Dog Ear Scatching

Dog ear scratching can seem innocent, and sometimes it is, but if your dog has itchy ears it should not be ignored as it could be a sign of other dog ear problems. Luckily most of these problems can be treated easily as long as they are caught early enough.

How often should a dog actually scratch?

Dogs are all different from each other, so too much scratching for one dog might be quite normal for another, but you generally shouldn't catch your dog scratching more than once or twice a day. If you can find the time, spend a few days just hanging out with your dog and watching their behaviours; knowing how often they normally scratch will help you figure out when there's a problem.

What can cause dog ear irritation?

There are several different causes of dog ear irritation. Here are four of the most common issues:

  • Debris – Debris from outside or even around the house can get into your dog's ears and cause irritation and even serious injury. Dogs are particularly likely to get debris in their ears if they spend a lot of time playing in wooded areas or swimming.
  • Allergies – Dog allergies frequently cause skin problems in and around the ear; these problems are usually marked by red, bumpy or swollen skin around the ear flap.
  • Yeast infections – The most common type of ear infection in dogs is yeast infections. This is because dogs' ear canals are warm, dark, and moist, making them the perfect home for yeast and other fungi.
  • Bacterial infections – Bacterial infections usually grow alongside yeast infections.

Checking your dog's ears

If you're concerned that your dog may be suffering from an ear infection, check their ears right away. It's also a good idea to check your dog's ears once a week even if you don't think anything is wrong. This allows you to catch potential problems early, saving your dog a lot of pain and you a lot of money at the vet's office.

You can check your dog's ears by following these steps:

  1. Bring your dog over

You don't need any special equipment for this, but you want to make sure your dog is comfortable in their environment. You want them to sit directly in front of you.

  1. Check ear flap

If your dog has floppy ears, you'll want to lift their ears and check the bottom of the flap. Your dog's ears should have a light coating of yellowish-brown ear wax covering the flap and the inside of the ear.

What to look for:

  • Inflammation of skin around the ears
  • Bumpy skin/rash
  • Yellow, brown or bloody discharge
  • Odour

If you notice any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian right away.

  1. Feel the skin

You can wear a pair of gloves for this, but you're not going to stick your hands directly into your dog's ears so it should be fine. Gently feel around the entrance to the ear and along the edges of the ear flap. If you notice any bumps, swelling or dry/flaky areas, call your vet immediately.

  1. Repeat on the other side

Dogs frequently have issues in one ear but not the other, so be sure to take a good look at both.

  1. Give your dog a treat

Checking the ears isn't as stressful as cleaning them, but your furry friend still deserves a treat for behaving well during the process.

What should you do if you notice something wrong?

If you see any of the symptoms listed above, call your veterinarian right away. Some of these problems can be caused by debris in the ear, but usually they're a sign of a more serious infection.

How can you prevent future problems?

The best way to prevent future ear problems is to clean your dog's ears on a regular basis using a specialised dog ear cleaning solution such as our Pro Pooch Dog Ear Cleaner. Most dogs should have their ears cleaned once every 3-6 months. Dogs who frequently go swimming should have their ears cleaned at least once a month.

Final advice

Dog ear scratching can be a sign that your dog is suffering from a serious health problem, but most of the time it's no reason to panic. Caught early, most dog ear infections can be treated in 2-6 weeks with one or two medications. Your furry friend will be back to normal soon enough, and then you can start a regimen of preventative care to avoid future ear infections.

Want to know more about taking care of your dog's ears? Check out our FREE guide, How to Clean Dogs' Ears