How to Detect & Prevent Ear Infections in Dogs

Low-grade otitis (inflammation of the ear) is a common ailment that can be difficult for owners to detect. It’s especially common among floppy-eared dogs, whose moist ear canals provide a comfortable breeding ground for bacteria, yeast, and fungus.

The earlier an ear infection is detected, the more your veterinarian can do to minimize its impact on your dog. Look for the following signs:

A brown, odourous discharge in your dog’s ears. This substance is produced when the ear’s wax glands become overactive and inflamed, and often results in that unpleasant “doggy smell.”

An unusual reaction to an ear rub. If your dog leans his ear into your hand to increase the pressure as you rub, or if he flinches when you approach his ears, he may have an ear infection.

Frequent shaking and scratching for no obvious reason.

Preventing an ear infection is even better than detecting one early on. Excessive ear cleaning can cause inflammation, but occasional cleaning is fine. Use a veterinarian-approved ear cleaner on a cotton ball or soft cloth (not a cotton swab), wiping only the accessible part of the ear. Above all, make sure your dog’s ear canals are dried thoroughly after an ear cleaning or bath, as moisture encourages the growth of infection-causing organisms.