Your Dog Has An Ear Infection? What To Know and What To Do.

October 10, 2020 5 min read

Chronic ear infections in dogs are quite common in dogs, especially in specific breeds such as basset hounds and cocker spaniels. When a dog has an ear Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take that can help prevent these infections. 

Does your dog have an ear infection?

Here are some symptoms to look out for: 

Signs Of Ear Infection In Dogs: 

  • Shaking head frequently
  • A strong odor from the ears
  • Dark, smelly discharge 
  • Red, irritated, and/or itchy ears
  • Scabs and/or hair loss around the ears from constant ear scratching
  • Constant head tilts that are not from a response of sound or sight 
  • Scales from the skin around the ear 
  • Frequently pawing at ears and/or whining 

Related: Does Your Dog Have Allergies? 

How Do Dogs Get Ear Infections: The 3 P’s

1. Primary

Environmental and food allergies are the most common reason why dogs get ear infections. About 97% of dogs get ear infections because of the following reasons

  • Foreign bodies, such as grass or other plants or flowers, getting into your dog’s ear
  • Parasites like ear mites can also be a cause of ear infections. 
    • Some symptoms of ear mites in your dog’s ear include scratching of their head, dark, crumbly discharge that closely resemble coffee grounds, as well as wounds and inflammation. 
  • Keratinization disorders are conditions that affect the surface appearance of your dog’s ear and can cause abnormalities in skin cell production, glandular production, and skin cell breakdown. 
  • Autoimmune disease can also be a source of ear infections. 
    • It is crucial that if you are concerned that your pup might have an autoimmune disease, that you bring them to the vet to do a biopsy. 

2. Predisposed 

Some dog breeds are more prone to ear infections due to the formation of their ear. For example: 

  • Moisture in the ear is also a common factor. 
    • If your dog swims or dives in the water and also has floppy ears, the water may be trapped in the ear canal, causing ear infections. 
  • Excess hair; frequent ear trimmings can help prevent infections.
  • If your dog had a prior ear infection and it was not handled properly, this can also create a more intense and vigorous infection


If you suspect that your dog is developing an ear infection or has chronic ear infections, it is essential to bring him to the vet. Doing this will prevent an ear infection from worsening and creating new issues. 

Three Forms of Dog Ear Infections: 

1. Otitis externa

Otitis externa refers to the inflammation of your dog’s outer ear canal. This type of infection is the kind that you can see on your dog’s ear. Unfortunately, 50% of dogs will have chronic otitis externa.

2. Otitis media

Otitis media is the infection of your dog’s middle ear.16% of dogs of otitis externa will have otitis media. 

    3. Interna media

    Interna media is the infection of the inner ear canal. This may occur if your dog has an infection of the middle ear (otitis media), and it is not resolved quickly. 

      Can You Get An Ear Infection From Dogs?

      A study at Texas A&M University found that there is a specific type of strain of ear infection called pseudomonas that can be contagious to humans and other pets in your home. If you suspect that your dog has pseudomonas, make sure to avoid going to the dog park. Check with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has this infection to avoid spread. 

      Otitis and interna media are much more severe and can lead to facial paralysis, vestibular signs, and deafness. 

      Dog Breeds That Are More Prone to Infection: 

      Long and Floppy Eared Dogs

      Dogs with long, floppy ears tend to trap dirt and moisture creating a moist environment where bacteria thrive and grow. 

      Breeds who have this issue is:

      Afghan Hound

      Basset Hound



      Bull Mastiff

      Cavalier King Charles

      Cocker Spaniel 

      Coon Hound


      Great Dane

      Great Pyrenees


      Saint Bernard

      Shih Tzu

      Springer Spaniel


      Water Dogs 

      Dogs that are bred to swim are prone to get ear infections as well because they love to swim and that tends to spend a lot of time in the water. Water accumulates in the ear and is unable to escape because of the shape of the ear canal of these dogs. The trapped water also creates a moist environment that bacteria and yeast can breed in. Yikes! 

      Breeds that love to swim: 

      Chesapeake Bay Retriever

      English Setter

      Golden Retriever

      Irish Setter

      Irish Water Spaniel

      Labrador Retriever


      Portuguese Water Dog 

      Hairy Ear Dogs 

      Dog’s ear hair is great because it can help keep debris out of their ears. 

      However, with some breeds, too much hair can also cause infections because it can trap extra debris, moisture, and dirt. 

      Breeds with hairy ears: 

      Bichon Frise

      Lhasa Apso




      Shih Tzu 

      Springer Spaniels

      Cocker Spaniels

      Cavalier King Charles Spaniels

      Whether or not your dog is on any of these lists, it is important that you frequently have your dog’s ears checked at the vet and/or cleaned consistently, especially after bathing, swimming, or rolling around in the dirt. 

      How To Treat Dog Ear Infections Naturally: 

      Listed below are natural and holistic remedies for your dog’s ear infections.

      1. Stop Feeding Kibble

        If your dog is eating a highly-processed diet of only dog kibble, this can cause extreme allergic reactions and other health issues. On a kibble only diet, your dog lacks the proper nutrition they need for a strong immune system. This is because kibble is not only high in carbohydrates, preservatives, but also other processed ingredients.

        Switching to a raw diet will allow their immune system to be stronger and be able to fight infections. 


        2. Witch Hazel

          Witch hazel is an astringent that is commonly used as a natural topical remedy. This is because it helps with decreasing any type of swelling in the ear canal, which can also help relieve any pain that your dog might have. There is alcohol in this product, so if your pup has any sores or cuts on their ear from them scratching the area, avoid this product.

          3. Green Tea

            Doctor Michael Dym, a homeopathic veterinarian, recommends using green tea bags.

            1. Boil 8oz of water and adding two green tea bags 

            2. Steep the tea bags for a few minutes

            3. Add some cold water to make sure the temperature of the tea is lukewarm.

            4. Use a sponge or syringe to put some of the green tea solutions into your dog’s ear canal

            These remedies are not recommended in lieu of going to the veterinarian if you believe that your dog’s infection is severe. Instead, it is more of a way to soothe the ear infection while you are trying to find the root of the cause.