Most Common Ear Problems in Dogs

Most Common Ear Problems in Dogs

What Causes Ear Problems?

Ear infections, problems, and diseases are caused by the buildup of excessive bacteria and yeast inside the ear, or by disease-causing organisms that “overtake” the good bacteria in the ear.

Moisture is most often the culprit to an infected ear. That, and foreign bacteria (i.e. from river water, swamps, wild animals), make their way into the outer part of your dog’s ear and start to multiply in that damp environment. Certain breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, King Charles Cavaliers, and Poodles are infamous for getting ear infections because of their floppy ears and excess ear hair.

In this article, we will examine the most common types of ear problems in dogs, and give you a few recognizable signs to develop an eye or ear for identifying them.

Three Types of Ear Infections in Dogs

First of all, there are three types of ear infections in dogs: otitis externa, otitis media, and otitis interna.

Otitis Externa

Deals with outer ear infections, which manifests through a variety of symptoms including discharge, foul odor, and inflamed or swollen ears. This is the most common and least harmful type of ear infection.

Otitis Media

This is a case where the middle of the ear becomes infected just behind the eardrum. Usually, otitis media is the continuation of an infection from the outer ear that has moved further into the canal. It is starting to become more of a threat.

Otitis Interna

Otitis media is an infection of the inner ear, which directly affects balance and coordination. This is the part of the ear that is related to motion sickness and other types of equilibrium issues in dogs. Inner ear issues tend to be quite serious, especially if they have been caused by an outer ear infection that has moved all the down. Untreated, inner ear infections can cause permanent loss of hearing and irreversible nerve damage.

Most Common Ear Problems

Staphylococcus Bacteria

This is a type of bacteria that affect your dog in various places on his body and can generate common ear infection symptoms such as redness, swelling, and foul odors. Bacterial infections generally show up also through a yellow, waxy substance in the ear.


This is a type of yeast that is found in all the moist places on your dog’s body – the rectum, between the toes, the reproductive area, and the ear canals. It is the overgrowth of this yeast caused by excessive moisture without enough air circulation that results in an ear infection. Management of this yeast includes trimming long, excess hair in the ears, and making sure floppy ears get enough regular airflow to the inside.

Also, Malassezia does not necessarily have to start in the ears. It could be localized in another part of your dog’s body, say in the rectum area, which could cause itchy skin and irritation. The scratching, pawing and/or licking of this area could cause the yeast infection to spread to other parts of the body, including the ears.


This is a group of bacteria that cause ear infection, and most noticeably can be identified by the fluid it creates in the ear. Look for swollenness/redness in the ear and unusual fluid.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are microscopic eight-legged parasites that live inside the ear. Otodectes is the name for the type of ear mites most commonly found in dogs. Mites are passed extremely easily between animals, so be sure to check your dogs if he has been playing with another animal that is known to have ear mites.


Keeping the ears clean is a good thing. But, the procedures of cleaning the ear can vary. Pay close attention to your vet’s advice on what is harmful and what is helpful.  

General Cleaning

Put a few drops of oil or ear cleaning solution in your dog’s ear, place a cotton ball in the canal opening, and gently massage his ear. The key here is to be gentle with your animal, and allow whatever is in the ear to fall out easily onto the cotton ball. Using q-tips only pushes debris further back into the canal, and creates a risk of damaging the inner ear.

Medical Treatments

There are plenty of over-the-counter treatments and prescription solutions that can assist your dog’s infected ear. Consult your vet before applying any type of cleaning, as certain kinds are more suitable for specific cases of ear infections.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *