Common Ear problems of dogs & their solutions

By Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM | November 27th, 2016

The ears of the canines are so vulnerable to various problems. You could just wake up one morning to discover that your dog’s ear is swollen, like a bag filled with fluid or simply bleeding endlessly or discharging very foul smelling fluid. Many of these challenges cause a lot of stress to the dog. Sometimes you see them battling endlessly with flies perching on the ears to feed on the blood or shaking the head vigorously just to get rid of the disturbance.  

Most dog owners tend to ignore this conditions of their dogs because they have tried severally and they keep reoccurring but giving up will not stop the issue. I will like to present to you steps you can take to bring permanent solution to this problems.

I want to enumerate the most common ear problems in our environment. Our clinic (Fairvet) is in Abuja so the commonest cases are the ones I will talk about here.

Fly Bite Dermatitis

This simply means: inflammation of the skin caused by bite from flies. At the initial stage of this condition the skin of the ear is reddish in color and not easily noticeable. This progresses to bleeding which happens slowly starting from a small rounded bleeding area to a very wide one (the ear may start to thicken around this area). The dog might shake the head several times to chase the flies away and may sometimes splash blood all over the place. If you are lucky to see it at the early stage, you could prevent further bite from the flies by using some fly repelling wound healing oil to keep the flies away and allow the wound to heal. If it has progressed to a larger wound it means that the issue has been complicated by opportunistic bacteria & sometimes fungi that strive in blood so you will need a vet to treat the wound initially before you continue with the fly repelling wound healing oil. It will be better applied continuously even when it appears to be healed.

Auricular Hematoma

This is a bag-like enlargement of the ear with some fluid inside and mostly not painful when touched. This fluid filled bag is formed by the rupture of a blood vessel of the ear due to constant shaking of the head by the dog. This can be caused by factors which include: fly bite, mite infection, local bacteria or fungal infection or any irritation to the ear. Aspirating this fluid out never solves the problem it is only temporary. A minor surgery is required to be performed by a qualified vet in order to evacuate the fluid and stitch the ear flap together, closing the space created by the ruptured blood vessel. This will bring a lasting solution. The only downside is that the affected ear many not remain the same in looks but will relief the dog.

Otitis interna or Otitis Externa

This is one of the most painful ear infections of dogs. It happens on the skin within the sound pathway to the ear drums. It can happen to both ears at once or to one of the ears. When the infection is closer to the outside it is called Otitis Externa and Otitis interna when deep inside.  An affected dog may not be able to sleep or rest and may cry endlessly. The dog might keep scratching the affected ear or ears endlessly and shouting. At the early stage of this condition, the affected ear starts to discharge a clear fluid which progresses to pus fluid (creamy greenish color) that has a very bad smell. This smell can persist on you if you touch the affected ear or around the ear. This condition requires the attention of a qualified vet who will use anesthetics to make the treatment less painful to the dog. Some dogs might get very aggressive during treatment if not tranquilized or anesthetized. You may have to continue from where the vet stopped by using ear drops continuously until the infection is gone.


These are the ear problems of dog that most dog owners encounter that is worthy of attention. All these ear problems can be prevented if you can observe your dog and check the ear anytime you see them scratching their ears.

 Most dog owners here in Nigeria hardly wash the ears of their dogs. Some think that putting water and soap into the ear canal will harm the dog but this notion is false. It is always good to use cotton wool to clean the ears of your dog during their bath to prevent infection. It is also important to clean up their cages to discourage flies from disturbing the dogs. There are products to add to water that helps to keep flies away from the dogs’ kennels not disinfectants. Disinfectants are also good but not to repel flies.  

I hope this article helps you. Drop your comments if you have questions.   


    Leave a Reply

    Kodichukwu Okonkwo, DVM

    Founder of Fairvet Animal Clinic Ltd since 2011, studied at the University of Nigeria Nsukka. He is well experienced in small animal, large animal & poultry medicine, and also skilled at zoo medicine. He loves animals and builds both professional and personal relationship with pet owners in order to sustain a good interaction with pet and animal owners, coupled with His great skills in programming; he brought about which he personally built from scratch.

    View our Contributors

    Popular Articles