Three Tips for Smelly Dog Ears in Pewaukee, WI

As a dog owner, especially if you have a floppy-eared dog, you may have experienced a less-than-pleasant smell coming from her ears in Pewaukee, WI.  There are many reasons why a dog’s ears might give off a smelly odor, and these range from a build-up of bacteria, yeast, ear wax, dirt, or other causes.  Your dog’s ears are their little environment, so a change in odor can often signal a more significant issue. You may want to get your dog’s health checked out if there’s an odor, and while you’re waiting for your appointment in Pewaukee, WI, here’s what you need to know.

smelly dog ears in pewaukee, wi

What Causes a Dog’s Ears to Smell in Pewaukee, WI?

There are a few different things that can cause your dog’s ears to smell, and some of the most common causes of smelly dog ears are listed below:

  • Bacterial Ear Infections.  These types of infections can cause the most severe symptoms, and they can be more common in floppy-eared breeds. Dogs with bacterial ear infections will have redness, swelling, or pain, and discharge from the ear may be purulent (contain pus), and produce blood-tinged fluid. Your veterinarian in Pewaukee, WI can perform cytology to confirm the presence of bacteria and prescribe antibiotic ear drops, ointment, or oral antibiotics.In severe or resistant cases that don’t respond to antibiotics or ear cleaning, your veterinarian may recommend a culture to discern the exact type of bacteria present and the proper antibiotic treatment.  For severe infections that cause significant swelling in the ear, oral steroids might be recommended to reduce pain and swelling.  If you suspect that your dog has a bacterial ear infection, make an appointment with your vet in Pewaukee, WI as soon as possible.
  • Ear Wax Buildup.  Ear wax buildup happens to almost all dogs, just as in humans, and it may happen more frequently in specific breeds such as Golden Retrievers or Cocker Spaniels.  Ear wax is generally yellow or light brown and can cause a slight change in odor in your dog’s ears.  Ear wax buildup can be managed by cleaning your dog’s ears with a veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution.
  • Yeast Infections.  Yeast infections of the ear are common and can cause your dog’s ears to smell.  Yeast infections happen when there is an overproduction of the yeast species Candida in your dog’s anatomy, and in many cases, a yeast infection exudes a sweet or musty smell. Yeast infections can also cause redness, pain, and a brown discharge from the ear.If you think your dog may have a yeast infection, contact your veterinarian in Pewaukee, WI, because an ear infection can be extremely painful and potentially damage the eardrum. The veterinarian can swab the inner ear and perform a cytology (look at the cells under the microscope) to diagnose the problem causing the infection.  The veterinarian will most likely prescribe anti-fungal drops in severe cases, as well as a regular ear cleaner.
  • Mixed Ear Infections.  Mixed ear infections occur when both bacteria and yeast are present in the ear canal. Symptoms vary, depending on the type and number of bacteria and yeast, and signs of a severe middle ear infection include:
  • Your dog appears to be off-balance when walking
  • Your dog has a head-tilt
  • Your dog seems uncoordinated
  • Your dog turns in circles
  • Mixed ear infections should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, and for dogs that have recurrent ear infections, it’s important to identify underlying conditions.

Three Tips for Smelly Dog Ears

1. Make Sure Your Dog’s Ears are Clean

The number one tip for treating smelly dog ears starts with making sure your dog’s ears are clean and healthy.  Dogs have a natural ear-cleaning mechanism that will usually keep their ears clean, meaning that ear cleaning at home isn’t needed under normal circumstances unless:

  • Your dog has obvious dirty ears
  • Your dog has yeast build-up
  • Your dog has been swimming or has had a bath
  • Your veterinarian has recommended ear cleaning

A dog’s ears should be cleaned with a cleaner or solution specifically developed for dog’s ears.  It is not recommended to use home recipes containing vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or alcohol, as these solutions can irritate the ears and worsen the problem.

How to Clean Your Dog’s Ears in Pewaukee, WI

There are four steps to cleaning your dog’s ears:

  1. Hold the bottle of appropriate ear cleaner just above your dog’s ear and squeeze the solution into the ear. Fill the ear so that it is almost full of the solution, and gently massage the base of the ear to make sure the solution saturates the ear and loosen any earwax or debris.
  2. At this point, your dog will want to shake her head, which is fine. By shaking, the debris moves towards the outside of the ear, so that it will be easier to clean.
  3. Use a cotton ball, or ear wipes to gently wipe away any wax, debris, or dirt.  Be careful not to clean too deep down into the ear.  Cotton-tipped swabs are not recommended to clean your dog’s ears, as they may push debris further into the ear canal, and potentially puncture the eardrum.

2. Check your Dog’s Ears Regularly

To keep your dog’s ears healthy, it’s recommended to check them at least once a week, and more often if your dog has chronic ear issues. This allows you to detect any potential problems before they get worse.

When examining your dog’s ears, it’s recommended to look for the following signs:

  • Smelly ears
  • Bloody discharge from the ears (this is not normal, so contact your veterinarian immediately)
  • Discharge from the ears (this can be a sign of an infection, so contact your veterinarian as soon as possible)
  • Swollen or red ears

3. Know How to Spot Ear Problems

If your dog is having ear problems, you may also notice behavioral changes such as:

  • Your dog is off-balance when walking
  • Your dog constantly shakes her head and ears
  • Your dog is scratching at her ears
  • Your dog has a head tilt
  • Your dog turns in circles

The key to dealing with smelly dog ears is to pay attention to your dog and check her ears at least once a week.  If your dog has recurrent ear infections, you may want to talk with your veterinarian about a management regimen and explore potential underlying causes of these infections.  In any case, if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s ears, contact your veterinarian in Pewaukee, WI.

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Since 1977, Pewaukee Veterinary Services has provided progressive veterinary medicine to pets of Pewaukee and the greater Milwaukee area. We put a strong emphasis on preventive medicine and alternative therapies aimed at keeping companion animals healthy and happy. Yet, if your pet is ill, there’s no better place to entrust their care. Our animal hospital in Pewaukee not only has the most advanced veterinary equipment in the area, but also the skilled veterinarians and staff to use it.