Ear Infections in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment [Article]

Wag News, last updated 12th, Sep 2014, Neha Manchanda

Dog ears

A dogs ears is one of the sharpest and most sensitive of all giving them the best auditory sense. Our dogs have the habit of frolicking in dirt and water and tend to catch ear infections. One of most common problems that most dogs face is an ear infection. Ear infections are of two types - Otitis Externa and Otitis Media. These are clinical symptoms and not diseases. The ear infections can inflict dogs and cats of any age. However, dogs with long ears such Cocker Spaniels, Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Basset Hounds and dogs with hairy external canals such as Terriers and Poodles are highly susceptible to ear infections.

Otitis Externa is defined as the chronic inflammation of the external ear of the dog whereas Otitis Media is defined as the inflammation of dog’s middle ear canal.

Ear Infection Causes:

Otitis Externa can be caused due a number of factors especially when there is a change in the environment.  The change in the environment  can cause the glands in the ear to enlarge and produce excessive wax in the ear. As the wax buildup increases the ear canal tends to become narrow and can cause pain, itching and redness in the external ear. 

Otitis Media happens when otitis externa has not been treated on time and the infection extends to the inner ear. If the inflammation is too high chances are that the inner ear membrane can rupture.

Other reasons may include food or drug allergies, accumulation of hair, dead skin buildup and / or autoimmune diseases. Some of the other factors that may cause the onset of the inflammation are bacterial or fungal infections, improper cleaning of ear and excessive moisture that may be due to swimming or bathing.

Ear Infection Symptoms:

Both Otitis Externa and Otitis Media can cause extreme discomfort to dogs. Some of the common symptoms that may help you identify if your dog has an ear infection are:

  • Pain in the ear
  • Tender ear - especially when touched
  • Constant shaking of head as if warding off water
  • Scratching external ear or trying to scratch inside the ear
  • Foul odour inside the ear
  • Redness of the inner ear
  • The inner flap of the ear may be scaly
  • Obstruction in the ear canal
  • Some dogs may have swelling in the external ear canal

In case the infection has developed into Otitis Media, you may notice the following classical symptoms in your dog:

  • Tilting of the head in one side of the head
  • Onset of anorexia or loss of appetite
  • Occasional vomiting

Ear Infection Diagnosis:

In case your dog is showing any of the symptoms, do visit the vet immediately and seek medical advice.  The vet may check for all signs and may advise X Ray or blood analysis to determine how serious the inflammation is.

Ear Infection Treatment:

Once the vet determines the extent of the inflammation, he would suggest the treatment accordingly. Generally both of the inflammations can be treated as an outpatient care unless the inflammation has spread to the inner ear. The vet may advise:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti inflammatory medicines
  • Cleaning routine
  • Ear drops to calm the irritation in the ear


It is imperative that regular follow up is carried out till the inflammation is resolved. You will have to be very careful and monitor your dog’s ear regularly and clean them regularly to avoid the recurrence of the inflammation. In case left untreated, your dog may become deaf or may develop uncoordinated movements due to wax buildup.

Do follow DogSpot.In's ear care product line https://www.dogspot.in/ear-care/  to select the best product for your pooch!

Image courtesy: Blog.reorbit

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"An ardent writer, a devoted pet parent and a foodie at heart, I believe life is all about new experiences and expressions"

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