Your Dog's Ears

Written by: Alison Laurie, Senior Consultant, Crown Vets Inverness

Clean, odour free, comfortable, pale pink ear canals with a minimal accumulation of debris and wax are an indication of healthy ears in your dog.

Do check your pet's ears regularly for:

  • Any unpleasant odour
  • Excessive scratching and pawing of the ears and the head area
  • Constant tilting and shaking of the head and holding head to one side
  • A smelly black or yellow ear discharge
  • Redness of the ear flap skin or ear canal
  • Swelling of the ear flap
  • Sensitivity when handled around ear/head area
  • Changes in behaviour: irritability, listlessness
  • Dull hearing
  • Loss of balance and disorientation

Some dog breeds are much more susceptible than others of ear disease; these include dogs with heavy, pendulous ears or dogs with hairy ear canals. Dogs with ongoing general skin allergies are also at risk.

Infection of the external ear canal ‘Otitis Externa’ can be caused by bacteria, yeasts or secondary to an ear mite infestation. Other possibilities include a heavy accumulation of wax, matted hair and debris, or any foreign body material lodged within the external ear canal. If you think you dog may have an external ear canal infection this can cause considerable discomfort and should be treated quickly. Do arrange for a check -up for your dog. After an examination and a careful aural examination with an auroscope our Vet will then advise on the best course of treatment for your individual pet. Treatments are varied for each individual case and can involve an ear cleaning solution, medicated ear drops, anti-inflammatory treatments and antibiotic treatments. Swabs can be taken from your dog's ear canal to determine the exact cause of an ear problem and the best course of treatment advised. Occasionally if the ears are very painful to examine or they are full of heavy wax and debris, sedation or full anaesthesia is then advised to allow a full ear canal flush and clean and application of ear treatments.

If you are concerned about any of the above symptoms and you feel that your dog does have uncomfortable ears, this can be a very painful condition and if left this can cause severe, debilitating chronic ear disease, so do arrange for an appointment as soon as you recognise any of these symptoms.