All dogs are prone to ear-related maladies due to their anatomy. Dog ear canals are shaped like a “J” or an “L,” making it difficult to expel any buildup or pathogens that make their way into the passageway.
Let’s take a look at the 5 most likely issues occurring within your dog’s ear canal that are causing a foul smell.
While earwax can be unsightly to look at, the substance is essential. That’s because earwax is the body’s way of keeping your pet’s ear clean and free of harmful bacteria or pathogens. However, too much earwax can lead to unpleasant ear odor.
Without proper ear hygiene, any breed of dog can experience a build-up of earwax, but some dog breeds are predisposed to have more earwax than others, including:
To help prevent earwax from building up and causing smelly ears, it’s important to make thorough ear cleanings part of your dog’s regular wellness routine. You should be cleaning your dog’s ears on a regular basis. If you don’t know which ear cleaner is best for your pup, talk to your veterinarian.
Yeast infections are another common cause of smelly ears in dogs.
Candida overgrowth, a common variety of yeast, may be identified by the following symptoms:
Your vet can diagnose and treat a yeast infection in your dog by performing a cytology and administering antifungal prescription ear drops or oral medication for your pet’s ear problem. If you suspect a yeast infection is the culprit behind your dog’s stinky and dirty ears, do not clean their ears before your vet appointment, as this can make diagnosing the issue more difficult.1
Ear mites are a type of parasite commonly found in dogs. Signs of a dog ear mite infection can include:
While you should always take your dog to the vet if you suspect a case of ear mites, you may be able to run a preliminary check-up at home.
Take a sample of ear debris from your dog’s outer ear, and swipe it on a dark surface. Using a magnifying glass, look for any light-colored, rapidly-moving specks the size of a grain of sand.
Fortunately, ear mites are easily treatable. In fact, the newest treatment protocols can even wipe out an entire ear mite infection in a single session.
Watching your dog roll around blissfully in nature is unquestionably adorable—but the more time your dog spends outdoors, the more likely it is for a foreign object to become stuck in their ear. Materials such as grass, dirt, or leaf debris can all get stuck in the ear, leading to depressed airflow and a humid environment that yeast and bacteria can thrive in.
If you think your pup has an unwelcome guest lodged in their ear, see a vet to flush out the offending foreign body. Never insert a cotton swab or Q-tip into your dog’s ear canal—you’re likely to push the object deeper into the canal, causing more discomfort and increasing the likelihood of an ensuing infection.
Of all the causes of smelly ears in dogs, symptoms of ear infections are number one.
There are three types of bacterial ear infections that can affect dogs:
Although ear infections are extraordinarily common in dogs, most conditions can be resolved by following the right protocol for immediate care and long-term prevention.
If your dog continues to develop ear infections, it’s important to talk to your vet about stepping up your at-home ear care routine. Remember, an ear problem can easily develop if you’re not careful. If you notice a foul smell coming from your dog’s ear, do not ignore this symptom. Frequently relying on antibiotics to treat recurring infections will decrease their efficacy over time and may even cause painful structural changes to your dog’s ear.
Alongside ear odor, you may notice some other symptoms or behaviors in your pup that can signify an ear problem, such as:
While ear issues can vary in type and severity, your first step in treatment should always be a veterinarian check-up. The severity of some ear conditions, like bacterial infections, can escalate rapidly if neglected, leading to extreme health concerns, such as deafness, facial paralysis, or even neurological damage.
To determine the exact cause of your pup’s ear odor, your vet will likely use at least one of the following examination techniques:
After they’ve diagnosed the root cause, they’ll let you know whether the problem can be remedied in-office or through a more exhaustive protocol of at-home care.
In every case, your vet will also recommend thorough, more frequent ear cleanings to prevent future funky smells and discomfort.
When it’s time to clean your dog’s ears, make sure you have all the proper tools on hand, including a vet-approved ear cleaning solution, gauze or a cotton ball, a towel, and a dog treat (to keep your furry friend from getting too antsy).
Once you’re prepped, you can effectively clean your dog’s ears with the following steps:
Ideally, your dog’s ears should be cleaned at least once a week, but if your pet has long ears, hair growing inside the ear canal, or spends a lot of time outdoors, you may need to increase your frequency.
It’s also important to avoid hydrogen peroxide or products that list alcohol as an ingredient. Use an ear cleaner that is recommended by your veterinarian to ensure you are using a safe product on your dog’s ear. These can be irritating or painful for your pet—especially if they have an ear-related injury—and are not sustainable ingredients to use for long-term ear hygiene.
With regular cleanings, your dog’s ears can take on more appropriate descriptors: adorable, soft, floppy—you get the idea. But to effectively clean ears, prevent odor, and remove debris without causing further irritation, it’s essential to use a non-toxic ear cleaning solution.
Vetericyn Plus® Antimicrobial Ear Rinse is designed to mitigate ear odors—and their underlying irritants—using non-toxic ingredients that won’t add pain or stress to your pet’s daily ear care routine. In fact, all of Vetericyn’s products are non-toxic, vet-approved (and vet-used), and concocted to deliver the most effective and comfortable treatment for your pet.
For solutions to all your pet care needs, trust Vetericyn.