How do you keep your dog’s floofers healthy? The anatomy of a dog’s ear canal is very different from that of a human. A human’s ear canal is a horizontal path leading directly to the eardrum, whereas a dog’s ear canal is “L”-shaped. There’s an outer, vertical canal which leads into a horizontal canal and then to the eardrum.

This L-shaped design of a dog’s ear canal prevents fluid from draining effectively out of the ear openings and can cause a build-up of ear wax at the bottom of the canal. This excess debris can attract moisture, causing increased growth of the yeast and bacteria that normally live in the ear canal and lead to infection.

Certain breeds are more susceptible to maceration and infection in the ears, such as:

  • Dog breeds with floppy ears that cover the opening of the ear, e.g. Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, Labradors, etc.
  • Dog breeds with ear canals that are lined with hair, e.g. Maltese Poodles, Labradoodles, Chinese Shih Tzu, etc.
  • Dog breeds who have a narrow ear canal, e.g. Chinese Shar-Pei, Bulldogs and Chow Chows, etc.
  • Dog breeds more prone to allergic disorders (atopy), e.g. West Highland White Terriers, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, etc.


If your dog has an ear infection, it’s most likely to be itchy to some degree, so scratching or pawing at the ears, head and neck is often one of the first visible signs that you may notice. Other symptoms to look out for include –

  • Frequent shaking of the head.
  • A bad odour coming from the ears.
  • Discharge in the ears that can be white, black, brown, green, or yellow in colour.
  • Swelling or redness in the ear canals.
  • Yelping from pain when the ears are touched.
  • In severe cases, bleeding from the ears.


Regular inspection and care of your dog’s ears can go a long way towards helping prevent ear infections. Cleaning the ears at home is relatively simple if you follow a few guidelines. Taking your dog for a walk before you clean their ears works off some excess energy and can make the ear cleaning quite a bit easier.


You shouldn’t clean your dog’s ears too often, because this can cause irritation. Don’t use anything to clean your dog’s ears except a cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian. If you’re unsure about how often you should be cleaning your dog’s ears, or how to clean them, consult your veterinarian.  Cleaning the ears at home will not treat an ear infection. Your dog needs to get medical attention as soon as possible. Untreated ear infections can be extremely serious, and you need to contact your veterinarian if you suspect your dog has an ear infection.

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