Ear problems in dogs range from allergies to infections. Ear Infections are the most common problem that dogs have with their ears.
If your dog has floppy ears that hang down, ear infections are often a continuing problem. The warm, moist environment created by the fold in the ear flap is ideal for the growth of bacteria. When yeast and bacteria accumulate they cause an unpleasant odor in the ears.
Dogs with ears that point straight up or those with short “perky” ears don’t have as many problems with ear infections. If you notice your dog vigorously rubbing one or both ears on the floor or carpet, it can be an indication of either an ear problem or simply the need to have its ears cleaned. If it’s an infection and confined to only one ear, your dog will tilt its head in an attempt to equalize pressure between the ears.
Some of the most common ear problems in dogs and the causes are:
(1) Debris in the ears.
Bristles that project from the tip of plants or even the grass from your lawn can easily become lodged in a dog’s ear. This debris can wedge itself quite deeply inside the ear so you’ll need to look inside the dog’s ear with a flashlight.
A common cause of problems with a dog’s ears is an allergic reaction which can be caused by ingredients in your dog’s food or environmental irritants such as pollen or dust. If you notice your dog’s ears or paws are itchy or inflamed, these are typical symptoms of an allergy. Your dog may be allergic to manufactured pet foods containing wheat, soy or corn. You can try switching to a better quality dog food and if that doesn’t help, you should ask your vet for a recommendation on which dog food to buy for your pet. If you suspect the problem is environmental, try to keep your pet away from grassy areas or lawns that may have recently been reseeded or fertilized. If your dog is an indoor pet and spends most of its time inside, check your air conditioning or furnace filters to see if they need replacing.
Ticks, mites and fleas can cause crusty skin, hair loss and swelling. Ear pain and itching due to parasites can cause serious ear problems in your dog.
Injury to your dog’s ear can cause a semi-solid mass of blood to collect in the tissues of the ear (called a hematoma) and fluid to accumulate between the cartilage and the skin of the ear flap. Vigorous scratching or shaking of the head can also cause trauma to the ears. Hematomas of the ear should be drained and surgically corrected by your vet because your dog’s ear will be permanently disfigured if not treated surgically.
(5) Hormone Disorders.
Certain hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism and adrenal malfunctions can also cause ear problems. Symptoms include excessive loss of hair, poor coat condition, changes in behavior and itchy, reddened skin around the ears.
In rare cases, some ear problems in dogs are hereditary such as connective tissue disorder affecting Collies and Shelties, or seborrhea which causes hair loss and scaly skin. Cancers such as squamous cell or malignant melanoma may also affect the ears.