PetMeds® My Dog Has Red Ears – Is It An Ear Infection?


Ear disease is one of the most common presentations in the veterinary clinic. The rest of the skin and coat may or may not be involved in the ear condition. Pets with ear disease can often present with red itchy ears with varying amounts of discharge, odor and sensitivity, with one or both ears involved. The most common cause of red ears is underlying allergies, either to inhalant/contact allergies and/or food allergies.

Ear mites, while common in young pets, are rarely involved in red itchy ears of older pets. Many times red ears are often accompanied by secondary yeast or bacterial infections of the ear which can be uncomfortable and frustrating to cure. There are great products such as Zymox Otic and Zymox Otic with Hydrocortisone, which can not only treat active yeast or bacterial infections but also excellent as preventatives for ear disease.  If there is an accompanying odor and discharge, the ear cleaners Epi-Otic and Zinc Otic are often my favorites to reach for in cleaning waxy ears. However, it’s important to note that if an ear is only transiently red for a brief period of time,  that means a pet is usually only warm or excited, and an ear infection is less likely.

Have pet health questions? For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form.

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108 Comments

  1. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 15, 2013 at 10:12 am

    I would have vet check to see if antibiotics are needed.

  2. Is there any home remedies i can do? Vet bills are often expensive and thats money i don’t have at the moment.

  3. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 15, 2013 at 10:08 pm

    You can try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds. If signs persist or worsen, see vet.

  4. my dog has been acting like when i try to pick him up or pet him he growls and screams in pain and bites me he raises his rear in the air and the front end down

  5. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 23, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Need to have vet exam and evaluation for proper diagnosis of condition and treatment plan.

  6. I have a 2 year old chi. She has really red ears that seemed to drop but does not seem to be itchy since she won’t scratch or flap them. She is lethargic and does not seem her normal self. She wont’t eat just drink.

  7. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 6, 2013 at 10:43 pm

    Given loss of appetite, best to have vet exam and evaluation to make sure nothing more than simple ear infection.

  8. I have a jack Russel that is shaking her head and her left ear is red and she keeps licking her paws all vets in my area is closed and dont have the money to take her to er vet what can i do for her at home till vet opens monday??

  9. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 24, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Try oral benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice dajly until vet exam.

  10. I d id that i seen previous comments ty so much for replying back i took her today for vet exam they said it was a yeast infection in both ears and that her left ear was the worst gave me prescription for antibiotic ointment . should i still give her Benadryl till the meds start working ???

  11. Hi, I have a maltese/toy poodle 7 months old. A day ago he started scratching one of his ears,I checked today and its red to where I can see, I tried cleaning it to see if there is any wax, but nothing came out. He has hair inside the ear, is it possible the hair to cause problem? He had it cleaned 2 months ago and I clean his ears every month. It’s my first dog so I am not sure what to do. Thank you!

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 25, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Hair may or may not be contributing to the issue. Could have yeast or bacterial ear infection. Best to have vet check to help sort out.

  13. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJune 25, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    No problem using oral benadryl at same time, as most of these ear issues are secondary to underlying allergies.

  14. I have a 4yo Maltese that has always been healthy. About 2wks ago he was scratching his ears and body, I figured it was time for a bath and after I bathe him, the scratching stopped. Today his ear was flapped and I noticed a dry looking patch on the anterior side of his flap with some black waxy lookalike in the inside. It does not have bad odor and he hasnt been scratching or acting sick. Should I be concerned and/or how do I treat this?

  15. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 3, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds. If signs persist or worsen, see vet for evaluation.

  16. My dog is very old, sensitive, fragile, and has a couple bald spots. He has short hair so they’re obvious. He also has a problem with his teeth they have a lot of plaque because when we first took him he would never eat dog food so we gave him human food because of this (i think so) some of his teeth have fallen out. My sister thinks the bacteria in his mouth is being swallowed and getting into his blood stream causing his hair to fall out, but i think its cause he scratches himself to the point where he bleeds. He also will have seizure like episodes (every once in a while) we will fix this problem for the time being by giving him a little bit of milk. It works each time. We have been planning on taking him to the vet but have not yet for three reasons 1: we’re saving up the money still 2: we are afraid if we take him to the vet (and the veterinarian sees how poor his condition is) they will take him from us do to “neglect” or whatever they say because how he looks. 3: we are also afraid they might put him to “sleep”. So what do i do???

  17. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 9, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    Not much you can do at home Best to wait and have that vet visit and assessment on all of these issues.

  18. Dakota is a 5yr old female German shepherd. Continuously gets ear infections due to allergies. Has been taken to vet to get medicine…oti biotic. It seems once infection is cleared up, it just makes space for one to move in again. This is quite exhausting and costly. What are some suggestions? Home remedies? Vitamin c pill, and unsweetened plain yogurt in diet along with a vinegar/water solution rinse followed by garlic oil drops are what I found online. Trustworthy?

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 30, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    I would try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds, which can help with long term ear infection control. Also work with vet on treating underlying likely inhalent/contact allergies and/or food allergies as potential underlying causes.

  20. I have a 4 year old bulldog. One of here ears is pretty red and full brown gunk. The other ear has some brown gunk but no redness. I noticed the gunk build up in her ears about two weeks ago and started cleaning them with ear wipes. The redness started in the one ear a few days ago. She shakes her head every once in a while but not bad. Is there anything I could do home to help with this without having to take her to the vet?

  21. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 14, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    I would STRONGLY recommend the natural product zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds, which has work wonders for dogs like this with chronic yeast or bacterial ear issues from allergies.

  22. I have a 1 1/2 year old chihauaua who has a red ear and he keeps shaking his head. It’s not red when he wakes up. Only after he scratches it. It has no Oder and not real dirty. He has been like this since I took him to get his bath at the vets.

  23. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianFebruary 23, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Could still be mild ear infection perhaps from water getting in ear or underlying allergy. Best to take back to vet for exam and recheck.

  24. Hi
    I have a 4 year old golden retriever. Every spring his right eat (inner) gets red, warm to hot and the ear wax/discharge is brown and smells? Any home/over the counter suggestions?

  25. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianApril 15, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds.

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