Why is my dog scratching his ear?
My dog Ty is an eight-year-old German Shepherd cross. Recently, I have noticed that he has been scratching his ear very often, and now he will squeal as he scratches it. I took a peek at his ear and there appears to be either dried blood or dark ear wax build up, or a combination of both. I cleaned his ear, but it has since returned. Does he need to see the vet ASAP?
Thanks for your help.
Castlegar, BC, Canada
It sounds like Ty has an ear infection. Ear infections are very common in cats and dogs.
Most ear infections are not contagious. Some animals have a genetic predisposition to ear problems, and will suffer multiple infections during their lifetimes. Others may develop infections after stressful events that weaken the immune system, or if water is left inside the ear canal after swimming or bathing.
When an animal has an ear infection, bacteria and sometimes yeast proliferate inside the ear. The ear responds by making wax and turning red. A pet with an ear infection may shake his head, hold his ear back, scratch his ear, rub his ear on the ground, or wince when his ear is touched. You may notice redness, wax, or a foul odor in the ear.
Ear infections usually are quite painful, and Ty certainly sounds like he is in pain. Therefore, I recommend that you get him to the vet as soon as you can. The infection probably won't go away on its own.
There are a number of ways to treat ear infections. Mild infections usually can be cured by cleaning the ear daily with a special cleanser that your veterinarian can recommend, as well as placing a prescription ointment into the ear once or twice daily. Severe infections may require oral medication as well.