SlimDoggy Health Check: Ears

Share Button

Over the last year I’ve noticed that Jack has slowly started to lose his hearing. Last time we were at the vet’s for his Senior Wellness check, I asked the vet to check them. Other than a little dirt build-up he didn’t see anything amiss and chalked up Jack’s hearing problems to old age.

It’s a little scary knowing that Jack can’t hear me – especially when we are away from familiar surroundings, or hiking the trails around our home. Unfortunately, he stays leashed on our walks most of the time now. I did do a little research on hearing loss for my own comfort though, to ensure that there wasn’t possibly something else going on.


The most common ear problem in dogs is called “otitis externa” and is simply an inflammation of the outer ear canal. “Otitis media” and “otitis interna” identify inflammation with the middle ear or inner ear canals.

Your dog will likely display symptoms of discomfort, scratching at his ears or possibly tilting his head to one side and there will be a distinct odor. You will see s soft brown gunk or crusty brown debris in the ear from the inflammation. The problem may be caused by ear mites, allergies, an ear infection, some type of trauma or foreign body in the ear. Your vet will examine your dog’s ear and may use an ear scope similar to those used in humans. They may take a sample and run some cytology tests to determine whether there are parasites or a bacterial cause. Depending on the root cause, a good cleaning may suffice as treatment or your vet may add antibiotics to fight the infection.

Photo credit:

Photo credit:

It’s important to stay on top of your dog’s ear health, especially dogs with long floppy ears as the warmth and moisture created is a fertile breeding ground for bacteria. You should regularly clean them, particularly after a bath or a swim outing.

I learned from my vet that a dog’s ear is shaped differently than a humans and can be problematic. The ear canal travels downward and then makes a 90-degree turn towards the inner ear and ear drum. This makes removal or natural cleansing of debris very difficult because it has to travel UP to exit the ear. You still shouldn’t stick Qtips into their ear, but you can clean a bit more thoroughly with washes and cotton swabs. It’s also helpful to apply the wash, work it in thoroughly and then you may even try to get your dog to lie on their side to help debris loosen and be removed naturally.


Additional Readings:
Ear Infections (Otitis Externa) & Ear Cleaning in Dogs
Dog Ear Infection – Symptoms and Treatments
Canine Ear Inflammation and Infection

Share Button


  1. Thanks for this information. Ear health is so important for my dogs. When I first brought home dogs, I made the mistake of (1) not cleaning our dogs ears and (2) not attributing diet to the chronic ear infections they were experiencing.

    Now that they’re on a better diet I will not make mistake number one again. I clean our dogs’ ears monthly to prevent build up. They’re nice and healthy and the vet approves. Sydney’s ears will be cleaned this evening. She won’t like it. I do one dog a week.
    Kimberly Gauthier recently posted…Easy Raw Meal for Dogs | Ground Turkey Necks and Lamb LiverMy Profile

  2. So important to keep up on all the health related things for our pups.
    Julie recently posted…Our year!!My Profile

  3. With two floppy ear dogs I have to stay on top of ear cleaning. I use a ear cleaning solution and cotton balls once a week to stay ahead of whatever little nasty uglies might be lurking behind the scenes.

  4. Bentley’s ears get cleaned once a week. He has had so many ear infections and it is mainly due to the heat and humidity here in the south. Our vet had recommended surgery at one point, but a change in his diet after speaking with a holistic vet made it unnecessary. Thank goodness. Pierre’s ears are short and erect and he has never had a problem.
    M. K. Clinton recently posted…BFTB NETWoof News January 4, 2016 #DogNewsMy Profile

  5. We are familiar with hearing loss with Katie, and it is nothing to do with them being clean or not. Funny thing is, now that she can’t hear, she is always off leash. Most of the time she is focused on Mom so she catches the hand signals, but Mom still keeps talking to her like she can hear. The habit is hard to break.
    Emma recently posted…Bailie Goes For A Sniff In The ParkMy Profile

Comments are now closed on this post.