Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections are very common in dogs, particularly during the summer months.

Dogs with floppy ears are more predisposed to ear infections because the dog’s ear canals face down which makes it easier for water to get into the inner ear and cause an ear infection.

Puppies are also very prone to ear infections which are usually caused by ear mites.

Swimming, frequent bathing and even cleaning the ears too much can also contribute to ear infections.

Common Symptoms of Ear Infections

Vet checking dachshund for ear infectionSome of the most common symptoms of ear infections are the following:

  • Ear discomfort
  • Scratching and rubbing ears
  • Odor or discoloration in ear canal
  • Ear Infection Treatment
  • Crust or scabbing in or outside the ear
  • Head shaking
  • Walking in circles
  • Loss of balance
  • Wiping ear on the floor

Causes of Dog Ear Infections

The most common causes of ear infections in dogs are the following:

  • Wax build up inside the ear
  • Allergic reaction
  • Ear Mites
  • Foreign bodies
  • Dirt and debris in the inner ear
  • Dog’s hair blocking the ear
  • Yeast or Bacteria
  • Other Infection
  • Hypothyroidism

If an ear infection goes untreated, further damage can occur.


If you think your dog has an ear infection, make sure to take your dog to the vet immediately.

If the infection spreads to the inner or middle ear, there can be serious complications from loss of hearing to facial nerve paralysis.

Ear infections are treatable, but they need to be addressed right away.

Your veterinarian will want a detailed history of your pup and will perform a complete physical exam of your dog.

The goal is to find the underlying cause to see if it is a more serious infection or just a more common ear infection.

Usually, your vet will swab the ear to obtain a sample of the debris or discharge.

The sample will then be examined under a microscope to determine if there is bacteria or yeast present.

If bacteria or yeast is present, then your dog has an ear infection.

Yeast-related ear infections tend to have debris that is black or dark brown.

Dogs with bacterial ear infections will have more of a yellowish brown debris in their ears.


The recommended treatment will depend on the cause, nature, and the severity of the ear infection.

Treatment usually includes antibiotic ointments, drops, sprays, or creams for the ear.

If the ear infection is more severe, your veterinarian will probably prescribe an oral antibiotic.

If your dog suffers from chronic ear infections, surgery may be required.

How to Prevent Ear Infections

The best prevention for ear infections in dogs is to keep your dog’s ears clean and free of debris.

Some further tips include the following:

Check your dog’s ears regularly for odor, swelling, discharge and other symptoms of infection.

After swimming and baths, make sure your dog’s ears are dried thoroughly.

For dogs that grow hair around the ear canals, tweeze it away or have your groomer do it for you.

A dog’s ears need to be clean but don’t overdo the cleaning, because this can lead to infection.

Does Pet Insurance Cover Your Dog’s Ear Infections?

Pet insurance will cover ear infections and the medication and testing that are needed to cure the infection.

However, if your dog had an ear infection before signing up for a pet insurance plan or has chronic ear infections, then the infection won’t be covered as it will now be considered pre-existing.

The cost of treating an ear infection can range from $200 to $4,500 if surgery is required.

Pet insurance plans like Healthy Paws can save you up to 90% of the costs of all the necessary treatment.

If you have a breed of dog that is pre-disposed to ear infection, like Bassett Hounds or Cocker Spaniels, pet insurance can assure you that you can always care for your dog’s ear infection for only a portion of the total cost.

Just like any other dog health condition, if you notice anything abnormal in your dog’s behavior or anything inside the ear that shouldn’t be there, take your dog to the vet immediately.

If you are looking for a pet insurance company that covers ear infections, our top 10 pet insurance companies is a great place to start!


1 Comment
  1. Reply
    Jason Malla 10/29/2016 at 12:34 am

    Two days after we took our dog to a groomer for a wash and trim, she got a massive ear infection. The vet prescribed antibiotics and said the infection was due to water trapped in her ears. We have changed groomers and make sure that her ears are thoroughly dried whenever she is washed or goes from a swim in the river.

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