Why Is My Dog Itching His Ears?

As pet parents, we’ve all experienced that moment of concern when our dog starts incessantly scratching their ears.

You might be sitting on the couch, enjoying a quiet evening, when you hear that familiar rustling and notice your furry friend persistently pawing at their ears.

The sight may leave you puzzled and anxious, wondering, ‘Why is my dog itching his ears so fervently?’

This article aims to unravel this mystery, shedding light on the reasons behind your dog’s itchy ears and providing you with the knowledge to help alleviate their discomfort.

An Insight Into A Dog’s Ear Anatomy

To understand why your dog might be scratching their ears, it’s helpful to first appreciate the intricate structure and function of a dog’s ear.

Understanding A Dog’s Ear

A dog’s ear is a complex organ that goes far beyond our human understanding of ears.

Unlike our flat, external ears, dogs have ‘L’-shaped ears, with long, winding ear canals that descend vertically and then horizontally towards the eardrum.

This design, while excellent for hearing, can make their ears a hotbed for issues, providing an environment where debris, moisture, and parasites can accumulate and cause problems.

The Role Of A Dog’s Ear

Besides hearing, a dog’s ears also play crucial roles in their communication and balance.

Changes in position, movement, and appearance of the ears can tell other dogs – and observant humans – about a dog’s mood and intentions.

Also, the inner ear is integral for maintaining a dog’s balance.

Any disruption, such as an infection or inflammation, can affect not just their hearing, but their overall behavior and equilibrium.

Identifying The Causes: Why Dogs Scratch Their Ears

There can be numerous reasons why your dog is relentlessly scratching their ears.

Let’s explore the common culprits.

Parasitic Infestations

Ear mites, ticks, and fleas are notorious troublemakers that can invade your dog’s ears, causing itchiness and discomfort.

Particularly, ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ear canal and feed on the wax and oils, leading to severe itching, inflammation, and a distinctive dark discharge.


Much like humans, dogs can have allergies too.

Certain foods, environmental factors, or substances can trigger an allergic response, manifesting as itchy and inflamed ears.

Persistent scratching due to allergies can make your dog’s ears vulnerable to secondary infections.

Bacterial Or Yeast Infections

Dogs’ ears are an ideal environment for bacteria and yeast, especially if they’re moist or compromised due to allergies or parasites.

These infections can cause significant itching, redness, swelling, and often a foul-smelling discharge.

Foreign Bodies

Sometimes, foreign objects such as grass seeds, dirt, or small toys can find their way into your dog’s ear canal.

This foreign presence can cause immediate discomfort and intense scratching.

If you suspect a foreign body is lodged in your dog’s ear, it’s best to seek immediate veterinary assistance to avoid any further complications.

Recognizing Symptoms And Diagnosing Ear Problems

Recognizing and diagnosing ear problems early is crucial to prevent further complications and to ease your furry companion’s discomfort.

Symptoms Accompanying Ear Itching

In addition to scratching, dogs suffering from ear issues may exhibit other signs such as head shaking, unbalanced movements, or tilting the head to one side.

You may also notice physical changes like redness, swelling, discharge, or a pungent odor from the ear.

Some dogs may show behavioral changes like irritability or loss of appetite due to the discomfort.

When To Consult A Vet

While occasional ear scratching is normal for dogs, persistent itching, especially if accompanied by the above symptoms, should be a red flag.

If your dog’s ear scratching becomes frequent or intense, it’s time to consult your vet.

Early detection and treatment can help prevent chronic problems and possible hearing loss.

Treatment And Prevention: How To Help Your Dog

With the right care, most ear problems in dogs can be successfully treated and even prevented.

Treating Ear Problems

Depending on the underlying cause, treatments may vary.

For instance, bacterial or yeast infections may require a course of antibiotics or antifungal medications, while parasites like mites might be eliminated using specific anti-parasitic treatments.

Allergies could be managed with dietary changes, antihistamines, or corticosteroids.

It’s important to follow your vet’s treatment plan closely for the best outcome.

Regular Ear Checks And Cleaning

Regular ear inspections and cleaning can go a long way in preventing ear issues.

Clean ears weekly with a vet-recommended cleaner and cotton balls – but remember, never use cotton swabs as they could damage your dog’s delicate inner ear.

Look for any signs of trouble like redness, swelling, or bad smell.

If you notice anything unusual, contact your vet immediately.

Preventative Measures

Prevention is better than cure.

Keep your dog’s ears dry, especially after swimming or baths, as moisture can foster the growth of bacteria and yeast.

Regular grooming can help detect and deter parasites.

If your dog has allergies, work with your vet to identify and avoid allergens.

Understanding why your dog is scratching their ears is crucial.

It not only relieves your dog’s discomfort but also prevents further complications that could impact their hearing and balance.

Regular ear checks, a keen eye for unusual behaviors, and prompt veterinary care can help keep your dog’s ears healthy and itch-free.

As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and in this case, a little knowledge and proactive care can ensure happier, healthier ears for your dog.

Before You Go…

Now you know why your dog is itching his ears.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Or watch this video:

Mena Emad, DVM
Mena has a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. His expertise, passion for animal welfare, extensive knowledge, and experience in the field of veterinary medicine make him an excellent resource for our readers.