Causes, Signs And Treatments For Dog Ear Infections

by Shannon Lueck

The outer ear, middle ear and the inner ear are the three parts that make up an ear. The one most likely to get an infection is the outer ear. It is reported that about 90% of infections happen in the outer ear.

Infections of the outer ear canal are common among dogs. Dog ear infections, or Otitis Externa, occur frequently in dogs because of the way their ears are designed. The horizontal and vertical components of a dog's ear make it difficult for particles such as water or debris to drain out.

Signs that Your Dog Has an Ear Infection:

  • Your dog is constantly and excessively shaking its head.
  • There is yellow to brown discharge in your dog's ears.
  • Your dog's ears have a yeast-like smell.
  • There is redness and swelling on your dog's infected ear.

Possible Causes of Dog Ear Infection:

Dog ear infections are caused by a variety of things. However, allergies are the typical cause of dog ear infections. If your dog has allergies or is highly susceptible to allergies, your dog is likely to have ear infections.

Water getting into the ears is another common cause of ear infections among dogs. So if your dog likes to swim, it is prone to ear infections. This is because of the way your dog's ears are designed. When water gets inside your dog's ears, the water can't properly drain out. Thus, your dog's ears become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. This doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't allow your dog to swim or play in the water anymore. It just means that you should thoroughly dry your dog's ears after to prevent ear infections.

Cleaning Your Dog's Infected Ear:

Regardless of how much you take care of your dog's well being, your dog will most likely eventually have ear infections. When this happens, you need to know the correct way of cleaning your dog's ear before putting medication.

  1. Put a few drops of ear cleanser into your dog's infected ear.
  2. Next, gently rub or massage the ear to loosen any debris that is stuck in there.
  3. Using a soft cloth, gauze or cotton ball, gently scrape and wipe the dirt out of the infected ear.

Medicating Your Dog's Infected Ear:

After thoroughly cleaning your dog's infected ear, apply medication according to the veterinarian's instructions or the instructions found on the label.

Your dog's veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate treatment based on what has caused your dog's ear to become infected. For instance, if your dog's ear infection was caused by a yeast infection, the veterinarian will prescribe an anti-fungal medication. If the infection was caused by a bacteria, your dog will be prescribed antibiotics.

Medications for dog ear infections are typically applied directly into the ears. However, if your dog has a severe ear infection, the veterinarian may prescribe oral treatment. The veterinarian may also clip the hair around your dog's infected ear to allow more air to circulate in it. Surgery, for reconstructing the ear canal so that it drains better and easier, is the last recourse when topical and oral treatments have failed.

While all dogs are prone to ear infections, those belonging to breeds with large ears that flap over the outer ear canal as well as those breeds of dogs with very small ear canals are most susceptible. As a dog owner, it's your responsibility to take care of your dog's well being. Take proper care of your dog's ears and learn how to detect the early signs of ear infections.


Note: This section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.