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Dog Ear Infections:  What They Are and How to Treat Them

Dog Ear Infections: What They Are and How to Treat Them


Are your dog’s ears smelling kind of funky? Maybe there’s some stuff in them but you have no idea what it is. Or maybe your dog’s just doing an awful lot of ear scratching lately. If your dog has some of these symptoms, along with things like head shaking, redness and swelling of the ears, or general grumpiness about being touched on the ears, there’s a good chance your dog has an ear infection, also known as “otitis externa.” What causes ear infections and what can you do about them? Read on…


Ear infections can be caused by allergies to such common things as pet food, dust mites, and fleas. Infections can also be caused by ear mites (no surprise there), as well as foreign bodies in the ear and injury/trauma to the ear. They can sometimes be caused by hormonal imbalances, tumors, immune disease, or even your dog’s particular ear anatomy or too much moisture in the environment.


Take your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis. Your vet will use an instrument called an otoscope to look into the ear and check for anything unusual. A sample of the gunk in your dog’s ears can also be tested to figure out what it’s made of, so your vet will know how to treat the infection.


Bacterial infections are treated with antibiotics and fungal (usually yeast) infections are treated with antifungals. Ear mites are treated with a medication that kills the mites. Cortisone-type drugs can help with inflammation. Ear infections caused by allergies or other medical conditions can require more time and commitment to diagnose and treat.


Your vet will most likely clean out your dog’s ears during the visit. Talk to your vet about the right way to clean your dog’s ears. Regular cleaning of your dog’s ears at home can prevent a lot of future problems. Put some ear cleaning solution into your dog’s ears, rub the base of the ear to dislodge the debris, and then wipe it out with cotton balls. Your dog will do some head shaking, which you can follow up with a towel drying. Cotton swabs can be used on the exterior folds of the ears, but never inside the ear, of course.


Check out this helpful article from for more information.



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Brian J. O’Donovan - April 14, 2018

My Corso has had ear infections for close to 4 years. He’s been shaking his head and scratching for most of that time. Vet has checked him and Rx a variety of meds. I’ve tried OTC options. Nothing works. I clean them weekly with a dry towel. It’s always covered in a brown, nasty color. Anything that makes his ears wet, makes him much more uncomfortable. I’ve changed his food multiple times. Nothing changes. Lately he walks around the house with his head hanging to one side. I’m helpless and feel so bad for him. I regret not having his ears cropped.

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