Ear infections are common in dogs, particularly those that eat a low-quality diet with too many sources of carbohydrates and too little digestible protein. Mild ear infections are easily treated with medicated ear drops, but if left untreated can worsen to the point of permanently damaging the dog’s hearing and sense of balance. If you suspect that your dog may have an ear infection, see a veterinarian. Your vet can diagnose an ear infection definitively and prescribe treatment. To help you determine whether or not your dog should be seen for a possible ear infection, check this list of common symptoms.
Frequent headshaking in dogs is one ear infection symptom. Headshaking may also be caused by a foreign body in the ear, so be very careful if you attempt to look into the ear canal. Never insert objects like tweezers into the ear, even if you can see something lodged in the ear canal. A veterinarian should remove any foreign objects from the ear.
Headshaking may also occur simply because the ears are dirty or improperly groomed. If your vet says your dog’s ears are not infected but are itchy because they’re unclean, consider paying a reputable groomer to teach you to properly clean your dog’s ears and remove ear hair.
Infected ears often smell foul and yeasty. A waxy discharge may be visible in and around the ear. If you notice an unusual scent coming from your dog’s ears, an infection is likely. Clean the outside of the ear and the underside of the ear leather with a chemical-free baby wipe and schedule a vet’s appointment.
Severe ear infections, particularly in puppies, may cause balance problems. If your dog or young puppy wobbles or walks in circles, an ear infection should be suspected. Schedule a veterinary appointment immediately, as balance problems can also be a symptom of very serious neurological problems that need rapid treatment.
If your dog continually holds his head tilted to one side, he may have an ear infection. A persistent head tilt can also be a symptom of other serious health problems including certain tumors, so don’t assume it’s an ear infection–have a vet diagnose your dog.
Redness and Irritation
Red, irritated ears are often infected. A healthy ear should be pale pink with no hair in the ear canal and a minimum of wax and/or dirt buildup. If your dog’s ears are red and seem tender to the touch, an infection is possible.