One of the most frustrating things that my clients complain about is the pet who can not stop scratching his ear.  They will scratch all night keeping everyone awake.  No one is comfortable and most definitely the pet.

The most likely reason for this is an ear infection.  This occurs when the yeast and bacteria which normally live in the ear grow out of control.  This can be due to a number of causes including:

  1. Allergies
  2. Water or Foreign Body trapped in the ear
  3. Parasites (ear mites) 
  4. Genetic abnormalities of the ear 
  5. Masses in the ear canal 

The body then responds to this overgrowth of organisms by sending out  immune mediators and white blood cells which then result in red, itchy ears and even discharge.

Symptoms of an ear infection include:

  1. Scratching
  2. Red, swollen ears
  3. Bad odour
  4. Discharge
    1. brown
    2. black
    3. yellow/white

Ear infections are diagnosed by: 

  1. Otoscopic Exam
  2. Ear Swab
  3. Sometimes culture
  4. Other tests to rule out the primary cause 

Prevention includes:

  1. Keep ears clean and dry
  2. Good Quality diet
  3. Monitor ears closely for any odour and/or discharge 

Treatment is geared at treating the underlying cause as well as treating symptoms.


  1. Cleansers
  2. Antibacterial/antifungal and steroid ear drops
  3. Medications instilled in a waxy base which are placed in the ear and removed at a later date 
  4. Sometimes oral medications are required as well.  

If you think that your pet has an ear infection it is important to speak with your veterinarian about and get a proper diagnosis before you start any treatments.