You’ve sniffed under the sink. You’ve done the laundry check. You know, where you check the pile of towels you accidentally left in the washer for two days before putting them in the dryer. That’s not it either. Then you spot your dog shaking his head, and you come closer. Holy Stink! What has he swallowed? Sound familiar?
Why do my dog’s ears smell is an age-old hunt-and-sniff mystery, and we invite you to join us to explore some of the reasons why. As with any good mystery, there’s some prep work involved. You’ll need to monitor your dog, and pay attention to his head movements and how he holds his ears. This is as much for your safety as his.
You’ll want to make sure you approach him for further inspection when he’s calm and content. Next, you’ll want to focus on the ear itself. Having his favorite treat or toy handy can go a long way in making this part of your sleuthing more successful. You’re going to need to examine his ears, and it’s safe to say that he may not like this one bit. Trust your nose, and follow the stench to its source.
Examine the external area around each ear, as well as the crown of his head in between his ears. Then shift your focus to his ear canal. You’ll want to have a flashlight, if possible, to aid in seeing as deeply into the canal as your pup will allow. You are looking for any lacerations, dried blood, discharge or pus, all commonly associated with ear odor. If there are any visible wounds, you’ll need to clean and treat them, or depending on the severity, and your comfort level, schedule a visit for your veterinarian to assess the situation further. If there is fungus, a bacterial infection, or a mite infestation, these can result in a buildup of foul-smelling discharge. Fungal infections are associated with a waxy, brown discharge that is often thinner is consistency. Bacterial infections are generally recognized by yellowish green pus. If your dog has a mite infestation, it will be characterized by a grainy substance which looks similar to dirt or coffee grounds. ALL of these infections are extremely putrid and pungent, and will need to be treated immediately to rid your pet (and your house) of the stench. Now that you’ve uncovered the mystery smell you have two options:
- Visit your veterinarian for professional treatment.
- Use a safe dog ear disinfectant to treat at home quickly, easily, and inexpensively. In addition to to killing the parasites and bacteria, a disinfectant will lower the pH in your dog’s ear slightly making the canal less susceptible to a recurring infection.
And that, my dear Watson, is why your dog’s ears stink.
- How to check for dog ear problems, PetMD
- Ear Infections in Dogs, Pet Health Network