6 Signs of Ear Infections in Dogs

6 Signs of Ear Infections in Dogs
September 6, 2021

Do you think your dog might have an ear infection? If so, you may be wondering which symptoms can let you know for sure. There are a few primary symptoms of ear infections in dogs, as well as some secondary ones that commonly go along with the main list. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of them so you can recognize problems as they occur.

Dog ear infection

In the article below, you’ll find more information about the six most common symptoms associated with dog ear infections. Read through them and be ready to ask your veterinarian for more information if necessary as well.

Defensive of the Ear

If your dog has an ear infection, he may become defensive of his ear. He may guard his ear by moving his head out of the way while he is being petted or groomed, or he might growl or snap if you try to pet or look at his ear.

If you notice your dog becoming more aggressive or, conversely, more fearful when you try to touch his ear, this is a very good indicator that he has an ear infection. He may have another problem causing this pain, however, so you should take him to the vet for a diagnosis.

Oozing from the Ear

When your dog develops an ear infection, he is likely to have some oozing from his ear. This oozing is usually a combination of wax and pus, although it may include other substances as well. You will likely see this oozing if your dog’s ears are small or if they stand up, but you may not notice it much if your dog has long, floppy ears.

If your dog’s ears are oozing, you should take him to the vet. This symptom is most commonly associated with ear infections, but it can also be related to tumors and other more serious ear problems as well.

Strong Odor from the Ear

Strong odors coming from your dog’s ear can also be a symptom of an ear infection. If your dog’s ears are infected, they are likely to develop an odd or  foul smell from the presence of the bacteria causing the infection. This may be more noticeable in dogs with long or floppy ears.

Odors in the ear can also be a sign of other problems, such as tumors or ear mites. Like the other symptoms on this list, it’s important to take your dog to the vet if you notice this problem.


Many dogs do not run a fever with an ear infection, but it is still possible that your dog might. Any time your dog’s body is fighting off an infection, he may develop a fever. This fever is likely to go away in a few days after your dog has been on medication for his ear infection for a while.

Fevers can, of course, be related to a variety of other illnesses too. Never ignore a dog’s fever, and work to figure out what might be causing it. Go to the veterinarian as soon as you notice your dog is running a fever.

General Signs of Pain

If your dog is in pain from an ear infection, he is likely to show other general signs of pain as well. He might hide or be unwilling to interact with the family, and he might become very lethargic. He may also be aggressive or defensive if he is in a lot of pain.

Another common sign of pain in dogs is a lack of interest in food. If your dog goes off of food for a day or two while he’s sick, this is okay. However, if he stays uninterested in food or if he is showing signs of growing weakness, take him to the vet right away.

Head Tilt

A head tilt is another good indication that your dog has an ear infection. Just like young human children, dogs with ear infections are likely to hold their heads more toward the side of the affected ear. This may look cute, but if the behavior happens all the time (and not just when your dog is looking at something he’s interested in), it’s probably a sign of an issue.

Dogs do this because tilting their heads relieves some of the pressure that builds up in the ear from an infection.

Talk to a Vet if Your Dog Has an Ear Infection

Did you find out everything you needed to know about signs of ear infections in dogs? If you suspect your dog might have an ear infection, it is important to take him to the vet right away. Ear infections usually don’t clear up without some form of medication, so you should work with your vet to ensure your dog is receiving the right treatment plan to help him.