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. My small female terrier constantly licks my cocker spaniels eyes and ears. The cocker’s ears are red and sore from the habit. Help, please. How do I stop this behavior? I have to treat the cocker with some cortizone cream because they are so red.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianJuly 4, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    I dont think the terrier licking the cocker spaniel is a cause of the ear infection. Many dogs will lick their housemates place of weakness. Cocker spaniels are very prone to chronic skin/eye/ear allergies as well as secondary infections. I would recommend seeing vet for evaluation of these underlying causes to best treat the problem.

  3. I have a 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd/Lab Mix. I noticed he was shaking his head to one side, acting more tired and eating a lot more than usual. His ear was really red so I took him to the vet and he had a mild ear infection in his right ear, and I got medicine for him. A day later at night, his left eye became swollen, smaller and super red with a light color discharge. His other eye has a little discharge but not very red and looks normal in size. I flushed his eye and tried cleaning it up, and it improved but it is still pretty bad. It almost looks like pink eye? Are these related? How should I help his eye?

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 6, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    I dont think eyes and ears connected, although allergies can sometimes cause eye and/or ear inflammation. Nothing I can recommend for at home use for eyes, so best to have vet recheck for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

  5. My 4 year old corgi/beagle mix has one ear that is red and very dry only on the inner part. The other ear is fine. She isn’t scratching it that I have seen and there is no discharge or smell. Her ears are pretty clean on both sides, and she has no other symptoms. I only noticed the redness today. What should I do for her?

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 12, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Sounds like simple allergy. Try benadryl orally at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. If no help within a few days, or symptoms worsen, see vet for assessment

  7. I noticed my dogs one ear has a little black thing so I clean it out and then cleaned it with some ear solution then after that my dog ear. Really red after work what should I do

  8. I noticed my dogs one ear has a little black thing so I clean it out and then cleaned it with some ear solution then after that my dog ear. Really red after the ear cleaner put in

  9. 85 pound female boxer. 6 yrs old. Her ears are red n warm. She only gets wax build up in one ear. Wonder about allergies n what to do??

  10. my puppy is 3 months old, just got her Sunday. slept last 3 night fine, tonight she is running from spot to spot plopping down and won’t sleep. Her ears are hot and she is very itchy. Scratching face and ears all day, very runny nose. She is on clavamox for a rash on her belly. I looked for fleas and saw none, she was given advantage a week ago. Going to bring to vet tomorrow, anyone have any idea. ear mites?!?

  11. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 28, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    Best to wait for vet assessment for further changes or medical advice.

  12. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 28, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Allergies are possible. You could try oral benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily as well as great topical product like zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds. If signs persist or worsen, see vet for full workup

  13. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 28, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    See vet if symptom or lesion persists. I also like the product zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds for routine ear care.

  14. my one year old hound dog again scratch I got her ears yesterday morning now today her ears are very red and she’s walking around with her head tilted to the side consistently shaking her head whining and scratching at them when I massage them to make them feel better it seems like there is water inside of her ears what can I do

  15. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 16, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Best to see a vet for exam and evaluation….. you could try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds.

  16. My dog is going to be two years old I don’t have the money right now for the vet her ears are red and she’s shaking her head is there anyway I Can Do Some Thing At Home I feel so bad last year she had this problem and it cost me 306 dollars do you think ,benadryl will work

  17. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 22, 2014 at 12:32 am

    You can try oral benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily. Also can try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds. If no help then see your vet

  18. My dachshund is 5 years old and has been in perfect health until recently when he got an ear infection, one ear is worse than the other and I bought zymox otic drops without HC by accident and didn’t help at all he just scratched more so we took him to the vet and she told us he had a bacterial ear infection and also suffered from allergies either from food/enviorment. She charged us almost 150 for antibiotics, steroids, an ointment for his ears and a shampoo for his thinning hair on his back but doesn’t seem like any of It helped past the third day, I also wasn’t sure if I’m supposed to routinely clean his ears out while still using ointment but the steroids made him seem dehydrated and after three baths of the shampoo we noticed a NEW balding spot so I don’t know what to do, if the vet just wanted as much money as possible or even knew what she was doing but if my dog does have allergies does that mean nothing can be done about the itching/redness and uncomfort ability of his ear infection until his allergies go away? Please help my dog is my everything and it breaks my heart to see him in pain/uncomfortable.

  19. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 22, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Most of time allergies can be controlled but not cured There is new drug called apoquel which you can read and/or ask your vet about. Also can try various antihistamines such as zyrtec at dose of one half mg per pound once to twice daily. Yucca intensive and proanthozone from 1800petmeds also may help a bit.

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  21. My dogs left ear is red and is irritated. Smells now but no puss or anything coming out. Could it be an ear infection or just something stuck in it?

  22. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 19, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    I doubt something stuck in it. Most likely an ear infection from underlying allergies. You could try zymox otic HC from 1800petmeds which may help, or you could see vet for exam and evaluation .

  23. I have an 11 month old Yorkie4/Shihtzu/Bischon mix (female) unfortunately her hair was matted really bad so I had to get her shaved down 🙁 …this was on Saturday, 4 days ago, I realized that she keeps twitching her head to the left, and I feel as though it is really bothering her. So last night, I took a look in her ears, and both of her ears are extremely irritated and Red. I do not see a discharge, nor does it smell. Is there anything I can do to relieve her from this irritation? Please help. I feel so bad for her. She wants to be held and is being so sensitive (wants excessive amounts of kisses) Thank you very much in advance.

  24. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianOctober 23, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Probably should have vet exam to make sure no ear infections, which may need prescription topical antibiotics. You could try zymox otic from 1800petmeds as well as antihistamine like benadryl at dose of 1 mg per pound twice daily, which can help allergy basis for ear issues.

  25. My 12 year old cocker spaniel has black waxy build up all over his inside flaps of his ear. I have never seen it like this before. It seems to be spreading. His inner ear seems to be a little red.

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