Ear discharge is a symptom of an underlying problem in dogs, such as mites or an ear infection.
There’s no reason to put your dog through unnecessary suffering because conditions like these can be excruciating. Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of dog ear problems, how to avoid them, and what to do if they occur.
Table of Contents
Dog Ear Discharge: Common Causes and Treatments
If your dog’s ears are painful when touched, if it’s tilting its head to one side, tripping or spinning to one side, pawing or scratching its ears, shaking its head, if the ear or ears are inflamed, or if there’s ear odor, it could be a sign of one of these frequent dog ear problems:
Ear mites are a type of ear mite that can be found in Ear mites, despite their small size, can be a major concern for dogs, especially younger ones. A crusty, blackish-brown ear discharge that looks like dried shoe polish is one symptom that your dog may have mites. Scratching and shaking of the head are two further symptoms.
There are numerous ear mite treatments available; some just kill adult mites, but newer medicines also kill eggs and immature forms. Treatment with these products is much easier, so see your veterinarian to determine which option is best for your dog.
Infection of the outer ear (otitis externa). An ear infection, which can be caused by allergies, mites, polyps, overproduction of ear wax, prolonged bathing or swimming (which might leave too much moisture in the ears), or other issues, can result in a waxy, yellow, or reddish-brown ear discharge. A foul or fruity odor from the ears, soreness, hot or inflamed ears, scratching, or head shaking are all indicators that your dog may have an ear infection.
A situation like this necessitates immediate attention from your veterinarian. An antibiotic, antifungal lotion, oral drug, ear-cleaning solution, or ear-drying solution may be used to treat an external ear infection. Chronic conditions may necessitate surgery.
Otitis interna (inner ear infection) or otitis media (middle ear infection) (otitis media). An untreated external ear infection can quickly progress to a highly severe middle or inner ear infection, both of which have symptoms that are similar to otitis externa, such as a reluctance to open the mouth or balance issues. Some dogs may become sick or walk in circles.
Antibiotics, ear flushing by your veterinarian, or surgery if the infection is severe are all possible treatments for middle or inner ear infections.
Ear Discharge in Dogs: Why You Should Talk to Your Vet
Pull your dog’s ears back gently and take a brief glance inside. A clear, pink ear canal should be visible. It’s time to see your veterinarian if you observe any discharge, redness, swelling, or odor. Ear disorders in dogs can cause extreme pain, hematomas (blood filling the ear flap), balance issues, and even hearing if left untreated.
Don’t try to guess what’s causing your dog’s ear discharge because it can be caused by a variety of things and have a variety of odors, colors, and consistency. Make an appointment with your veterinarian, who will determine the cause of your dog’s ear discharge and provide the best treatment options.
3 Steps for Applying Your Dog’s Ear Medication
You may need to use ear drops for a few weeks if your vet prescribes them to clear up your dog’s ear discharge. These brief hints will make life a little easier:
Make sure the ear drops are close by. Then, with your dog’s head steady, place your thumb between his eyes and nose, and wrap your fingers around his jaw. With a cotton ball and ear cleaning solution, lift your dog’s ear and clean away easy-to-reach wax. Don’t dig too deep or use cotton swabs since they can injure the ear canal or pack wax or debris against the eardrum.
Place the nozzle of the ear drops at the opening of your dog’s ear canal, angled toward their nose, while keeping your hold stable. Using your squirt gun, squirt in the required number of drops.
Spread the drops by folding your dog’s ear down and gently rubbing the cartilage at the base of the ear for 30 seconds, keeping your dog’s head still so it doesn’t shake out the medication.
Follow the veterinarian’s instructions to the letter: Certain medications may not be improved by cleaning the ear canal, while others may require more frequent dosing.
Preventing Ear Problems in Dogs
Dogs with drooping ears — basset hounds, Irish setters, spaniels — are more prone to ear problems, but any dog can have ear mites, develop an infection, or get an irritant like burrs or seeds stuck in their ears.
Preventing ear problems before they arise can allow your dog to live a long and happy life in the midst of the noise. When your dog’s ears get inflamed, the wax glands within expand and become more active, while the ear canal scars and narrows, increasing the likelihood of future issues. Follow these instructions to keep your dog’s ears healthy:
Every two weeks, look inside your dog’s ears for debris, odor, and foreign objects.
Keep your dog’s ears clean on the inside. Remove visible dirt with a cotton ball soaked in canine ear cleaning solution (don’t insert the cotton ball into the ear canal) or by gently cleaning the outer ear with a damp towel wrapped around your finger.
Ask your vet about medications that dry up the ear canal and prevent the formation of bacteria and yeast if your dog swims a lot or has ear infections frequently.