While ear problems in dogs are very common, some breeds are more likely to be plagued by them
than others. In particular, dogs with longer folded-over ears and dogs that love the water are more likely to have the type
of moist environment that attracts bacteria.
They also have the disadvantage of not getting the good air circulation that is helpful in maintaining drier conditions in the ear.
What this means, is that breeds of this type need to have their ears inspected more frequently and kept very clean.
That being said, all dog breeds can and do get ear issues, so don't run off if you have a breed with ears of
another kind. The information in this article is intended for
the benefit of all dog owners - regardless of the shape of their dogs' ears!
The anatomy of a dog's ear is kind of like a "dogleg" in golf. Sorry for this analogy if you're not familiar with golf, but if you are, you'll know that a "dogleg" is a fairway that is shaped like the hind leg of a dog.
A dog's ear resembles this shape in that the ear canal first angles vertically in one direction and then takes a horizontal
turn toward the inner ear.
It is this shape that makes it easy for various debris to become trapped, wax to build up, or parasites to find a home!
Ear problems in dogs can affect:
Dogs rely on their hearing significantly more than their eyes so it makes sense for owners to become
well-informed about the various types of ear conditions that may affect them adversely during their lifetime.
Armed with this knowledge, owners will have a better idea of what conditions they may be able to handle themselves and which ones need a vet's attention - asap!
Ear flap Issues:
External Ear Canal Issues:
Ear Problems in Dogs affecting the Middle Ear:
Most of the problems associated with the middle ear are the result of the progression of external ear
infections, or bacteria that enter the middle ear canal through nasal pathways and cause infections.
I hope your pet never has an infection that progresses this far because there is usually substantial pain involved at this level. His head will be painful to the touch and often noticeably tilted to one position.
If you ever had a painful ear ache, you will know the feeling! Because of the proximity to the eardrum, infections in this part of the ear can lead to deafness or facial paralysis.
Bottom line: a vet visit is definitely required right away.
Dog Ear Problems - Inner Ear:
Problems affecting the inner ear are the type of infections often associated with the loss of equilibrium - medically
referred to at labyrinthitis.
If you have ever been sea sick you will be familiar with the very uncomfortable feeling of losing your sense of balance. You will also likely remember the nausea that went along with this experience!
Trauma to the head can also cause this type of condition as can poisoning or a drug reaction.
If your dog shows signs of dizziness, there is no time to waste - take him to the vet as quickly as you can!
Other ear problems in dogs are sometimes hereditary.
For example: Dermatomyositis is a disorder of the connecting tissue that Shelties and Collies are most prone to.
which results in scaly skin and hair loss in the ears of your dog, may also be an inherited condition.
Finally, hormonal abnormalities, adrenal gland disorders or a weakened immune system are also sometimes related to ear infections and/or the healing of them.
By taking these preventative measures, you will be able to stay one jump ahead of ear problems in dogs and take quick action at the first sign of any troubles.
To learn more about canine health, visit
Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine