Red painful ears and waxy gunky ears can be a real problem in some dogs. Dogs will itch and scratch at the affected ear and shake their head in a vain attempt to relieve the pain. When you lift up the ear flap to look and see what is bothering them, you may see black waxy gunk coming out of the ear canal. What causes this common problem in dogs?
Some dogs will develop red itchy ears after a swim, or a run in a field. A piece of a plant, a bit of grass, ear mites, or trapped dirty water from a swim can inflame the delicate tissues of the canal and cause an ear ache. Allergies to pollens, molds, and grasses and allergies to common commercial dog food and treat ingredients may also cause a red painful ear. Ear mites are commonly blamed for ear infections in dogs, but I have only seen this problem in a few young puppies. What can you do? If you notice the symptoms above, follow my recommendations on my free home remedy download available at www.dogdishdiet.com.
The ear canal is meant to funnel sound down to the eardrum. The drum and the auditory nerve “digitalize” the undulations on the drum to those that the brain interprets as wavelength and the sounds that your dog hears. In order to work efficiently the ear should be standing and the ear canal open and clear. In a clean and normal canal wax produced by the lining of the ear is swept outward with the microscopic bits of dust and debris that enters from the environment. In some breeds and some individuals the ear canal may be too small, the ear canal too hairy, the wax too thick or too much of it, or the ear swollen and inflamed and the wax is blocked from escaping. Bacteria and yeast love the warm soupy waxy ear gunk to grow in. Once too much wax accumulates and organisms are introduced the ear becomes”infected”. Which came first…the infection or the accumulation of wax due to a narrow or hairy ear? Water from a pond or bathing? A piece of something in there? Ear mites? Or the most common ear inflammation due to allergies to some food ingredients or pollens and molds.
However if the symptoms are severe, don’t hesitate to get your dog checked out by your vet. There could be a severe reaction or infection that needs to be treated. There could also be the rare infection with ear mites or a plant awn or foxtail in the ear. You can soften up those pieces or plants with warm water, mineral, or olive oil, and your dog may shake them out, but those little foreign plant objects often need to be flushed out or pulled out with an instrument by your vet. Ear mites can be drowned with a nice coating of mineral oil if an infection is suspected in young puppies
If you want to try to help out at home you can try a gentle washing with dilute Dawn detergent, aspirin, antihistamine, and cortisone ointment. These treatments in my free download may save your dog hours of misery till you wait for your vet to open in the morning. A dilute rinse with 1:10 vinegar and water will kill unwanted bacteria and yeast invading and swimming around in the warm waxy ear discharge. In fact rinsing the ears once to twice weekly with a ear treatment rinse or dilute vinegar and water may prevent a chronic ear problem from causing pain and needing veterinary treatment.
If these symptoms keep occurring then your dog may be one of the unlucky breeds that are affected with chronic ear and skin problems. The most popular and most allergy prone Labrador is a common visitor to our clinic. Every single day 2-3 labs come with their owners seeking help for chronically infected and red painful ears. The good news is that over 30% respond to simple changes in the diet. Dog Dish Diet may save your dog from the seemingly endless cycles of painful, gunky ears. Unfortunately veterinarians are taught to endlessly medicate, clean, and flush ears when avoiding allergens and adding healthful food and oils may help much more. I was one of those vets until my own dogs, patients, and years of practice helped me understand the underlying problems associated with chronic medical conditions so I could cure instead of patch the problems. Don’t let your dogs ear end up thickened, inflamed, and narrowed like this one.