Ear Discharge in Dogs

Ear discharge in dogs is a symptom of an underlying problem such as an infection or an infestation of ear mites. The ears of a healthy dog are free of odor and clean. If there is a strange smell emanating from your pet’s ears or a brown or greenish discharge in the outer canal, you should take him to the vet as these symptoms are signs of an ear problem.

 Ear infections are common and dogs of all breeds and ages are susceptible to them. Some dogs tend to produce more wax and in such dogs, a mild discharge is nothing to worry about as long as the ears are kept clean.

Symptoms of Ear Problems in Dogs

Dogs with ear problems can show symptoms of:

  • Discharge from the ears
  • Ears that are painful to the touch
  • Tilting of the head to one side
  • Scratching of the ears
  • Inflammation in the ear canal
  • Odor
  • Loss of coordination 
  • Shaking of the head

Causes of Ear Discharge in Dogs

Ear discharge can be due to the presence of ear mites. The irritation caused by these tiny creatures makes your pet scratch and the constant scratching can cause swelling and discharge from the ear canal. This discharge may be reddish brown in color. An outer ear infection caused by an allergy, swimming or an overproduction of ear wax can result in a waxy discharge that’s yellowish or reddish brown in color.

An injury to the external ear canal or to the head can cause bleeding from the ear. Foreign bodies embedded in the ear canal can also result in ear discharge. Besides this, bacterial infections or tumors in the ear canal can give rise to symptoms like ear discharge and pain.

Diagnosis of Dog Ear Infections    

An evaluation of the pet’s medical history and a physical exam together with tests such as an otoscopic exam can identify the problem especially if it’s a foreign body lodged in the ear canal. A cytological exam of a swab of the ear can help identify an infection caused by yeast or bacteria.

If the swab is rolled in mineral oil, it can be examined for the presence of ear mites. Testing can also done for medical conditions such as hypothyroidism, allergies, tumors or autoimmune diseases.

Treatment of Ear Discharge in Dogs

Treatment is advised according to the underlying cause of the ear discharge. A foreign body is removed and ear infections are treated with drug preparations that include antibiotics to cure a bacterial infection, an antifungal ointment to cure an infection caused by yeast, corticosteroids to control the swelling and inflammation, and pain killers to manage the pain.

Dos and Don’ts of Dog Ear Discharge

Medications should be administered as prescribed by the vet. You should monitor your pet closely for any recurrence of the problem. Your pet’s ears should be regularly cleaned with medication either by a groomer or a vet. Never use a cotton swab or insert any foreign material such as a pair of tweezers into your pet’s ear. It’s best to put cotton in his ears before bathing him and keep him indoors to minimize his exposure to allergens.

Tender loving care, the administration of medications and plenty of rest can help your dog heal quickly.