Why Do My Dogs’ Ears Stink?

Why my pet has smelly ears

What are the colors and look of your dogs’ ears? Go ahead, take a peek. Does the skin look cute and pink, showcasing a light yellowish coating? Well, that’s ear wax.

However, when you notice a sudden change in your pup’s behavior such as frequent head shaking, constant scratching with paws, rubbing on the carpet or furniture, take another look into the ears. Do your dog’s ears look way too reddish, can you see a dark brown discharge? Wait, the dog’s ear smells like fish? Make your way to the vet to check the reason behind your dogs ears’ smell will make sure your puppy doesn’t have an ear infection.

5 Reasons That Cause A Dog’s Ear To Smell

Your dog’s ears could smell for various reasons stemming from harmless causes to harmful ones where contaminations in the dog’s ears might require diagnosis, treatment, and medication from a veterinarian.

1. Ceruminous Otitis

Ceruminous Otitis [1] is the swelling of the external ear canal. Otitis Externa may be acute or chronic – lasting at least months. Ceruminous Otitis is common in puppies and may be unilateral or bilateral. A vet’s exam includes a visual inspection of ears, otoscopic procedure, and cytological examination of the otic contents.

Changes occur in the external ear canal in response to inflammation including dilation of glands, gland hyperplasia, hyperkeratosis, and epithelial hyperplasia. All the changes result in increased cerumen production. Consequently, the external canal’s pH levels and humidity spike lead to issues like secondary infection.

Acute otitis is treatable however in recurrent conditions the doctor might find it way too challenging. Once there’s enough information for a diagnosis, the doctor will use the information to prescribe the right medicine to use.

2. Ear Infections

Your dog naturally produces bacteria and yeast in their ear canal. But in a conducive environment where dampness and warmth are present, like in baked bread, the two cook up a severe inflammation in your dog’s ears. Smelly ears are a sign of what your pet gets from any one of the two.

Yeast Infection

Contaminations from yeast are regular and produce a musty odor from your dog’s ears — the infection results from candida overproduction in your pup’s body.

A vet visitation within a few days of the yeast infection will help avoid smelly dogs’ ears. Antifungal drops can help treat the dog as well. Food allergies may cause your dog to smell. Ensure you provide your dog with foods to reduce yeast infections.

Bacterial Infection

A bacteria infection causes acute symptoms such as redness, swelling, noticeable pain, and others. The discharge will cause pus or blood spots. As for the odor, a bacteria infection is a severe stinky dog’s ears culprit. Your pet’s vet help identifies the problem and offers antibiotics either as ear drops or an oral solution. In non-responsive routine infections, the veterinarian performs a culture to give correct antibiotic treatments.

Something people should know about pup care

3. Ear Mites

These pesky parasites are a common occurrence in kittens’ ears. However, they might have found a home in your dog’s ears, leaving you with dog ear problems to solve. Smelly ears top the list. As if not enough, ear mites are microscopic, and only a vet can spot them under an otoscope. Before concluding it’s a mites infestation with your naked eye, visit a veterinarian. You will be shocked to learn it’s normal dirt build-up. Make no home diagnosis and make your way for the counter ear disinfecting solution for ear mites. A vet’s exam should be conclusive if it’s a mite condition.

4. Endocrine Disorders

Hormonal imbalances affect your pet, and when not treated, sometimes a dog’s infection becomes part of a problem for you and your pet. With a faulty endocrine gland, the dog’s body will react to allergies, which requires a vet’s intervention.

Endocrine disorders can easily be treated using supplements to replace the hormone lacking. For example, diabetes mellitus is treated using insulin injections. Thyroid hormone and steroid replacement are given orally. Dogs under this treatment need constant monitoring for side effects while giving the medicine periodically.

If there is a tumor, a surgery appointment remains the solution. After the tumor is surgically removed, the gland recovers and hormone replacement is no longer necessary but the treatment is a lifelong engagement for both you and your pet.

5. Foreign Objects

Does your pet love the park? During the fun time rolling on the ground outside, grass seeds might get into the dog’s ear, and if unchecked can lead to bacteria. However, it might only affect one side. The veterinarian under an otoscope should tell what the foreign object and whether middle ear infection is visible from any damages.

Does your pooch enjoy swimming and bathing? Excellent. However, though not an object, if the right amount of water gets into the ear canals, an infection is possible and a cause for concern. In worse cases, if not well-drained, the trapped water leads to smelly dog ears because of the dampness.

Veterinarians recommend using a cotton ball in your dog ears to keep them dry, well ventilated, and injury-free.

medications for hair odors

How To Know When Your Dog Needs An Ear Cleaning?

As pet owners, understanding the various type of dog breeds make it easier when using an ear cleaner to clean smelly ears. Basset Hounds and Cocker Spaniels have a higher risk for canal issues because of their long-hanging ear flap.

Symptoms like visible redness, mild odor, and head-shaking are signs that you should check your dog’s ears and develop a routine to keep the ears clean and free from ear infections in dogs.

However, when you notice signs like redness, inflammation, a lot of visible ear wax, it’s time for a date with a veterinarian. These symptoms appear when there is a dog’s ear infection.

Tips To Cleaning Your Dog’s Ears

In case your dogs ear smells bad and there is a buildup of wax, proper cleaning procedures ensure the ears smell doesn’t bring about dogs ear infections to your pet.

How to proceed:

1. Assemble all cleaning material such as ear-cleaning solution, alcohol to disinfect any tool you use, gauze, a clean towel, q tips, and a cotton ball.

2. Hold your dog’s ears firmly but gently, take the solution, and squeeze a reasonable amount into your dog’s ears. Don’t you worry if some spills off the canal? You can tie swabs on your finger to ensure you don’t go in too deep, risking tissue damage in the ears.

3. Massage all the parts of the ears gently after using the using cleaner while looking out for any inflammation.

4. Cover yourself with the towel and allow your dog to shake its head. Once your pup is done shaking, use the cotton ball or gauze, and gently wipe the canal.

Cleaning a dog's ear with lotion during bath time

When Should You Take Your Dog To The Vet For Smelly Ears

Your pets naturally smell, but infections can lead to pungent ear odor in your hound. If, after a week of cleaning offers no solution to the smell and constant scratching, it’s a sign that your pets need an appointment with a vet.

How To Prevent Smelly Ears In Dogs?

Keeping your pets clean generally avoids smells. However, paying attention to the ears evades infections in dogs’ ears.

If your dog enjoys rolling in the grass, the issue is debris might be caught on them, risking some getting into the ear. Always brush off any foreign objects carefully from your pets after a play day in the park. When out for a swim, ensure cotton balls are in place to prevent excess moisture trapped, causing dog ears infection.

Care for your pup by using home solutions

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a dog ear infection go away on its own?

Yes, a dog ear infection can go away on its own. For uncomplicated ear infection in a dog, 1-2 weeks of recovery time is sufficient for it to clear up. However, if your puppies are still showing a sign of ear problems after two weeks, make sure you visit a vet to get it check under a microscope and start treatment immediately to avoid chronic problems.

Can you put hydrogen peroxide in your dog’s ear?

No, you cannot put hydrogen peroxide in your dog’s ear. This standard household product can irritate your dog’s healthy skin cells. Dog ears are sensitive, and cleaning it with the solution can lead to serious conditions resulting in things like smelly dog ear tags. Use products approved by a veterinarian.

Can I clean my dog’s ears every day?

No, you cannot clean your dog’s ear daily. The frequency at which you clean your dog’s ears depends on the breeds, age, ear wax, fur hair coat, and your dog’s activity level, especially outdoors. One time for your dogs is sufficient every month. However, 2 times for dogs who love to swim is good at keeping their ears dry and clean.


An infected dog ear will cause your puppies life issues like sleepless nights and leaves a dog ear smell for the family to battle. However, monitoring your pet’s daily growth and unusual behavior can ensure you work to keep your dogs safe from contaminations for life.

Understand your dog breed and care for their nutrition and diet as well. Food allergies can have an effect that lead to your dogs’ ear to smell bad.

The best you can do for your best friend is consulting a vet in cases where the ear infection is rampant regardless of taking all the right steps in treating the signs of smelly dog ears.