Smelly Dog Ears....Could Be a Sign of a Yeast Infection in Your Dog's Ear
By Jacqueline Harris
Oh, how dogs love rank scents! The smellier the garbage can, the more tempting. A barrel full of fish? Canine cloud nine! Same barrel of fish, left in the sun for a couple of days? Pure paradise for your pooch. Your dog will chew, carry, bury, examine, swallow, and roll in anything that's pungent just for the pure pleasure of doing it. You can always scoop up Scooter and drop him in a sudsy tub to undo his best efforts. Then you get to tolerate the wet dog smell for a while. For dog lovers, all these malodorous events are part of the charm of loving a canine. There is a limit, though, to the nasty smells we should tolerate. When your normally musty mutt becomes downright stinky, and a bath doesn't seem to help, notice if he's exhibiting any other symptoms. Is he moping, shaking his head, whining, or rubbing his ear? Do you observe symptoms like redness, warmth to the touch, swelling, discharge, or crusty skin? Most of all, do his ears smell really bad? Then he probably has a dog ear yeast infection of some type of dog ear infection. Take him to the veterinarian to diagnose the problem.
A dog ear infection can come from any of several different causes, including the following:
- bacterial infection
- grass or other item lodged in the ear canal
- sores caused by matted hair
- ear mites
Of these, mites, which are parasites contracted from being exposed to an infected dog, is the easiest condition to treat. If grass, matted hair, or some other item is lodged in the ear canal, the vet may or may not have an easy time extracting it, depending on how far in it's stuck. If the item has caused lesions in the ear, the open sore may become infected with bacteria. Most bacteria can be readily treated with antibiotics. However, repeated use of antibiotics can render them ineffective and can cause problems in the rest of your dog’s body, including, you guessed it, yeast overgrowth. Once yeast gains a foothold in an animal or human, it can become very difficult to treat, and may even become a chronic condition. So the best way to treat your dog’s ear yeast infection is to do whatever possible to avoid it in the first place.
To that end, do whatever you can to keep your dog's ears clean and dry. Since yeast thrives in a moist environment, sunshine and air circulation are yeast's natural enemies. If your dog will tolerate it, hold back his ears for a short period everyday with a head band. (Only do this when your dog is indoors or resting, not when he's running through tall grass or swimming.) Again, if your dog allows you to, hold a hair dryer set on low several feet away from your dog's ears and dry the insides for a minute each. Ask your vet how to clean the inside of your dog's ears with a vinegar and water solution. Not only is vinegar a mild desiccant, it also acidifies the environment, further discouraging yeast growth. Finally, vinegar will help to neutralize nasty odors emanating from your dog's ears.
So enjoy your pet's doggy nature, but if he starts to really stink, investigate. He may need more help from you than a bath and may be suffering from a dog ear yeast infection.