although there are several websites that suggest home remedies to treat infections in dogs, it is always best to go to a vet before proceeding with any home treatment.


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