German Shepherd Dog

Ear Infections are Painful!

– by Sheri Huttner

In my grooming shop, I come into contact with many, many dogs. Not a day goes by where I don’t see at least one dog with an ear infection.

The majority of times, the infections are found in “drop ear” dogs such as Poodles, Spaniels, and Bichons. I rarely see ear infections in dogs with perky, erect ears such as Yorkies, Chihuahuas, and Scotties. The reason for this is that air does not circulate into the ears of drop-ear dogs. Also, in long-haired dogs, hair grows inside the ears, and when it accumulates, even less air gets in. The ears become a perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

The signs of an ear infection are usually very obvious. An accumulation of brown debris is a sure sign that something is wrong. The debris will be accompanied by a strong, foul odor; another sure sign of infection, even if you don’t see any debris. Sometimes the ear leather (the underside of the dog’s ear) looks dry and flaky. In many cases, the dog will frequently shake his head and scratch his ears. That’s because ear infections itch and HURT! With a severe infection, the dog might flinch and even cry out when you touch his ear.

Pet stores sell various ear medications, but there are many types of infections. In the long run, you can save your dog from unnecessary suffering by taking him to your vet who will diagnose the infection and provide the proper medicine. The vet will also determine if the problem is being caused by ear mites, in which case he’ll give you drops containing antibiotic and insecticide. Whatever medicine he gives you, it’s crucial to follow his instructions and complete the course of treatment to prevent a recurrence. Recurring ear infections are very common.

Of course, prevention is the best medicine. From the day you get your dog, you should check his ears regularly for excessive dirt or unusual odor. Hair that grows inside the dog’s ear canal is very easy to pull out. You can ask your vet or groomer to show you how it’s done. If you start doing this when your dog is a pup, he shouldn’t give you a hard time.

A healthy ear is pale pink and has no odor. A little bit of wax or dirt in the outer portion of the ear canal is perfectly normal. This can be carefully removed with a piece of gauze or a Q-tip. You should never stick a Q-tip inside the ear canal. Only clean what you can easily see. Your vet or groomer can also show you how to clean your dog’s ears.

By keeping your dog’s ears clean and healthy, you can avoid having him suffer from a painful infection.

  Reprinted with permission from Sheri Huttner of

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