Does My Dog Have An Ear Infection?

February 17, 2023
Amber LaRock - LVT & Vetted Vet Pro

Unfortunately, ear infections are very common in our beloved companions. Ear infections bring dogs around the world to the vet each day, and up to 20% of dogs are believed to have some form of ear disease. Due to the high likelihood that your pup could suffer from an ear infection at some point, it’s important to be aware of the signs and symptoms!

Our team at Vetted wants to empower you through education on your little one’s health, so let’s introduce you to all the details surrounding ear infections in dogs. We’ll discuss some of the most common causes of canine ear infections, the symptoms to be on the lookout for, and what you should do if you suspect an ear infection in your pup. 

Before we move forward, we suggest downloading the Vetted app so you can have access to our pet parent guidance center! This is our chat platform that allows you to speak with veterinary professionals 24/7, so you can reach out to us with any further questions about your dog’s ear infection!

What Causes An Ear Infection In Dogs?

If ear infections are so common in dogs, then what causes them? We want to help you get to the bottom of your dog’s painful ears, so let’s discuss some of the potential factors behind these painful ear infections!

(While the only way to better understand the cause of your dog’s ear infection is by having them assessed by a vet, we can offer a few examples of the potential underlying factors below.)

Earwax buildup: If your little one has too much wax in their ears, this can make them more prone to ear infections. Excess earwax can trap foreign debris and fluid within the ear, and this can create an ideal environment for bacteria to brew. 

Moisture in the ears: Bacteria and yeast thrives in moist environments, and especially in a dark and warm place like the ear canal! If a dog’s ears are moist for long periods due to any reason, this can lead to a painful ear infection. 

Excess fur in the ear canal: Just as ear wax buildup can trap debris and liquid within the ear, so can excess fur in the ear canal. Not only can fur within the ear trap debris and ear fluid, but it can even lead to inflammation of the tissue in some cases. 

Canine allergies: Allergies are the main culprit behind so many canine ear infections. Chronic skin allergies cause inflammation of the dog’s skin, and this can lead to excess ear wax and fluid production within the ear. Inflamed ears are much more prone to painful infections. 

Ear mites: Ear mites are not only irritating in themselves, but they can increase the risk of ear infections in dogs. The constant biting of the ear mites can lead to ear canal inflammation, and this creates a perfect environment for bacteria to multiply.

Ear foreign bodies: If something is trapped inside of your dog’s ear that does not belong, then this can cause serious problems. Not only can wax buildup around this foreign object, but its presence can lead to pain and inflammation. Ear foreign bodies can include everything from blades of grass to small bugs. 

Cleaning the ears too often: While excess ear wax can be harmful to dogs, so can having too little! Cleaning your dog’s ears too often can strip the ears of their natural defenses, and make them much more susceptible to infections. This is why we only suggest cleaning your dog’s ears once a month, or even twice a month if your pup is prone to excessive wax buildup. 

If you need some help in determining how often you should clean your dog’s ears, you can reach out to our Vet Pros on the Vetted app for guidance at any time!

What Are The Signs Of An Ear Infection In Dogs?

Now that you are aware of the most common causes of ear infections in dogs, let’s list some of the symptoms you should be on the lookout for! We suggest checking your dog’s ears weekly for any of the symptoms we list below. 

  • Redness of the ears and around the ears
  • Moisture around the ears
  • Odor coming from the ears
  • Head shaking
  • Pawing at the ears and face
  • Rubbing the sides of their face on the ground
  • Ear sensitivity, even crying out when the ears are touched
  • Ear discharge, brown, yellow, or even bloody
  • Sores around the ears due to scratching

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your little one, then we suggest reaching out to your pet’s care team for guidance. Ear infections are very painful, so you never want your dog to endure these symptoms for extended periods. 

What Should I Do For My Dog’s Ear Infection?

We know how worried you are about your dog’s painful ears, so you are likely wondering how you can best help them. Unfortunately, ear infections in dogs cannot be treated at home, and they will often worsen without proper medical care. 

If there is any evidence of an ear infection in your little one, then we always suggest reaching out to your veterinary care team for further guidance. Ear infections in dogs are extremely painful, so you will want to get to the bottom of their discomfort as soon as possible. 

As always, our Vet Pros are here to answer any questions about your pup’s potential ear infection! We can also point you in the direction of our at home ear infection testing kit, so be sure to send us a message at any time using the Vetted app!