Signs Of An Ear Infection In Your Dog: What Happens If It’s Left Untreated - STATVet Animal Urgent Care | Tulsa Emergency Veterinarian | Tulsa, OK
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Signs Of An Ear Infection In Your Dog: What Happens If It’s Left Untreated

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Signs Of An Ear Infection In Your Dog: What Happens If It’s Left Untreated

One common issue that can affect dogs is an ear infection. These infections can be painful and distressing for your furry companion, but you can ensure a swift recovery with early detection and proper care. In this article, we’ll delve into the various signs that may indicate your dog has an ear infection, its potential causes, and how to offer the best possible care for their ear health.


dog ear infection

Be Vigilant About Your Pets Well-being


If you notice any of the following signs, your dog may be experiencing an ear infection:

Persistent Scratching and Pawing

Is your dog constantly scratching or pawing at their ears? This could be a clear indicator of an ear infection. When their ears are infected, the constant itching and discomfort drive them to seek relief through scratching.

Unpleasant Odor

Foul-smelling ears are another sign of a possible ear infection. If you detect an unpleasant odor emanating from your dog’s ears, it could indicate the presence of infection or inflammation.

Redness and Swelling

Check your dog’s ears regularly for any signs of redness or swelling. Inflammation is a common response to infection, and it may be visible in the outer ear or ear canal.


Keep an eye out for any discharge from your dog’s ears. The discharge may appear as wax, pus, or a combination of both. The color and consistency of the discharge can provide additional clues about the type of infection.

Sensitivity to Touch

If your dog shows signs of discomfort when you touch or handle their ears, it could indicate pain or tenderness resulting from an infection.

Tilting Head or Shaking

Dogs with ear infections often tilt their heads to one side or vigorously shake their heads. This behavior is an attempt to alleviate the discomfort caused by the infection.

Loss of Balance

In severe cases, an ear infection can lead to a loss of balance or coordination in your dog. This symptom requires immediate veterinary attention.

Changes in Behavior

When dogs are in pain or discomfort, their behavior may change. They might become irritable, withdrawn, or display aggression. If you notice any unusual changes in your dog’s behavior, it’s worth investigating further.

Visible Debris or Foreign Objects

Inspect your dog’s ears regularly for any visible debris, dirt, or foreign objects that could be causing irritation or contributing to the infection.

Hair Loss or Scabs Around the Ears

Chronic ear infections may sometimes lead to hair loss or scabs around the ears due to persistent scratching.

Hearing Loss

Untreated or recurrent ear infections can potentially lead to hearing loss in dogs. If you suspect your dog is not responding to sounds as usual, a visit to the vet is necessary.

Rubbing Ears on Surfaces

Your dog might rub their ears against furniture or the ground as a response to the discomfort caused by the infection.

Ear Hematomas

Ear hematomas, or swollen, blood-filled pockets on the ear flap, can develop as a result of aggressive head shaking. This condition requires immediate veterinary attention.

Disorientation and Confusion

Severe ear infections may cause disorientation and confusion in dogs. They might seem disoriented, aimless, or unable to recognize their surroundings.

Loss of Appetite

When your dog is in pain, they might lose their appetite. A sudden decrease in food intake could be related to an ear infection.

Hot and Painful Ears

Place your hand gently on your dog’s ears. It may indicate infection if they feel hot to the touch and your dog reacts with discomfort.

Inflamed Ear Canals

Upon close inspection, you might notice that your dog’s ear canals are red, inflamed, or swollen.

Bleeding or Pus

A severe infection may cause bleeding or pus discharge from the ears. If you observe this symptom, seek veterinary attention promptly.

Reluctance to Be Touched

Dogs with ear infections may become sensitive to touch and avoid contact around their ears.

Head Tilt

A head tilt is a common sign of an ear infection and indicates that the inner ear may be affected.

Frequent Head Shaking

If your dog shakes their head frequently throughout the day, it’s a sign of irritation or discomfort.

Pawing at Ears

Dogs often paw at their ears when they are experiencing ear discomfort or pain.

Unsteady Walking

An ear infection that affects the inner ear can lead to balance issues, causing your dog to walk unsteadily or appear dizzy.

Ear Sensitivity

Your dog may show signs of sensitivity when you touch or examine their ears, indicating pain or inflammation.


A dog with an ear infection may exhibit lethargy and a lack of energy due to the discomfort they are experiencing.


dog ear infection



What Happens If It’s Left Untreated?


If left untreated, an ear infection in a dog can lead to serious consequences and negatively impact your pet’s overall health and well-being. It’s crucial to address ear infections promptly to avoid complications and provide your furry companion with the care they need.

Chronic Pain and Discomfort

An untreated ear infection can cause constant pain and discomfort for your dog. The irritation and inflammation in the ear canal can lead to persistent itching, scratching, and head shaking, which further exacerbates the condition. This chronic discomfort can significantly reduce your pet’s quality of life and may even lead to behavioral changes.

Hearing Loss

Untreated ear infections can cause damage to the delicate structures of the ear, including the eardrum and the tiny hair cells responsible for hearing. In severe cases, the infection can lead to partial or complete hearing loss in the affected ear.

Ear Hematomas

Aggressive head shaking due to untreated ear infections can cause blood vessels in the ear flap to rupture, leading to painful ear hematomas. These swollen, blood-filled pockets require medical attention and may necessitate surgical intervention.

Inner Ear Infections

In some cases, untreated ear infections can progress to affect the inner ear. The inner ear is responsible for balance and coordination, and an infection in this area can cause dizziness, disorientation,

and difficulty walking.

Secondary Infections

Left untreated, ear infections can weaken the immune system’s response in the affected area, making it more susceptible to other infections. Secondary bacterial or fungal infections can develop, complicating the initial condition.

Costly Treatment

Delaying treatment can result in a more prolonged and complicated recovery process. As the infection worsens, it may require more extensive medical intervention, such as repeated vet visits, additional tests, and prolonged courses of medication. This can lead to higher veterinary bills compared to early intervention.

Behavior Changes

A dog suffering from an untreated ear infection may display behavioral changes. The constant pain and discomfort can make them irritable, aggressive, or fearful. They may also become more withdrawn an

d avoid interaction with family members and other pets.

Spread of Infection to Other Ears

If the infection is caused by bacteria or yeast, it can spread to the other ear if left untreated. This means that your dog may end up with infections in both ears, doubling their discomfort and the need for treatment.

Weakened Bond with the Owner

Dogs are highly attuned to their owners’ emotions and care. If their ear infection is left untreated, they may associate their discomfort with the owner’s attempts to help, leading to a weakened bond between the two.

Abscesses and Fistulas

In severe cases, chronic ear infections can lead to the formation of abscesses or fistulas in the ear canal, causing even more pain and requiring complex surgical procedures.

Systemic Infections

While rare, severe untreated ear infections can lead to systemic infections that affect the entire body. Bacteria from the ear can enter the bloodstream and spread to other organs, leading to potentially life-threatening conditions.



Don’t Wait

Ear infections in dogs should never be left untreated. Early detection and proper treatment are essential for ensuring your pet’s comfort, preventing complications, and preserving their overall health. If you suspect that your dog has an ear infection, consult your veterinarian or contact us here at STATVet. We have veterinarian specialists on staff that can properly diagnose and treat dogs or cats with ear infections. We are open nights and weekends for your convenience. We know illnesses don’t always wait until business hours. Our animal urgent care is here for you.