Just like humans, our dog’s ears sometimes get a little infected. Naturally, it’s worrisome to see our pupper in any sort of discomfort, so it’s important to know all the things regarding ear problems that can affect your dog. One, to ease your mind. And two, to look out for symptoms that may turn a mild irritation into a painful ear infection.

Dog Ear Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments


Listen, our dogs can go a little crazy sometimes. You know, digging into the trash, rolling around in the mud, but those sort of things don’t typically trigger ear infections. In fact, ear infections are rarely a sign that your dog is dirty, or needs to be cleansed excessively.

Basically, a dog’s ear canal isn’t shaped like a human’s. It’s vertical and forms a sort of L-shape that makes fluid a bit harder to escape – which is what makes dog ear infections so common. Whether they’re a puppy or a senior, it’s all the same. Bacteria build-up and/or yeast build-up makes the perfect recipe for your pupper’s ears to become infected.

If your dog has any pre-existing conditions like an autoimmune disorder, thyroid disease, or allergies – they may be much more prone to ear infections than those without pre-existing conditions. 

Ear infections in dogs are a common thing, and there are ultimately three types that occur.

  • Otitis Externa: The most common form of ear infection, where inflammation primarily affects the external ear canal. So if you can see it, it’s most likely externa.
  • Otitis Media: Refers to an infection in the middle ear structure. While not a huge red flag, media can lead to an interna infection.
  • Otitis Interna: An infection or inflammation that impairs the vestibulocochlear nerve, which conveys sensory impulses to your dog’s hearing and balance. 

It’s important, as always, to learn how to prevent any of these infections from happening. Unfortunately, both media and interna infections have the potential to be very serious, and can even lead to facial paralysis and deafness.


If your dog is having any symptoms below, call a vet and nip it in the bud before any sort of problem has the potential to arise.

  • Crusting or scabbing ear flaps
  • Red and/or swollen  ear canal
  • Scratching at the affected ear
  • Head shaking
  • Itchiness
  • Dark discharge
  • Odor

Each dog is different, and some may not even have the symptoms above. Always keep an eye out for any changes in behavior to your dog – they may be trying to tell you something is wrong.

How to Treat with Natural Remedies

Most ear infections in dogs last around a week or two after you begin the treatment of choice. So once you know your dog’s ear is infected, it’ll most likely be healed in that timeline.

Natural remedies you can try at home:

  • Green Tea: A natural anti-inflammatory. Steep a teabag into hot water and let cool to a lukewarm temperature. Grab a sponge and gently squeeze to clean your dog’s ear.
  • Oil of Oregano: Oil of Oregano is universal, great natural remedy for infection, as it’s a natural antibiotic. One drop will do with this stuff, it’s very strong. Mix one drop with a little bit of water and soak a cotton ball. With the cleaning solution, gently dab the ear.
  • Vinegar & Water: Vinegar is for itching. Just like Oil of Oregano, mix with a bit of water and soak in a cotton ball. Gently dab the mixture while you’re cleaning the ear.

While natural remedies aren’t going to make the infection going away, it can absolutely relieve symptoms.

Over The Counter (OTC) Remedies

It’s extremely important to follow your vet’s instructions carefully and finish the full course of any medication given to your dog. Just like humans, if your dog’s dosage gets cut off too soon, it could lead to the infection coming back, or worse, chronic ear infections. 

After talking with a vet, you’ll know if antibiotics are going to help your dog or not. If this infection leans on the bacterial side, you’ll be going with over the counter remedies.

Turns out there is actually a huge winner when it comes to OTC remedies for dog ear infections. The winner? Hydrocortisone.

Hydrocortisone is a topical ointment both dogs and humans can use to help heal our skin. In fact, Zymox is pretty much the most popular one you can find.

Go into any pet store and you’ll see it shining back at you.

At the end of the day, your dog’s health of the most important thing. If you’re worried about your dog’s symptoms, hop on the line with someone at Airvet, and we’ll be happy to help figure out the severity of the infection – that’s kinda our whole thing!

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