Stinky Pet Ears by Dr. Sarah Martin

Oh my… what is the smell?

As warmer weather is coming there are a number of conditions we see with more frequency at a vet clinic. One of them is stinky ears.  Stinky ears are itchy. Most commonly it is a yeast otitis—an overgrowth of yeast in the external ear canal. It has a characteristic smell and often goops of brown discharge. The ear canal gets even more inflamed in response to all that yeast and it is itchy! These dogs are uncomfortable to say the least.

Why do we see more of it in the warmer weather? It can be associated with swimming and excess moisture in the ear canal. It is often associated with airborne allergies; when things start to bloom, so do the ears!!

Some infections happen only once – these are great! We treat, they go away and they never happen again. Some happen over and over again. These dogs need to be investigated. If we can figure out why, great! Remove the cause! For example: dogs and cats with food allergies have recurrent ear issues. Unfortunately food allergies only account for a small percentage of allergies in dogs. Please do not embark on a ‘food trial’ without talking to us at Park Road Vet Clinic. We have lots of things for you to read. A food trial is very difficult to perform correctly; merely changing the food is NOT a food trial!

Often we can not figure out why some ears are prone to recurrent yeast overgrowth. We feel these pooches are kept the most comfortable by preventing infections. We may prescribe some medications that are used once or twice a week to keep everything in check.

Also, all vets have heard of many strange things pet owners have cleaned their dogs ears with. Mineral oil or hydrogen peroxide are not going to help. Tea tree oil can be caustic depending on the preparation and the dog’s sensitivity. If those ears are stinky we want to see them before you clean them out. If you must clean them, there are specially formulated ear cleansers that you can purchase from us or you can use a dilute mixture of white vinegar and water (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water). In order to clean properly: flood the ear, rub, let shake and wipe excess out. Please don’t use cotton swabs. It is hard to hold your pooch still and you are likely to push the goop down further! If you are experiencing stinky ears either chronic or every now and then, come on in and see us. We have medications that can help and we will often do a swab and look under the microscope to ensure we are not dealing with any surprises like resistant infections!