Dog diseases
Diseases & Ailments

Ear trouble – Wax, Ear mites, Infection and Hematoma

Ear trouble is common among dogs, particularly dogs with floppy ears, like hounds, or heavy hair growth within the ear canals, like Poodles. (The reason, obviously, lack of ventilation.) As a matter of fact, where the little Poodles are concerned, it is highly doubtful that any of them can survive all their days without some discomfort.

But all dogs, short ears or long, are susceptible to ear trouble.

How can you tell when Bowser is suffering about the ears? Easy. He’ll scratch! Sometimes he’ll scratch until he draws blood or causes a hematoma (more on that below). He may hold his head at a cockeyed angle. He may also shake his head, continuously.

You might see your dog paw at his head like a fighter in the ring. He will certainly scratch. If you look closer you may find pus in the ear, a lot of wax, or a deposit of what looks like dried blood. There may be swelling. The ear may be read with inflammation. There may be a strong, sour smell.

What should I do?

A better question is what not to do!

The worst thing possible is to start prying around with a matchstick or hairpin. There is nothing about which veterinarians are more adamant: Do not probe the inside of a dog’s ear, ever!

The dog’s ear is far more sensitive than the human ear. Tampering may complicated a simple problem, or it may create a problem where there really isn’t any.

There are some things you ought to know if your dog shows any of the symptoms mentioned above. Learning the list may ease your mind until you have contacted your veterinarian. There are four major kinds of ear trouble:

  • Wax
  • Ear mites
  • Infection
  • Hematoma

Very often there is too much wax in the ear canal. Despite anything you may have heard, don’t try pouring mineral oil in the ear and getting out the wax by massaging the outside of the ear. You may injure the ear lining. Take your pup to the veterinarian and let him treat the problem.

The ear mite is rightly named. It seems to crave the dark caverns of the ear for its habitat. It can drive a dog half crazy scratching at the ear as if he wants to rip it away. There are some who say you can float out the mites with oil. Forget it. You might miss a mite. You’ll certainly make a mess. See the veterinarian instead.

Otitis is a fancy word for an inflammation of the skin of the external ear canal. It is caused by infection or parasites. The ear may become so sore that your dog won’t let you come near it. If he will, you can ease his pain temporarily with half an aspirin and a little mineral or baby oil applied on a cotton swab. If your dog seems to have lost his sense of balance, it means, of course, that the infection has reached the middle ear.

Hematoma is a blood-filled blister which causes the ear to swell and become inflamed. It is caused by a bite by another animal or by self-scratching. Surgery is required to remove the blister, or your dog may wind up with a cauliflower ear.

From all of the above, we hope the lesson is clear – if you notice anything in your dog like ear trouble, get him to the veterinarian as soon as possible!