August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Ear problems are fairly common in dogs, especially dogs with floppy ears. Dogs with ear problems might scratch their ears, have smelly ears, and/or shake their heads.

Signs that Your Dog Needs to See a Veterinarian

  • Excessive ear debris (black/brown or yellow)
  • Constant scratching at the ears(s) and/or shaking of the head
  • Backs of ear(s) are irritated or are missing hair
  • Bleeding from the ear
  • Ears smell bad
  • Swelling of the ear
  • Ear(s) are sore or painful
  • Frequently tilts head to side

What You Can Do in the Meantime

  • If your dog allows it, you can use a moistened cotton ball to gently wipe debris out of the ears.
  • If the backs of your dog's ears are irritated and missing hair, you can gently apply some over the counter triple antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin®.

Common Cause of Ear Problems

  • Ear infection (otitis externa)

Treatment of Ear Problems

  • Regular cleaning of the ears with an ear cleaner recommended by a veterinarian.
  • If your dog has an ear infection, a medication applied directly into the ears may be prescribed.
  • If your dog has a severe ear infection, or if the backs of the ears are irritated and missing hair, oral antibiotics may be prescribed.
  • If your dog's ears are very sore, pain medication may be prescribed.

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