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Does My Dog Have an Ear Infection?

Has your dog been scratching her ears lately? It could be a sign of an ear infection. Advanced cases of ear infections in dogs can be serious, so it’s important to get care for your pup right away. Read on to find out how you can identify an ear infection in your dog, treat it, and prevent it from happening again.

What Causes Ear Infections in Dogs?

There are several causes of ear infections in dogs, and it may not always be clear what initially caused the problem. Some dogs are more prone to this particular health issue because of the shape or design of their ears. Others may experience the problem be due to environmental causes.

A few of the more common causes of dog ear infections includes:

Trapped or Excess Moisture

Moisture can get trapped in your dog’s ear in a number of ways:

  • Excess hair can limit air flow – This is common among cocker spaniels, poodles, and bichons frises.
  • Floppy ears, like those of the basset hound, can cause moisture (or even debris) to become trapped.
  • Water from the pool or lake can get stuck, attracting yeast and bacteria.

Yeast and Bacteria 

Many ear infections are caused by yeast and bacteria build-up in the ear, but this is almost always due to another underlying issue, such as trapped water or moisture.

Ear Mites 

Ear mites, which are tiny creatures much like spiders, can cause quite a bit of discomfort for your pet, but if left unchecked, they can also result in ear infections. Appearing like coffee grounds, they’re much more common in puppies, but adult dogs can get them as well. Your dog can get them by socializing with other pups that already have an ear mite issue.


Just like people, dogs can be prone to allergies. Pit bulls, for example, tend to be more likely to have skin or ear infections that are related to allergies. Excess scratching and irritation from the initial allergy that causes an injury can also lead to infection.

Other Causes of Ear Infection in Dogs

A few other factors could cause your dog to develop an ear infection, including:

  • Health disorders, like hypothyroidism and viruses
  • Foreign bodies or objects – Grass is common, especially if your pup likes to roll around outdoors. Dogs with small ear canals or floppy ears can have more problems with debris.
  • Reactions to medications
  • Wax

white dog ears from the back

Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Dogs

There are several signs and symptoms your dog may have an ear infection or be close to developing one. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

  • Shakes her head
  • Odor around the ears –
  • Sensitivity
  • Pain
  • Excess scratching or rubbing at the effected ear
  • Discharge
  • Redness inside the ear
  • Lack of balance
  • Swelling
  • Scaly skin around the ear
  • Pawing at the ear

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it’s important to make an appointment with her veterinarian right away. It’s possible to catch the issue before it turns into an ear infection, and a visit can help identify any underlying causes of the potential infection.

How Are Dog Ear Infections Treated?

Ear infections in dogs can be diagnosed by a veterinarian. During the examination, your vet will ask you about any:

  • Allergies
  • Eating habits
  • Medications
  • Grooming habits
  • Recent activities

They’ll then check your dog for signs of an ear infection, including blood or swelling. They may take tissue samples to perform a culture. For extreme or chronic ear infection cases, your veterinarian might suggest X-rays or other tests. Blood tests may also be recommended to check if there are underlying issues.

The treatment your veterinarian prescribes depends on the cause of the infection. A cleaning will most likely be required, and antibiotics will be prescribed. The antibiotics may be topical, oral, drops, or a spray. Steroids, pain medication, and other ear medications may also be supplied. It’s usually recommended that you clean your dog’s ears at home before her check-up about a week later. Surgery may be required in extreme cases where the ear infection is chronic. If this is the case, your veterinarian may suggest removal of the ear canals.

Can A Dog’s Ear Infection Be Prevented?

You can absolutely take steps to prevent your dog from getting an ear infection! One grooming step that many dog owners forget or don’t realize is important is cleaning their ears. Whether you follow our step-by-step guide or bring your pup in for a grooming appointment, a thorough ear-cleaning can help keep ear infections and other issues at bay. It may also uncover other potential problems before they become more serious.

Regular veterinarian appointments are good for your pup’s ears as preventative care is always recommended, but you should also:

  • Regularly check your dog’s ears for irritation.
  • Take your dog to the vet if she shows any of the signs or symptoms of an ear infection.
  • Avoid moisture in her ears.
  • Use any prescribed cleaning solutions for your pet’s ears.

Ear infections, although common, have the potential to become serious in dogs. It’s important to treat ear irritation seriously and follow through with any medication your dog is prescribed. Ear cleaning is essential to helping your pup avoid ear infections, but if your dog shows any of the warning signs of an infection, it’s important to bring her to the vet right away.

Is your dog displaying signs of an ear infection? It’s time for a check-up! You can schedule an appointment with Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, TX by calling 281-693-7387.

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The Team @ Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital

Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital serves Katy, TX and the surrounding areas with a dedication and passion for our animal friends that is unmatched. Our veterinarians are highly trained, experienced, and compassionate when it comes to giving your pet the care they deserve. If your companion is in need of emergency care, a dental cleaning, grooming, or just a check-up, we would love to see them! Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment quickly and easily.

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