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Dog Ear Infections – Look through the Otoscope

Every day, veterinarians encounter canine patients with some form of dog ear infection. These infections can be caused by bacteria, fungus, or parasites, and sometimes infections can be caused by a foreign body such as foxtail.

Let’s Talk About the Anatomy of a Dog’s Ear

A dog’s ear can be divided into four different parts:

  • Pinna (or ear flap, or auricle)
  • External ear canal
  • Middle ear
  • Internal ear

There are more than a dozen muscles just for controlling the movement of the ear. The ears are very rich with blood vessels and nerves that are highly sensitive. In many occasions, excessive scratching or head shaking can lead to damaging a blood vessel which can result in filling the ear flap with blood. This condition needs to be corrected surgically.

What You Need To Know About Dog Ear Infections

When a dog has an ear infection it is very noticeable. There are 3 types of ear infection in dogs: otits externa, otitis media, and otitis interna, affecting different types of the ear. Sometimes, infections can spread to multiple parts of the dog’s ear.


Otitis externa refers to the outer part of the ear, and otitis media and interna are infections of the middle and inner ear most likely as a result of untreated infection of the outer ear that spread.

Symptoms of Dog Ear Infections

The symptoms of a dog ear infection are very obvious and they can include the obvious head shaking and scratching, foul odor, head tilting, scaling of the skin, redness, and swelling, dark smelly discharge etc.
The most common culprits for dog ear infections are bacteria, yeast, viruses, ear mites, allergies, foreign bodies, hormonal disbalance, autoimmune diseases (such as Pemphigus), injuries, meningitis, encephalitis, and others.

Every dog ear infections need to be precisely diagnosed in order to prescribe the correct treatment. Some ear infections are so severe that they require system medications, but some can be treated with antibiotics or antimycotic drops.

Common Reasons for Dog Ear Infections

Ear infections in dogs may look more like a bacterial infection in one ear, and a yeast infection in the other. This is because an ear infection can be caused by either yeast or bacteria.

You need to figure out what is causing the pain in your dog’s ears, and treat it accordingly. This article will help you identify the type of ear infection your dog has, and give you some methods for treating it at home.

Your dog’s ears should be checked regularly, so that you can catch an infection and treat it before it is too late.

There are many different causes of ear infections. Some common reasons for ear infections in dogs include:

  • a dirty or smelly environment (dirty bedding, soiled areas, etc.);
  • overheating;
  • swimming in dirty water;
  • lots of accumulated ear wax/dirt;
  • trauma (caused by falling for example); or even an allergy.

Bacterial infections will usually cause a very bad odor, but it is not always the case. Similarly, yeast infections can start to smell really bad too.

Avoid The Following Hygiene Mistakes:

Not cleaning your dog’s ears properly, especially if they get dirty;

Wearing earrings for dogs (these can become clogged);

Not visiting the vet regularly. You should see them every six months for a check-up, and they will also give you tips on how to care for your veterinarian’s ears.

Dirty or smelly environments can make it easier for bacteria to stick in there and turn it into an infection.

In the video below, you can see several different types of ear infections.

If you want to learn more about the diagnostics of dog ear infections read “How to use an otoscope” on our blog.

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