What Are the Signs of a Dog Ear Infection?


A dog ear infection is unfortunately quite common, especially if you have a breed that’s prone to them. So how can you spot one? Knowing the signs and symptoms is a great way to make sure you can take your dog to the vet when needed. If left untreated, ear infections can escalate into something quite painful for your pup.

The dog’s ear canal is more vertical than a human’s and has an “L” shape that traps more fluid. Because of this, dogs are more prone to ear infections than we are.

Ear infections can happen in one or both ears and can turn up in many different parts of the ear. Luckily, most infections get caught before they get serious, and treating them is typically pretty easy.

Dog Ear Infection Risk Factors

Dogs that frequently swim, especially in rivers and lakes, are more likely to get ear infections than dogs that don’t. Dogs with allergies and thyroid disorders are also more prone.

Dogs with floppier ears tend to be more prone to ear infections caused by yeast, as the ears folds trap more moisture. Dogs with hair growing in the inner ear canal are also more susceptible.

Because of this, breed is a huge determining factor. The following breeds of dogs are especially prone to ear infections:

  • Pit Bulls
  • Poodles
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • Sharpeis
  • Basset Hounds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Schnauzers
  • Boxers

Causes and Prevention for Dog Ear Infections

Infections can have a multitude of causes, from objects stuck in the ear to wax build-up to parasites, viruses, and hairs. Dogs at a higher risk often get ear infections pretty easily. Often, wax and discharge allow yeast and bacteria to cultivate, causing infection.

If your dog is particularly prone or has gotten infections in the past, It’s essential that you clean your dog’s ears to prevent infection. Cleaning your dog’s ears should focus on removing that wax and discharge without harming your dog’s ear.

How often you need to clean your dog’s ears depends on breed and their activities. Dogs that swim need their ears cleaned more frequently than dogs that don’t.  Talk to your vet about the best option for you and your dog. Every dog is different in this regard!

Signs of Dog Ear Infection

Your Dog is Scratching Their Ears

The occasional ear scratch isn’t anything to bat an eye at, but if your dog is scratching her ears more than usual, it’s a very common sign of an ear infection. Your dog can also really hurt herself if she’s scratching her ears too much, causing wounds and worsening the infection.

Your Dog Keeps Shaking or Tilting Their Head

When your dog continuously shakes his head from side to side, his ears might be painful and itchy. It’s a way of scratching the itch. You’ll often find this shaking is a bit more forceful than his typical head shakes as well.

Your Dog is Sliding Their Head on the Rug

If you have rough-textured blankets, rugs, or even a lawn, your dog might start to find some creative ways to take care of his itching problem. They often slide their heads on the carpet to satisfy the infection’s constant itch. Many pets who roll around on the rug end up with eye or skin issues on top of the infection.

Your Dog’s Ears Are Red and Inflamed

Redness, inflammation, and swelling are clear signs something’s not right. The insides of the ears may look painful and off-color. If you notice this symptom, it’s a good idea to get your pup to the vet ASAP.

Your Dog’s Ears Smell

One of the most unpleasant signs of infection for a dog’s human friends is unpleasant-smelling ears. Often, ear infections stink. Fungal and bacterial infections can be especially potent, often with a vinegary or earthy smell.

It’s important to note that smell isn’t always a sign of infection, but it’s definitely worth looking into regardless. There’s no harm in being cautious when it comes to the safety of your furry companion.

Your Dog’s Ears Are Leaking

A surefire sign of infection is that your dog’s ears have leaky discharge. You may also see discharge and debris within the ear, often brown or black if it’s a yeast infection. Sometimes, this discharge will only be noticeable to your vet, who can see farther back in the ear.

When to Make an Appointment for Dog Ear Infections in Concord, NC

You should schedule an appointment at any clear sign of an ear infection. This way, you can get ahead of the infection before it gets more painful. Your vet will help get rid of the infection and likely give you an ear wash to use to protect your pup from future ones.

Ear infections can be a real pain for dogs. Recognizing the signs and taking steps to prevent them can make a world of difference for your dog. If your dog does have an ear infection, get it taken care of as quickly as possible. Give your vet a call today!