Hearing difficulties in dogs

How to Know If My Dog Has an Ear Infection or Otitis

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: March 24, 2022
How to Know If My Dog Has an Ear Infection or Otitis
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Canine ear infections or otitis are one of the most common diseases in dogs. Dogs have a very developed and particularly sensitive sense of hearing. A sound that our ears may seem low volume, is loud to them, which is why we must pay special attention to the care of our dog's ears. If we observe that they never stop scratching their ears that they seem uncomfortable or even painful, and secrete more earwax lately than usual, your dog may have canine otitis, a dog ear infection, and you should go to the vet. If you want to know more about this disease to know if your dog has an ear infection, read this OneHowTo article.

You may also be interested in: How to treat canine otitis or ear infection


  1. What is canine otitis?
  2. Why does canine otitis occur?
  3. Symptoms of canine otitis
  4. Treatment for canine otitis
  5. How to prevent canine otitis?

What is canine otitis?

Canine otitis is the swelling of the ear either internal (not visible), middle ear (visible inside) or external (outer part of the ear). It can affect one of these parts or even all, in one ear or both. However, external otitis is the most common in dogs, this refers to inflammation of the epithelial lining, which is responsible for receiving sound waves, of the ear canal.

How to Know If My Dog Has an Ear Infection or Otitis - What is canine otitis?
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Why does canine otitis occur?

Canine otitis may occur for several reasons, besides the common causes are allergies, in atopic or adverse reactions to foods dogs can cause allergic processes that can affect the ear canal, causing otitis; bacteria, tap water is full of bacteria that, if not filtered, goes directly to our dog, ear infections by bacteria presents a reddening of the ears, abundant and smelly pus and wax; vermin, the most common is the mite, which spreads rapidly and causes irritation of your dog's ear and the appearance of brown or even black secretion, formed by earwax and blood, and a strong odour; foreign bodies, if you often go to certain areas of countryside with your dog, it may be approaching certain plants were seeds or pollen landed in their ears, causing canine otitis; the dog itself, excessive and abrupt scratching can cause trauma to the inner ear and lead to an ear infection (a fight with another dog may also be the cause); keratinisation disorders , dogs likely to have saborreicos disorders often have external otitis with plenty of cerumen (this happens especially in breeds like the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute).

How to Know If My Dog Has an Ear Infection or Otitis - Why does canine otitis occur?

Symptoms of canine otitis

To find out if your dog has canine otitis should look out for the symptoms. The Common symptoms dogs with otitis have are:

  • Frequent head shaking and scratching of the ears
  • If infection occurs only in one ear, the dog will turn toward the damaged side or, in the case of dogs with straight up ears, lower the affected ear
  • Increased cerumen
  • Yellowish, brown or black secretion
  • Red ear
  • Strong stale smell in ceruminous otitis or rotten smell in serious canine otitis
  • Appearance of pus
  • Changes in behaviour toward aggressive behaviour caused by pain
  • Hearing loss in severe otitis

If you notice your dog exhibits any of these symptoms, please go to the vet immediately.

How to Know If My Dog Has an Ear Infection or Otitis - Symptoms of canine otitis

Treatment for canine otitis

The veterinarian will diagnose canine otitis by the causes that have produced and give your dog the most appropriate treatment to cure it. In general, all treatments must follow the same steps and the first thing the vet will be an ear cleaning to facilitate the elimination of the cause. The products used for the ear cleaning also depend on what caused the infection and the stage it is at. For example, the vet may use a wash solution comprised of Ceruminolytic if the membrane is intact, or for antiseptic or dry cleaning if blood in the inflammation of the membrane.

Once the ear is clean, the veterinarian will prescribe a ear drops, specific to the type of otitis your dog is suffering from. You must apply it yourself every day, during a given period. Before giving your dog the drops, you must wipe the ear using the wash solution the vet gave you, gently massaging the ear of your dog for half a minute while washing, and drying as best you can to prevent water and the solution was left inside.

For serious canine otitis systemic route antibiotics are recommended, which may be oral or by injection, and continuing treatment one week after healing of canine otitis. Surgical intervention will only be required in cases of tumour or where the otitis has multiplied abundantly and quickly.

How to prevent canine otitis?

The best way to prevent canine otitis is performing an cleaning the ear canal on your dog once or twice a month. To clean your dog's ears, never use Q-tips or clean gauze. Prior to cleaning, double check its ear to make sure it has none of the above symptoms. If the ear is healthy, start by cleaning the outer ear with a towel moistened with warm water and the soap you normally use to bathe your dog. Clean out the ear making gentle circular motions. Then dry it well with another clean towel.

To clean the inner canal (visible inner part), use a clean gauze. Do not use antibiotics or otologics without veterinary advice. Simply cover your finger with gauze and enter it carefully, without reaching the bottom and walls clean your dog's ear.

For the inner part which isn't visible there specific products for the prevention of canine otitis, such as dry cleaners, you can find in your veterinarian.

If you want to read similar articles to How to Know If My Dog Has an Ear Infection or Otitis, we recommend you visit our Pets category.


  • It is very important to filter the water before giving it to drink our dog, since bacterial otitis may even cause hearing loss.
  • Do not use serum to clean your dog's ears, as it can stay inside the ear and create bacteria.
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How to Know If My Dog Has an Ear Infection or Otitis