Dog Ear Infections: Common Causes and Symptoms in Jenison, MI

Did you know dogs can develop ear infections just like humans can? In fact, dogs are actually more susceptible to ear infections because of the shape of their ear canal.

Learning to recognize the signs of an ear infection and being aware of situations that may contribute to infections can help with early detection and treatment. This is important because an infection that is quickly recognized can usually be cleared up easily. However, left untreated, infections can become much worse and can lead to other complications.

Ear infections can be painful and uncomfortable for your pet. If your pet shows any of the following symptoms, please contact us for an appointment with our veterinarian.

Dog ear infection




  • Head shaking or head tilt: This is one of the most common symptoms of ear infections in dogs. The dog may shake or tilt her head to try to relieve some of the pressure that is caused by the inflammation in her ear. She may keep her head tilted to one side all the time or might alternate sides.
  • Redness and swelling of the ear: In moderate to severe cases of ear infection, redness and swelling can occur.
  • Scabs or crusting in the ears
  • Discharge from the ear: The discharge may be clear or dark, depending on the severity and location of the infection.
  • Foul smell from the ear: If you notice a foul smell from your dog’s ear, this is an early warning sign that she may have an ear infection. Many pet owners notice this problem before any others on this list.
  • Itching/Scratching/Pain: Frequent itching and scratching at the ear and showing signs of being painful when the ear is touched can be signs of an infections.
dog head shaking due to ear infection



Ear infections are usually caused by the presence of yeast, bacteria, or a mix of both. Factors that may contribute to an ear infection may include:


  • Swimming: Swimming exposes your dog’s ear to water, which can easily contain bacteria. Additionally, if the dog’s ear is not cleaned and dried properly, the moist environment creates the perfect environment for bacteria and yeast to thrive, which can cause an infection. Swimming is one of the leading causes of ear infections in dogs.
  • Injury: If your dog suffers an injury to the ear canal or on the outside of the ear, the injury can become infected. When this occurs, the infection can quickly spread and become a bigger problem.
  • Allergies: Allergies can cause ear infections in dogs by altering the normal skin barrier. If your dog suffers from allergies, she may develop swollen or inflamed ears. One or both ears can be affected at any given time.
  • Lack of proper grooming: Some dogs naturally grow hair inside their ears (ie. Shih-Tzus, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, etc). Hair inside the ear can naturally block air flow making it more difficult to keep the ear dry. This creates a moist environment for yeast and bacteria to grow. Additionally, the hair can trap dirt and debris, and excess ear wax. Be sure to keep up with regular grooming, including properly cleaning the inside of your dog’s ears and, in specific breeds, trimming any overgrown ear hair.
  • Floppy ears: Dogs who have floppy or drooping ears are more prone to ear infections than others. This is because the folded over ear can trap moisture, giving bacteria and yeast the perfect environment to thrive.  Although all dogs can potentially have ear infections, you should take extra precautions when your dog has floppy ears.
  • Ear mites: Ear mites are an uncommon parasite in adult dogs. They are contagious from dog to dog in close contact, so are more often diagnosed in a puppy or adult dog newly obtained from a multiple dog environment. Ear mites cause inflammation, so a secondary infection with yeast and bacteria is common. Fortunately, ear mites are easily treated with many of today’s oral flea and tick preventions.
Dog swimming


If your dog is exhibiting the signs and symptoms of an ear infection, please see a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible to avoid further complications.

The vet will examine your dog, perform diagnostics to confirm the type of infection, and provide her with appropriate medication to treat the infection and help alleviate the pain and discomfort your pet is experiencing.




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About Chicago Drive Veterinary Clinic

In 1997, we established Chicago Drive Veterinary Clinic in Jenison as a place where people and their pets can be treated not as clients, but as extended members of our family.  Our mission as your veterinarian is to deliver care we can be proud of—care that goes beyond simply meeting your pet’s most essential needs.