Why does my dog have itchy ears?

Hi, my name is Dr. Uri Burstyn I’m a veterinarian in Vancouver, BC, and I’d like to welcome you to my series of practical skills for pet owners I’m here to talk to you today a little bit about dog ears. This is another one of those questions that’s come up on my Youtube channel, and I’d love to discuss with you a lot of people asking me about what to do about their dog’s inflamed ears and honestly ear infections, and I’d love to make air quotes, but you know I’m not gonna make air quotes ear infections are probably one of the most common things we see in veterinary practice with dogs dogs are always coming in with itchy ears, or rubbing their face on things, and let me just start off by saying 99% of the time, and I’m not gonna say a hundred because nothing’s 100% sure in life but 99% of the time, ear infections and dogs are a manifestation of food allergy. Alright, there you go. I just said it I wish more vets said that. Your dog has ear infections,. it probably has a food allergy You have no idea how many times I’ve seen dogs who are eight, nine ten years old, have had probably a dozen ear infections treated at various vets before they came to me and the owners are resigned to it. They’re like, yep, my dog gets itchy ears two or three times a year and we just put some drops in and it gets better and you know, we do ear swabs we work it upright we do food exclusion trials and the dog stops getting ear infections. This is the rule not the exception. Now there’s other reasons why your dog might have itchy years and let me just show you Amber’s ears. Amber has beautiful ears You can see that skin’s a nice light pink salmon pink color we call it really just kind of light pink. The hair is nice and fluffy around the opening of her ear canal So these are really beautiful healthy dog ears when you start seeing redness, like proper red redness, on the inside of the skin or you start seeing a lot of waxy build-up there that’s probably a sign of inflammation inside the ear and again, the vast majority of those are gonna be an infection that’s happened because your dog has chronic allergies because that skin’s inflamed and then bacteria and yeast just decide to set up shop there after some time and typically, these animals have uncomfortable ears year round, it’s just at two or three times a year it gets really bad and the owners notice and take them to the vet for the ear drops but those ear drops does not fix the problem they do make the patient more comfortable, but they don’t fix the underlying issue which is allergic dermatitis Now there’s of course other causes why ears can get inflamed in certain parts of the world Grass seeds that work the way the ears and get stuck in there. That’s usually pretty obvious Those are really mucky wet ears. A lot of people talk about plucking ear canals and about excessively hairy ear canals and my honest opinion is that that is just an old school thing that should be forgotten. You know, the only thing you’re gonna do about plucking an ear canal is irritate the skin there and make your dog feel worse It’s a very painful procedure, certainly can be done under sedation, but very few people bother to do that and really all you’re gonna do if you pluck hair from your dog’s ear canal its irritate the skin. Now, a dog’s ear canal is incredibly long and it’s L-shaped, shaped like this, and having done a lot of video otoscopy where we actually go in there with a fiber-optic camera and inspect the ear canal I can guarantee you, anybody who’s plucking a dog’s ears is plucking maybe the top ten, twenty percent of the canal There’s hair all the way down in some breeds You’re not gonna get at it no matter what you do in an awake animal so really the plucking those air canals is not doing much and you’d be better off trying to figure out what the underlying cause is, usually allergies and treating it appropriately and then preventing all of that build-up and all of that discharge from happening. So if there’s one takeaway that Amber and I would like you to get from this video, is that if your dog gets recurrent ear infections, don’t just treat the infections, look for the underlying cause and it’s probably going to be a food allergy. Treat that and then your dog is going to be much much more comfortable. It’ll save you some money and recurring vet visits and that’ll be better for everyone, right? So thank you for watching. I hope you find that valuable Amber wants to thank you as well No, she just wants to look at me and beg for a treat, but I’m sure she appreciates your attention Thank you very much for watching. Have a good day. Thank you very much for watching. Please click like and subscribe Feel free to share this video with your friends and if you want to support our good work Please check out our web store. We have some adorable Squish the Cat merchandise there for you Please give it a look and once more thank you very much for watching my videos.

100 Replies to “Why does my dog have itchy ears?”

  1. I feel this warmth inside every time I watch your videos. It's like that warmth you feel when you're by a fireplace in the winter or having hot soup on a sick day. Thank you for your videos 😊

  2. Amber looks at you so lovingly. How old is she?
    Thank you for the information. Our girl doesn't have ear infections but I always like more knowledge.

  3. I am so glad you made this video. My sister has a dog who is nearly 11 now who has had ear infections pretty much his entire life, and she feeds him table scraps and all sorts of other things. She just resigned to "well he's just a dog that gets them all the time."

  4. Very helpful. I do have to note that I don't even own a dog, ever have owned a dog or will own one in the near future. One day, if the circumstances are correct I'm getting a dog.

  5. I thought cats had finally taken over your channel, ha ha. Your videos about cats get all the views, but I'm glad you have not forgotten about dogs!

  6. That's interesting. Can the same food allergy problem apply to a cat who's ears always itch? Are there certain foods that are the most common culprits or is it too wide a variety to list? Thanks for this great channel.

  7. I’d like to see a video about inappropriate elimination in cats. Especially when it isn’t related to UTIs or Bladder infections. I’m dealing with a cat that has had a bunch of tests and is physically fine but eliminates outside of the box maybe once a month/every 2 months. I’ve been told it can be behavioral/anxiety/nervousness. It would be cool to see a video that covers this side as I can only ever find stuff about physical problems.

    Of course, to anyone else reading who is going through inappropriate elimination with their cat, TAKE IT TO THE VET FIRST. 😁

  8. This is good to know but I have a dog (poodle/Bichon cross) which is prone to urinary tract infections. She has been on a Hills Prescription Diet product for UT control. When we took her off that in favour of another Hills product that was “hypoallergenic “ she had a terrible time with UT infections so… not doing it.

  9. Hello Dr. B.
    1st off….WAHOO! for a dog video!
    Can I ask why no mention of Otodectes (ear mites)? I noted you mentioned bacteria and grass seeds, but do you include Malassezia sp yeast infection as part of the 'bacterial' side of things. Surely not caused by a food allergy but down to hot/humid environment by having constantly damp inner ears? – I personally don't pluck ear hair, but I do trim the inner parts with scissors, just to get a bit more 'airflow' into the ear. I clean my Rotties ears on a regular basis with ''CleanAural'' (an ear wash), and now and again apply ''easOtic'' (Hydrocortisone aceponate and Miconazole / Gentamicin) drops which I'll use if he gets a yeast infection. I use a spot on treatment for fleas, but it's a combination spot treatment called ''Advocate'' , which not only covers fleas, but also lice, ear mites, sarcoptic mange, demodicosis and round, hook and whip worm. But I buy it mainly because it kills the Demodectes, should we be unlucky enough to encounter someones dog that has them.

    Oh, and I have to say my offer still stands! – Have a good weekend. Best. Dawg.

  10. I used to work at a pet store and people would not believe us when we tried to tell them this and recommended a food change instead of drops!!! I'm so glad you are making these videos so people can hear this from a vet! These videos will save so many pets from all kinds of unnecessary discomfort and I love this channel so much for it! Please keep doing what you're doing! Also, just curious: in my experience bully breeds are especially prone to food allergies, have you found that to be true in your practice?

  11. Thanks can't get over how good of a girl Amber is!!!! She's so wonderful!
    Also I really wish, when I had my first dog, we were told about the food allergies. We just figured it out ourselves by accident. We just decided to swap his food because this other type of food looked good (Avoderm). Bam, never an ear infection again.

  12. Thank you for this video! I'm a veterinary student and I learn a lot from this channel! Please keep up the good job 🙂

  13. Hello, I love your videos! I was wondering if you could give a video on pancreatitis. My elderly cat has pancreatitis and of course we work closely with our vet on the problem, but any time I tried to read up on the condition online, it's just confusing. There doesn't seem to be a consensus on where it comes from, or why it hits cats and dogs differently, and how exactly it can manifest. Is this something you could cover sometime? I love your dedication to public education on animal issues!

  14. Please please please do a video on feline diabetes. I have an insulin dependent diabetic cat and I wish I had known more about it before he was diagnosed.

  15. Hmmm my boy has had issues with his ears alot recently you can tell something is bothering him. I assumed it was just itchy from wax but i might have to take a closer look

  16. I know you already have a long list of video ideas, but! I would really appreciate one on cats and bacterial ear infections, and anal gland issues. Love your videos!

  17. Could you please make some helpful recommendations on a healthy food to feed cats, how much, and how often they should be fed? I know you probably don’t want to get into brands, but honestly I’ve tried everything marketed as the “the healthiest, grain free, etc.” I have a young, sensitive, calico cat. Yes, she has ear infections a lot! I just want to help her be as healthy as possible because I love her so much! I know how important diet is to a cat’s well being. I just don’t know what to feed her anymore! Thank you!

  18. I love DOGS and CATS, don't know what is wrong with me, currently I a have a hedgehoge dating service going on at the food plate with "left over stuff". I want to see more hedgehog stuff 🙂 🙂

  19. If I try a food change is it best to go gradually? And how long should I wait to see results before trying a new food?

  20. Dr. Yuri, my cat itches her ears all the time, so much so that she is balding near both of her ear openings. Is it an ear infection? I know I should take her to my vet no matter what. But I’ve only had her for a few months and thought it would subside. I hope it isn’t the food that I’m giving her. It seems like the highest quality food out there with real ingredients!

  21. One of the things I used to educate my clients about at the grooming salon was that their dogs' skin issues were most likely due to food. It's kind of crazy how many issues can be resolved by cutting out bad food!

    PS- As an Amber, I just wanted to say thanks for the compliment about my ears. 😉

  22. When I got my dog 5 years ago (she was 7ish then) she had very very serious ear infections (to the point where permanent disfiguration/damage has occurred and she had partial hearing loss) which I tried treating ever since. Nothing worked though, no meds, none of the 3 hypoallergenic dog food brands that we tried worked. The meds only temporarily lessened the itching (only lessened, the itchiness never ceased completely). Now her hearing is slightly better (she's not completely deaf but it's a close thing) but seeing as it stayed the same for a few years I think it's as good as it's ever gonna be. And her ears still sometimes itch but with the meds it's manageable. If it is allergy I don't know what to and I have no idea how to deal with it, and if it's not allergy, none of the meds my vet prescribed managed to heal it completely. I'm baffled. But I think we got to the point where it mostly doesn't bother my dog anymore and 98% of the time her ears don't bother her as opposed to the previous constant itching and pain so while I would prefer it to go away completely, I'm grateful we could lessen it at least.

  23. Dear Dr. Burstyn, I watch all your videos because they are extremely helpful! I have a male Mainecoon cat with severe health problems. Max (that's his name) is 5 years old and about 2 years ago he was diagnosed with feline eosinophilic granuloma. Our vet took a blood test for the diagnosis and she takes good care of my dear cat, but she also said that this is a rare condition so there isn't much we can do. Max is suffering from lip ulcer and he also has a spot beneath his tongue which gladly isn't causing him any problems while eating. Our vet says it might be due to his overactive autoimmune system. He also scratches himself until he starts bleeding. It is worst around his ears and tail. He also has a food allergy and there is only one type of food he can eat without getting diarrhea. His sister Marie is completely healthy. Currently he ist getting cortisone injections. They normally tend to stop his symptoms for 5 months. So that the lip ulcer heals and he stops scratching. But lately the intervals have become smaller. Max hates car rides and thus going to the vet who won't come to our place always ends in him throwing up or peeing. I was wondering …is cortisone really the only option? I am worried about side effects. And could I as a pet owner learn to inject him myself, so that if the intervals become smaller I won't have to put my boo through all those dreaded car rides? Could you show how to inject a cat? I am not sure if the cortisone is injected into muscle tissue though. Thank you again for all your helpful videos. I am currently trying to get Max used to me touching his gums so that I can easier inspect his mouth. Best wishes from Germany

  24. Hey i love your channel and i would like to ask this of u, for me and everyone else who has a car or dog. Can u please make a video of products that are harmful 4 your cat/dog that may look safe but can hurt them. 4 ex. My dogs almost died eating blue buffalos dog food! And someone who brought blue buffalos dog treats to the park were making dogs puke. I want people to now what is safe 4 there animals so they can all be happy! THANKS!

  25. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Never knew food allergies causes so many problems. Which makes me think of gluten free products for animals too. Hmmmm! Love your videos.💕✌🏼🐶🐱

  26. How do you figure out what she's allergic to? My dog has been on Apoquel to "treat" her allergies, but it doesn't really address the root issue, just treats the symptoms. I don't know what she's allergic to and we have her on a salmon-based diet- no chicken, wheat, corn, or soy (4Health Sensitive Skin). When we rescued her she came to us with a skin infection, and has had a few since then. Lots of problems between the toes. If I forget to giver her medication, she is itchy all day. My vet said we could try a blood test at some point, but that it's not super conclusive. Where do we go from here?? Thanks!

  27. I just want to say THANK YOU for being open about dog food allergies! It's a huge struggle as a pet owner to wonder why your animal is suffering and the answer, most the time, is honestly just as simple as finding the right food … I experienced it with a previous dog who, as you noted and pointed out, always had ear infections until we were told it was food allergies – and that was after countless vets and visits for ear drops and medications! Now it took me 2 years to find the right cat food/formula for my newest animal before she stopped suffering from her stomach issues (basically cat version of IBS) Even if most of your information is 'common knowledge' it's really not that 'common' for most people and I appreciate you putting out your experience and information for the masses of 'pet parents'. Respect and love!

  28. – The 5 negative votes / thumbs down are maybe from cat owners, who are no-doubt sitting hissing and spitting at this video.

  29. Sorry, I commented under the wrong video! I was looking at the one on the cat and the nails and I clicked the back button! :/

  30. Hi what type of food caused allergy ? My shih tzu gets infections in his ears very often. I feed him royal canin for shih tzu but he also gets "human" food- cheese etc.

  31. Please make a follow-up video about the most common foods that dogs are allergic to and what foods are generally not causing allergies. Thanks and more power to your lovely channel!

  32. So how to treat allergy? my dog has issues with ears 4 years already, small pimples inside the ear I couldn't find treatment yet.

  33. When I adopted my second dog from the shelter, the DVM at the shelter said "chronic ear infections" as if that were her lifelong condition. Took her to our favorite clinic and our personal DVM said exactly what you did. Switched her off chicken and grain and she hasn't had an ear infection since we got her!!

  34. I would be interested in a video about how to pick food for your pet. How to tell if they like it, if it’s healthy, and the possible benefits/pitfalls of trying to make your own. I imagine pet food is a pretty controversial topic but with so many brands it’s hard to know what’s hype and what’s legit!

  35. Well I'll be danged. That's the first time I've heard that. I never would have thought food allergies could cause this. Very intetesting. Beautiful dog! Goldens are awesome.

  36. my golden retriever has some food allergies and smelly ears, but i don't know what food causes it. She doesn't eat human food, she loves fruits and veggies but not giving them to her doesn't change anything, and we tried many kinds of dog food but her ears are still the same… what else could i do?

  37. I wish you were in my town, you seem like a very honest likable vetenerian , you said something that I never hurd a veterinarian mantion, and I listen to vetenerians lots including several vets, pets feel no pain,
    I have 3, 2 rescues and my yorkie , the best gift God has gave me, besides my kids 😁
    You mention removing the hair inside the ears is painful, everyone seems to think is not
    Most ignorant people seems to think, pets feel pain including vets,
    no one can't convince me,
    I am so bad, I care for my
    Lexy cooper and bear equally, there litte hearts their emotions,
    if people would try to learn, there face expressions, eye movements, there body language, I read my doggies like my children lol!! I tell people I stay here, but my babies own the house, the bank account, the car has 3 carseats, the meat in the freezer is not mine,
    You will find little beds
    Little couches, litte stairs toys everywhere, and this kids are not moving any time soon 😂
    So if you don't like dogs
    It was nice knowing you lol!!
    I think my problem right now is the Pollen
    Everything is green dust,
    I groom my own,
    But Groomers need to know, It causes pain
    So sad ☹
    Thank you for your information Godbless,

  38. why did't he grab amber by the collar during the whole video?
    Amber seems so calm and relax she won't leave.

  39. Thank you for your YouTube Channel

    Dr…. You're services are greatly appreciative 🙂

    I take my pets for it's yearly checkup , Seattle's near First Hill.

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