Dogs communicate with their ears in the same way people communicate with their eyebrows. But no matter how attentive you are to your pup’s changes in mood and expression, it can be easy to miss what’s right under your nose: threats to their ear health.

Have you noticed your dog scratching at their ear or shaking their head? They may have an ear issue. In fact, issues can affect any part of the dog’s ear, from the fuzzy exterior to the ear canal to the middle and inner ear.

In this short guide, we’ll cover the most common dog ear problems and the best methods for treating them.

Ear Issues, Inside and Out

As a pet parent, it helps to be informed. While you may not be able to diagnose and treat your pup’s ear issues on your own, getting acquainted with the major health threats to canine ears equips you with the information you need to properly care for your dog.

Common dog ear problems include:

  • General outer ear irritation – Also known as ear-edge dermatitis, there are a variety of things that can cause ear inflammation and irritation to a dog’s outer ear.1
  • Yeast infection – Often the result of an underlying condition, the overgrowth of yeast can irritate your dog’s outer ear, resulting in an ear wax discharge and scabbing.2
  • A Bacterial ear infection is due to trapped moisture – While dogs have naturally occurring bacteria in their ears at any given moment, trapped moisture can cause excess bacteria that result in an ear infection in dogs. Visit Vetericyn today for common dog ear infection symptoms to look out for. 
  • Infections stemming from allergies – Like humans, dogs can have food and seasonal allergies. Allergies weaken the immune system. With the immune system weakened, bacteria are able to grow freely. In time, this can lead to an ear infection.
  • Presence of a foreign object – Grass seeds and foxtails are dangerous to dogs. The seeds get caught in the ear and burrow into the skin with effects that range from discomfort to deafness.3
  • Ear mite – Tiny bugs from the spider family can take up residence in your dog’s ears, causing discomfort.4 

Because these issues are irritating and uncomfortable, your dog may also scratch and claw at their ears, leading to further damage.

So, how do you know if your dog is suffering from one of these issues? Let’s take a look.

cute jack russell dog lying on bed listening with funny ear

Signs of Dog Ear Problems to Look For

While not every ear problem is easily visible, paying close attention to your dog’s ears and behavior can reveal potential issues.

Some of the symptoms your dog might exhibit when experiencing ear irritation are:

  • Problems with balance – If your dog is stumbling or swaying more than usual, this could be a sign of an ear problem.
  • Ears that smell bad – While many dogs love to nose around in garbage and other stinky substances, a foul odor coming from the ear could be a sign of an infection.
  • Discharge from the ears – Any sort of ear discharge should be considered a serious health concern. 
  • Vigorous and constant ear scratching – Is your dog scratching their ears more than usual? They could be telling you they have an ear problem.
  • Rubbing their head on surfaces – Similar to excessive scratching, your pup may rub their head on furniture, door frames, or your leg to get relief from their itching ears.

At the end of the day, if your dog is suffering from an ear problem, taking them to your veterinarian to inspect the affected ear and getting the proper ear medication is essential. There’s no replacement for a professional opinion.

Preventing Ear Issues

While dog ear problems can be treated, you can also take preventive measures to reduce the likelihood of issues.

Here are some of the essentials for preventing dog ear problems:

  • Routine Inspection – If caught early enough, an ear infection can be stopped in its tracks, saving you money and your dog discomfort. Inspect your dog’s ears during your regular cuddles and playtime.
  • Keep the Ears Ventilated and Dry –  Your dog’s ear canal has an L-shaped formation that makes for better hearing, but also poorer ventilation. After a bath, swim, or walk in the rain, residual moisture can get trapped in the ear canal, often resulting in bacterial growth. Help your dog by toweling them off after exposure to moisture.
  • Establish a Cleaning Routine – Give your dog a routine ear cleaning to ensure healthy ears. Integrate this into bath time, and be sure to choose an antimicrobial ear cleaner that combats yeast and bacteria.The guy is scratching dog's neck and talking to him while this labrador is listening to what his owner says

Vetericyn’s Solution for Ear Health

Our dogs can encounter ear problems from passing irritation to a serious bacterial infection. Regularly checking and cleaning your pet’s ears can help increase their chances of comfort and long-term health.

Are you looking to give your dog’s ears a wash? Check out our Vetericyn Plus® Antimicrobial Ear Rinse for all your ear-cleaning needs. Our non-irritating, nontoxic formula is designed to fight yeast, remove foreign material, and soothe pups’ ears. Integrate the rinse into your regular bathtime routine or use it when the first signs of irritation arise.


  1. DVM 360. Ear edge dermatitis: Look beyond scabies
  2. Fetch by WebMD. Yeast Infection in Dogs’ Ears: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention.
  3. Fetch by WebMD. Foxtail Grass and Your Dog.
  4. American Kennel Club. Ear Mites In Dogs: What Owners Need To Know.
  5. National Library of Medicine. Anatomy and physiology of the canine ear.
  6. Washington State University. Examining and Medicating the Ears of a Dog.


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