How To Tell If Your Dog Has An Ear Infection and How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

Does your dog smell bad?

Believe it or not, dogs in their natural healthy state smell good. The only reason dogs smell bad is if they have an ear infection, dental tartar/oral infections or skin infections or if they just rolled in something disgusting. The easiest way to tell if your dog has an ear infection is to smell their ears. In a healthy state, their ears are just like ours, with a small amount of was and no odor present. The ears should be nice and clean and the skin should be a normal color.

Q-Tips work great in creases

The Cotton Ball/Q-Tip test

Use a cotton ball or just the head of a Q-Tip to swab your dog’s ears. They should be clean.

Owners often mistake the dark brown debris that is present in infection as “normal” dirt. There is no such thing as “normal” dirt in dog’s ears. Their ears are designed to stay clean and while there are exceptions if they have been recently rolling in the mud or kept constantly in a dusty, dirty area, your cotton swab should come out clean.

Also the skin inside the ears should be normal color and texture. If the skin is bright red, thickened, scaly or otherwise abnormal, your dog has an ear infection.

Sometimes scratching is ear-specific

Is your dog scratching its ears?

It is not normal for dogs to constantly scratch their ears. They might do an occasional scratch for fleas or minor causes of irritation but if they are scratching their ears often, they have an ear infection or something stuck in their ears.

Your veterinarian will look into the ear canals with an ophthalmoscope all the way down to the tympanic membranes (ear drums) to see how bad the infection is and if there is anything stuck in the ear canal that might be contributing to the infection.

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears

If your dog is diagnosed with an ear infection or has had them on a regular basis and you need to prevent them from recurring, you will need to know the proper way to clean your dogs ears.

Gather supplies

Ear cleaner – can be natural (1 part vinegar to 2 parts water, or see Dr. Pitcairn’s Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats) or use the cleaner recommended by your veterinarian.

Cotton Swabs or Q-Tips – (use same caution as with humans, do not stick more than the head of the Q-Tip into ears)

Towel to go around dogs neck or on floor under head, or do this outside, this is messy business!

Apply ear cleaner

Apply moderate amount of ear cleaner into one or both ears and massage ears well. Dog will shake its head like crazy after this step so watch out. Go ahead and let them shake it out, you can always put more in if needed.

Ouch! This one is too sore for you to clean without starting medication beforehand

Use cotton swabs for deeper areas and clean ALL of the debris out of ears. Do not be aggressive with this step if the ears are very red and obviously very sore, get medication from your veterinarian to reduce irritation and infection before aggressively cleaning.

Clean until no more debris shows up on your cotton swabs or Q-Tips.

Apply medication to ears if you have it. I advise medication twice daily for 14 days and a recheck with your veterinarian to make sure all debris is cleaned out all the way to the tympanic membrane or it will just come back.


Be sure to address underlying issues such as allergies or abnormalities with ear canals or foreign objects or cleaning and treating ears will not fix the problem.

Was this helpful to you? Do you have any tips to add?

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  1. Posted August 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

    Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Very useful information specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such info much. I was looking for this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

    • Posted August 10, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      Thank you so much for your comment! Best of luck to you too.

  2. Priyanka
    Posted May 19, 2013 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    Thanz a lot 🙂
    Gr8 help!

  3. Linda
    Posted June 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    My Papillon has trouble with one ear. I take him to the vet and there is no infection.
    He has allergies and takes benedryl. Last year he was on prednisone and ended up with medication induced Cushings. I’m giving him a benedryl in the a.m. and before bed. I do clean his ears with Otomax every 3 days and the ear in question is always clean. Some wax on the outer ear with q-tip but that’s all. He was scratching so much yesterday it was red and almost ready to bleed. This time I put in the ear powder to dry it and the
    moans and groans were pitiful. I’ve read about NuVet and Skin-Eze and they seem like expensive hoaxes – photos can’t be real. There is a company wo makes a formula based on allergy tests but it is administered on the gums not by an injection.
    I just want him to be comfortable and happy/playful. Can you suggest something for him.

  4. Dianne
    Posted November 2, 2013 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I have a 8 year old pure white pommerainian. She has always been healthy and kept clean even with bathing taking care not to get water or dog wash in her ears, I have noticed the last 3 weeks or so her inner ears are bright red, crusty , doesn’t seem to be sore in any way, they don’t smell either. She isn’t kept in sun for too long either during outside play time. Any suggestions please

    • Posted November 2, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Hi Dianne, Please take a cotton ball softened in lukewarm water and gently wipe the debris out of the ear canals. If she itches when you do this , this is likely an ear infection. Do not put anything into the ears if they are red and inflammed, only warm water soaked cotton balls. If she doesn’t itch when you remove the debris, it’s possible (though rare) that it is just a collection of dirt and that they just need to be cleaned. If she begins to itch and scratch at her ears or area around the ears after you have removed the debris please take her to your veterinarian and get medication for the ears. Otomax is a good one. You can also use a natural ear cleaning solution made of vinegar and water you can find in Dr. Pitcairns complete guide to natural health book on dog care on the internet found here: please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  5. Anita
    Posted November 20, 2013 at 2:01 am | Permalink

    Is otomax is ideal for infected ear ?

    • Posted November 20, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Otomax ear medication for dogs has the following ingredients: Gentamicin Sulfate Veterinary, Betamethasone Valerate, USP and Clotrimazole. Gentamicin is an antibiotic and should be used in caution in ears with a ruptured tympanic membrane but otherwise has good antibacterial activity in ears. Betamethasone is a steroid (used for anti-inflammatory purposes for ears) and works well but should be used cautiously for chronic use in dogs with immune problems or Cushings disease, Clotrimazole is an antifungal and can be effective in treating ear disease that is fungal. Any ear medications should be prescribed by a veterinarian on the basis of clinical signs, ear cytology (a test where they take a sample from the ear canal and stain it and look at it under a microscope) ear culture (a test where they take a sample from the ear and put it in culture media) and the medication needs to be specific to the problem. Some ears need only bacterial meds, some need fungal meds, some need anti-inflammatories and some don’t need any of these if the problem is a foreign body or something else. Also, the quantity and time the medication used is VERY important. At the latest conference I attended a dermatological specialist let us know that we have not been prescribing enough medication to be administered every time. Increased amount equals increased cost and Otomax is pricey. I have used Otomax for many years in my practice with great success when it is used in conjunction with proper diagnostics and for at least 3 weeks plus. Make sure you have your veterinarian recheck the ears 3 weeks after you start the medication. Hope this helps. Please let me know how your experience turns out. Teri Byrd DVM

  6. Colin caddy
    Posted November 22, 2013 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    My dog keeps crying out with her ears she as very hard wax just inside her ears I cannot get it out what can I do

    • Posted November 23, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      Hi Colin, You can try putting a natural solution like vinegar and water into the ear canals. Here is a link for a couple of natural ear washes: If you can still not remove the debris, you need to take your dog to your veterinarian to remove the debris. Sometimes dogs have to go under anesthesia to have their ear canals cleaned completely. You also need to get medication from the veterinarian to treat the problem which is likely bacterial or fungal or both. Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  7. Lisa rainey
    Posted November 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    what do I do to clean out my dogs ear smells there’s black hard debris in it

    • Posted December 9, 2013 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

      Hi Lisa, Please see my post above to Ashley on 12/9/13. You need to take your dog to the vet, it has an ear infection and needs appropriate medication and cleaner. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  8. Ashley
    Posted December 9, 2013 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

    Hello, my dog is a two year old black lab and has always had smelly ears really. I thought this was just a normal thing, I clean them every three weeks but his early are getting increasingly dirty and my sister was just petting his ears a minute ago and he yelped out. I went to clean his ears and he liked it at first which makes me think they were itchy (he just had that look on his face) but then he kept covering them when I tried again.

    • Posted December 9, 2013 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      Hello Ashley, When dogs are healthy, neither their ears or their skin has any bad odor. Whenever you can smell a bad odor it is a good indication of infection. Also, clean ears on dogs and cats look just like our ears- nice and shiny clean inside, pink healthy skin with no debris present. Your dog has an ear infection and you need to take him to a veterinarian to have them thoroughly cleaned out so that you can start medication on clean ears. They will also do a cytology to determine if the infection is bacterial, fungal or both and prescribe appropriate medication. It is important to use plenty of the medication twice daily for at least 14 days and have the ears rechecked to make sure the infection is gone. You will be so much happier with the results and so will he! Please let me know how things turn out, Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  9. JJ
    Posted December 16, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

    Hello, my terrier recently developed crusty spots on the inner lining near the ear tips of both ears. The lesions don’t appear itchy to her. There are no other lesions on her face and body. Could you provide some insight on what this could be and tips on managing this? How infectious is this? I want to clean off the crusts but am afraid that it will only make matters worse. Thanks.

    • Posted December 23, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

      Hello JJ, So sorry to hear about his problem with your terrier. I don’t know how old she is but if she is an older white dog with pink ears there is a good chance that this might be squamous cell carcinoma- a type of skin cancer that is common on both fair skinned people and white animals- especially on the ears. It is very important that you take her to your veterinarian immediately to have this diagnosed. It can often be solved by removing the areas that are affected. It could also be a fungal or bacterial infection or something else, they will determine with tests and biopsies. Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  10. francis dowling
    Posted December 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    our dog got bitten by another dog and has bite marks in his ear and it smells do i bring him to the vet?

    • Posted January 4, 2014 at 11:55 am | Permalink

      Hello Francis, Yes, you absolutely need to see a veterinarian. This sounds like an infection/abscess is forming and it needs to be treated. Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  11. Boobear27
    Posted January 11, 2014 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    I have a Rat Terrier with very pointy ears:) My husband and I clean her ears about once a week or once every 2 weeks. We use the homemade vinegar and water ear cleaner. After using cotton ball to clean around and try the ears we use qtips to get into the nooks and crannies(We make sure we don’t go into deep) and every time we swipe with the qtip this dark brownish gunk always comes out yuck! We keep using new qtips until no more gunky stuff comes out.We always assumed it’s just dirt mixed with ear wax. Is it that brown gunk normal? Her ears don’t smell and she doesn’t seem to be in any pain. She scratches around that area a little sometimes because she gets allergies. She had a physical recently and the vet checked her ears and told us her physical came out normal.

    • Posted February 13, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

      Hi Boobear, So sorry, found this buried in my inbox today. Ears normally to not contain any debris or discharge at all, they should be just like ours. Sometimes if you live in a very dusty area, a small amount of dirt may be present. Your veterinarian needs to do an otoscopic exam, take a sample of the material, do a cytology and propose a solution to this problem. Good luck! Teri Byrd DVM

  12. Ozzy (dogs name)
    Posted March 10, 2014 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    I noticed my dog shaking his head last night just checked his ear it is looking red inside, I bathed it with warm water, he didn’t seem in any discomfort,he is a10 yr old cocker spaniel, he’s not had problems with his ears before, I would appreciate your advice.

    • Posted March 12, 2014 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      Hello Yvonne, Thank you for your question. Sometimes there is something stuck deep in the ear canal that only a veterinarian can see with an otoscope, I recommend you take him in to have them look inside the ear canals to make sure that there isn’t a problem. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  13. Posted March 21, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    Hi! I have a long haired Chihuahua and his ears are red and he constantly itches them. I don’t have a job and can’t afford to take him to take him to the vet. I need an idea to see what is wrong. Can someone help me out?

  14. livo
    Posted March 23, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Hi. My 2 year old shih-tzu seems to always have smelly ears. We have used medicine in the past and it got better. Now its back. Any suggestion on what I can do to help him. He scratches them like crazy..( it is like a musty smell

  15. Lauren
    Posted June 18, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    My year and a half old shih-tzu mix had ear mites treated at the shelter before I brought her home. I thought we were free and in the clear. Now six months later we have dark grainy dirt in both ears, itchy and red (no smell). I bought otomite and Burts Bees ear cleaner. It seemed to help for a week or two but is it back. Since I used a second dose her ears are very red. Is this normal and can I calm it down with something? She seems happy and healthy otherwise. Do I take her to the vet or am I a paranoid first time doggy mom?

    • Posted July 2, 2014 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Hi Lauren, No, you are not being a paranoid first time doggy mom, you are being a caring, conscientious pet owner and I appreciate it! You need to take her to the vet so that they can do an ear cytology (microscopic exam on the material in the ears), find out what it is that she has- bacteria, yeast or mites (they are not that common in dogs) and select a medication that will help. When you get the ear cleaner and medication make sure that you use it for at least 14 days and have them recheck the ears when they seem all healed. Expect a small amount of hearing loss when the medication is in the ears. Thank you for your question, I hope this helps. Teri Byrd DVM

  16. Nicole
    Posted June 26, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Hello. My 4 months old shih-tzu has been scratching his ears very often since the last few weeks. He runs like crazy when it starts itching and tries to press his ears against the wall . I don’t know whether its infected or just some wax stuck In his ears. Please help me out ._.

    • Posted July 2, 2014 at 11:53 am | Permalink

      Hi Nicole, Thank you for your question. You need to take her to the vet so that they can do an ear cytology (microscopic exam on the material in the ears), find out what it is that she has- bacteria, yeast or mites (they are not that common in dogs) and select a medication that will help. When you get the ear cleaner and medication make sure that you use it for at least 14 days and have them recheck the ears when they seem all healed. Expect a small amount of hearing loss when the medication is in the ears. I hope things are better soon. Teri Byrd DVM

  17. Keith
    Posted July 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    My problem appears to be a little different from the others posted here. I have a 5 year old Boxer that has a deep ear itch. He forces his ears into my fingers so I will rub hard. I only rub the outside behind and in front of the ears and he will push sometimes so hard he cries out. His ears are a normal color, has no bad smell and are clean, so I haven’t taken him to a vet. Any idea what may cause this behavior? Thanks for your time.

    • Posted July 18, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      Hi Keith, Thank you for your question. Have you had a veterinarian look into the ear canals with an otoscope? Sometimes there is a foreign body (like a grass awn or just hair or something else) deep in the ear canal next to the tympanic membrane. I would recommend having your vet take a good look with a scope. Otherwise it may be a reinforced behavioral thing- he just likes his ears rubbed and has you trained! It is a good sign that there is no inflammation or odor but I would still have them checked. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  18. Michele
    Posted September 3, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    My white GSD dog keeps having re occuring problems with her right ear. She has steriods and antibiotcs and ear drops for couple weeks and it clears up, but then hard wax returns a month or so later, she occasionally shakes her head with it, and occassionally scratches at her ear too. This has been going on for two years now, on and off, any suggestions please? The vets have suggested knocking her out to clean her ears out and take a swab to send off, but we are reluctant to do this, as she is nearly 7yrs old, and worried how she will be with the anesetic? Is there no other way the ears can be cleaned out and a swab taken without her having to be sedated please?

    • Posted September 6, 2014 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

      Hello Michele, So sorry you are having this problem with your GSD. It is a little unusual in that dogs do not normally form hard wax- ear infections are generally made up of brown waxy debris and have an odor and are either bacterial or fungal in nature. Because this is a chronic issue and is unusual in it’s presentation, I would recommend that you proceed with anesthesia and that way your veterinarian can get a good look at the tympanic membranes- there may be a foreign body in the ear canal causing this unusual hard wax. Also, under anesthesia, your vet can carefully clean the ear all the way down to the tympanic membrane (ear drum) and this may be necessary to completely clear this up. Anesthesia is a risk, but much less of a risk with the anesthetics that we use these days. I think it is worth the possibility of clearing this up to make your dog more comfortable. Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  19. Pat Barry
    Posted September 17, 2014 at 6:21 am | Permalink

    Have a new 11 weeks puppy with ear mites got otomite from vet, loved all views and help , thanks.

  20. Suzhen
    Posted December 7, 2014 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    Hi. My husky is one years old now. Recently one of its ear looks pale at the inner part. May i know the possible cuases? It got bitten by another dog and has bite marks at outer part of that ear. Is is the cause? What should i do? It still as active as before, just sometimes may make noise. Thank you.

    • Posted December 14, 2014 at 11:04 am | Permalink

      Hello Suzhen, A part of the ear being pale generally means a lack of blood supply to that area. If there is no sign of trauma or irritation or lumps or other abnormalities, I would not be too concerned. If the bite mark is infected you need to see a veterinarian for medication. Take Care Teri Byrd DVM

  21. Brianna
    Posted December 13, 2014 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    My golden retriever (a service dog in training) has had one ear that seems to get a dark build up since I received him for training. I have tested it to see if it smells as well as watched to see if he itched it, but it doesn’t smell nor does it seem to itch. The other ear is perfectly clean. I have had numerous dogs since I was a child including one who got constant ear infections, yet I can’t put my finger on why he would have such a large amount of build up yet not smell or itch. Do you have any pointers as to what I should do?
    Also I do clean his ears often and he has no problems with me touching them.

    • Posted December 14, 2014 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Hello Brianna, Goldens are so prone to allergies and most ear problems come from allergies, this could just be dirt- but dirt is usually gritty as opposed to waxy, or it is the beginning of an ear infection. I would probably be proactive about it and use a good ear cleaner and cotton swabs or Q-tips to clean the ear thoroughly once daily for 2 weeks. If that doesn’t get rid of it I would see a veterinarian for ear medication. You obviously take very good care of the dogs that are entrusted to you. Thank you for that. Teri Byrd DVM

  22. Kate
    Posted December 27, 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    We have a 6 month old Labradoodle who’s had one infection already. Vet put meds on his ears that took care of it. Something new. We gave him meds too. I just bathed him today abs was careful but we believe I got water in his ears. We’d gotten a solution from the vet that we do put in his ears once a week. So we did it tonight but he’s not eating which is odd and he is not a aggressive eater. He’s suppose to be neutered day after tomorrow. Wondering if a ear infection or just water in his ears would cause appetite loss?

    • Posted December 28, 2014 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

      Hello Kate, Please don’t worry about getting water in your dogs ears, it does not cause an ear infection. And it would be very unusual for a loss of appetite to follow an ear infection, unless the tympanic membrane (ear drum) has been compromised and your dog has an inner ear infection, which sometimes, but still rarely, may cause a loss in appetite. I would be looking for another cause of a loss of appetite and would recommend you see your veterinarian for other diagnostics. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  23. Lisa
    Posted March 25, 2015 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Hello. I know this is an old post but hopefully it will be seen. I’m desperate. I have an 8 year old beagle who has had an ear odor for over a year now. The vet INSISTS its not an ear infection. I’ve been using Trizultra. I thought it was helping. There are always a couple thick brown chunks in her ears. BAD odor. Would hydrogen peroxide drops help, along with an ear wash? I don’t know what else to do. Please help.

    • Posted March 25, 2015 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      Hello Lisa, I’m so sorry to hear about your Beagle’s ear problems. Your description of ear odor and “thick brown chunks” in the ears sound like an ear infection to me. Hydrogen peroxide would not help- it does not have antibacterial or antifungal properties which are the causes of most ear infections. I would recommend seeing another veterinarian who will perform an ear cytology (sample seen under a microscope) or culture of your dog’s ears to choose the correct medication which should be applied. Please use the medication twice daily for at least 14 days and make sure that the veterinarian examines the ear canals to make sure there isn’t anything in the ear canals other than infection. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  24. June smith
    Posted July 11, 2015 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    very interesting and helpful website… We adopted from an animal shelter six years ago…what confuses me is they say don’t get water or liquid in your dogs’ ears, yet then say to put, for instance, vinegar and water in to clean… Seems like opposite suggestions, therefore I don’t like putting liquids in her ears, but they need cleaning?…

    • Posted October 28, 2015 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Hi June, I agree that the advice about not getting their ears wet is confusing. I believe that dogs were meant to swim and that water in the ears does not cause problems in healthy ears (some of my associates will be in an uproar). If your dogs ears do not have an odor, do not have debris in the ear canals and she is not bothering them, they are probably fine. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  25. Posted August 19, 2015 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    My son owns an Aussie shephard. His ears stay hot , inside and out all the time. They never bother him. Sometimes be scratches but on a normal base. Can you tell me why they are hot. Our little rat terrier ears are always cool to the touch.

    • Posted October 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

      Hi Sherri, Sorry to take so long in answering you but sometimes the notifications don’t go through and I find these questions when I am answering another one. Some dogs ears are just naturally more red than others, it depends on the vascularity (blood flow to the ear). As long as there is no odor, no debris in the ears, they are nice and clean all the way to the tympanic membrane (ear drum) and he is not bothering them, they are probably ok. Hope all is well. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  26. Cat
    Posted October 27, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Hi, I have a hound with large floppy ears he is just 1..they have started to have a bad oder and the soon on his ears are really thick and rough. I saw your above posts about the natural cleaning and how thickening skin is one of the signs of infection also….my question is, will the natural cleaning, clear up the infection or only prevent?

    • Posted October 28, 2015 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      Hi Cat, It sounds like your dog has a bacterial or yeast (or both) infection of his ears. Those ear infections (otitis externa) need to be treated with an antibacterial/anti fungal ointment. The natural cleaner alone will not cure an infection that is present. You need to have a veterinarian do an ear cytology to find out the organisms present and then they will prescribe the correct medication for the ears. I advise treating the ears twice daily with the ointment for at least 2 weeks because the infections tend to come back if not treated long enough. Hope this helps. Take care, Teri Byrd DVM

  27. Julia
    Posted October 28, 2015 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    Hello. I have an 8 month old American bulldog. The last few days I’ve noticed he’s been shaking his head quite a bit and sometimes itching at one ear. I’ve never had a problem with his ears before. They do not look red or swollen and when I rub his ears he doesn’t seem to be in pain at all and He actually leans into it and tries to scratch at the same time. My mother in law has a white westie who has chronic ear infections so I’m familiar with the funky smell, which my pup doesn’t seem to have. What could be going on? I’m trying to avoid a costly vet visit as I was recently laid off but I will if it’s necessary. Thanks in advance!

    • Posted November 2, 2015 at 8:55 am | Permalink

      Hi Julia, It sounds like either an infection starting or something may be stuck down in the ear canal. If you have an ear cleaner, place about 4-6 drops into the affected ear and massage the ear canal and let him shake his head to see if he can dislodge anything that may be in the ear canal. If not, you will need to take him in to see a veterinarian so that they can look into the ear canal, get a sample of the debris if it’s there and get you the correct medication that will get rid of an infection. If it is an ear infection, be sure to treat it for at least 2 weeks so it doesn’t come back and save the cleaner and medication in case you need it in the future. Hope this helps. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  28. Praneetha
    Posted October 29, 2016 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    Hello. I have a stray dog who’s now 12 years old. He came to our home when he was already 3 or 4 years. For the past week he is having a sticky fluid, like pus flow out of his ears. I have tried everything to clean n apply an ointment but have been unsuccessful. He is used to roaming around free and doesn’t like any sort of rope or leash tying him. N he has become extremely moody and sometimes aggressive. Probably because of old age. The eat is troubling him a lot. Please suggest what I can do to make it better. Should I use a light sedative in his food? Please help.

    • Posted January 15, 2017 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

      Hello Praneetha, Thank you for taking such great care of this dog. It sounds to me like he needs antibiotics. Sometimes you can get them for your other animals from the vet if he can’t be taken into the veterinarian. It sounds like he may need to be on anti-inflammatories or pain relief also. Some vets also do house calls and could dispense the meds if they can at least see him. There are exceptions that can be made for feral animals. Please let me know how it turns out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  29. Posted December 10, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

    Hi. I have an eight year old toy poodle. My vet has treated her on off for ear infection with Tresaderm for 10 days . There isn’t any bad odor from her ears. She has grainy black with some speckles of white dirt which is stuck to the ears & hard to remove. She doesn’t scratch at them a lot, but loves to rub her ears/head against everyone. For a few weeks after using the medication her ears look great, but then it returns again. Not sure if it’s mites or infection. Have a cat in the house without any problem so I tend to think it’s not mites. Any suggestion woul be appreciated. Thank you.

    • Posted January 15, 2017 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Hello Victoria, Please try the new long acting ear medication called Claro. It works really well on these chronic cases, but the ears must be nice and clean to start with. Please let me know if it works. Teri Byrd DVM

    Posted December 31, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    My dog has black stuff coming out of his ears and they put him on a meds for about a month but it’s still not helping what is it and what can I do he shake his head and I hear the sweek in his ear plz help me I don’t know what else to do.

    • Posted January 15, 2017 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      Hi Charlene, I would try going to a different veterinarian who will do a good ear exam, a microscopic exam of the debris and get your dog on the correct medication. There are long acting medications that work over the period of a couple of weeks that they can use. Please let me know how things turn out. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

  31. boots
    Posted January 10, 2017 at 5:29 am | Permalink

    My poor dog is eleven years old, she has been scratching her right ear for a few months no w, sometimes where she gets dizzy, and staggers down the hall way. You see we donot have a vet here in town, and the cost to fly to the city is so expensive. What can i do to
    fix that..i am getting so worried about Boots.

    • Posted January 15, 2017 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

      I’m so sorry that your dog is having this problem. There are a few natural solutions you can use like vinegar and water but this problem sounds too severe for that. It sounds like it is infecting the inner ear and will need antibiotics and a good ear exam. Is there a Humane Society or Rescue Organization that can help you? I wish I was closer and I would help. Teri Byrd DVM

  32. Brittany
    Posted January 26, 2017 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    Hi! My dog Minnie has been havinga problem with her left ear. The ear has been red, warm, and she often scratches and shakes her head. When she scratches the ear, it sounds like fluid inside. I’m assuming it’s an ear infection, but we really can’t afford a vet bill at the moment. Do you have any suggestions that may help her or possibly cure it until we can have her looked at?

    • Posted June 19, 2017 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Hi Brittany, Please see my blog article on ear infections and try the natural solution. If this does not help consult Dr. Pitcairn’n natural medicine book or see a veterinarian. Sometimes, Humane societies will help out. Teri Byrd DVM

  33. Elaine Espino
    Posted February 27, 2017 at 2:44 am | Permalink

    I have a 1yr and 2 months poodle we always keep her clean.
    But like 2 weeks ago her ears started to smell a little. What can I do to help with this….. Because she is very spoiled and if she doesn’t sleep on my wife or my shoulder hugging us, she doesn’t sleep. HELP PLEASE
    Thank you

    • Posted June 19, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

      Hi Elaine, Thank you for writing. This odor would indicate a likely ear infection. Please see my blog on natural cleaners and check out Dr. Pitcairn but if it does not respond to that, she will need veterinary care. Teri Byrd DVM

  34. Greg
    Posted May 6, 2017 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    My dog JJ (blue healer-australian cattle dog) has been shaking his head and scratching his left ear. I’ve checked and there is nothing in his ear. It appears to have normal flesh color on the inside. Cannot afford vet at this time due to wife and I both losing our jobs. No humane society, just the local animal shelter (kill shelter). We’ve tried the vinegar and water but there was nothing there. Any ideas?

    • Posted June 19, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Hi Greg, Thanks for your inquiry. This time of year it is common for dogs to get foreign bodies (grass awns, foxtails) deep in the ear canal which only a veterinarian can see with an otoscope. It should not be an expensive appointment unless they need to put him under anesthesia to remove it. Continue with the vinegar and water and I hope it resolves on it’s own but if not, I recommend a veterinarian. Teri Byrd DVM

  35. lisa
    Posted June 18, 2017 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    My Rollie (miniature collie/Rottweiler), Jake has hair with clumps of a bad smelling substance matting it together just below his ear, it isn’t oozing or bleeding but the skin beneath the substance is red & looks like its a scrape that attempted to scab and heal but he scratches that area and yelps every time, I gave him a bath and washed it gently. after that I tried to get some of the stinky stuff out of the hair until he was obviously uncomfortable and I applied neosporin triple antibiotic to the area and am crossing my fingers. Please help me. Anything I can do to get rid of this without seeing a vet.

    • Posted June 19, 2017 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Hi Lisa, Thank you for your inquiry. This sounds like a wound or abscess, an infection that needs clipping, irrigation, flushing with antibiotics and veterinary care. These abscesses can be deep and need surgery. I’m sorry I cannot offer you other advice. I hope Rollie is already recovering. Teri Byrd DVM

  36. Jw
    Posted September 14, 2017 at 6:10 am | Permalink

    Our dog recently had kennel cough and was on a 10-day antibiotics. For the past few days he’s pawing at his ears/eyes and his ears kind of smell like urine. We haven’t given him a bath recently, and he sometimes pees on his paws. I checked inside his ears and one of them had a few brown spots – kind of like a gunk that we could wipe away. Thoughts?

    • Posted September 14, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      Hi John, If the ears have brown waxy debris and they are itchy to your dog when you rub them, they likely have an infection which would not have been affected by the kennel cough antibiotics. Try an ear cleaner once daily for a few days and if that doesn’t work, you will need to get a topical medication for the ears. Teri Byrd DVM

  37. Cathy
    Posted September 15, 2017 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I took my dog to the vet yesterday. They swabbed his ear and got black gunk. Then they looked in it with a scope and said it is infected. They prescribed monetemax drops once a day. When reading the info that came with it it says the ears should be thoroughly cleaned before putting the drops in. I just called them back to find out how to clean them and the vet tech said I don’t need to. The vet didn’t clean them out other than the one swab. Should I clean them?

    • Posted September 16, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      Hi Cathy, Yes, the ears need to be cleaned and they should have done that for you. Call them to get an ear cleaner and use it once daily before you put the medication in. Take Care, Teri Byrd DVM

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