Dog’s Ears Red & Hot

Why Are My Dog’s Ears Red & Hot? The Most Common Diagnosis

Important Points

  • Allergies most often cause red and hot ears. In most cases, an ear infection is secondary.
  • Parasites and endocrine disorders can cause ear problems in dogs.
  • A veterinarian’s accurate diagnosis will lead to a more targeted treatment plan and a faster recovery.
  • By implementing allergy control measures, you can reduce the frequency of ear allergies.

Have you ever woken to discover that your dog’s ear suddenly became red and hot? It can seem like ear problems appear out of the blue, making your dog miserable. This article will show you how to help your dog.

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Dogs with inflamed ears are often diagnosed with otitis external, a condition that refers to the inflammation of the outer parts of the ear. Often mistakenly labeled as ear infection, the real cause is allergies. Allergies can cause inflammation, which in turn causes infections.


As with humans, dog ear infections can be caused by viruses. Contrary to some internet pundits’ claims, bathing and swimming are unlikely to cause ear infections unless your dog has allergies.

It’s important to know that it isn’t the main disease when your dog’s ears become red and hot. It is more likely to indicate a deeper problem that needs attention. Many factors can cause your dog’s ears to be red and warm.

Environmental allergies

Pollen is the most common allergen in dogs. Dust mites, wool, and other animal dander can also cause dog allergies. Other symptoms of environmental allergies include excessive foot licking and reverse sneeze.

Food allergy/sensitivity

Pollen allergies are more common in dogs than food allergies. Some dogs have skin problems after eating certain proteins, even though they don’t have food allergies.


Parasites are more prevalent in dogs that spend much time outside and interact with other animals. Ear mites can cause severe itching and inflammation of the ear canal and may lead to secondary bacterial infections.

Foreign objects

Occasionally, we find foreign objects deep inside a dog’s canal. The most common foreign object in a dog’s ear is grass seeds, or “foxtails”. Removing them promptly can cause irritation, inflammation, and secondary infections.


Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland cannot produce enough hormones for metabolism regulation. Skin disease is one of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism. You may experience chronic ear issues, hair loss and dry skin.

Other Causes

Dogs’ ears have many blood vessels that help cool down the body. You may notice that a dog’s ears are particularly hot or even blushed in color if they have a fever. These dogs will display other symptoms.

What causes ear infections in dogs due to allergies?

Normal for dogs to carry a few yeasts and bacteria in their ear canals. When their allergies flare, the ear’s skin becomes moist and inflamed.

Microorganisms can grow due to changes in pH, an increase in wax production and a decrease in airflow. Secondary bacterial and yeast infections can make inflammation worse.


Even though ear problems aren’t always visible, your dog may show signs of an ear infection.

You must seek veterinary treatment when your dog displays any of these symptoms. If left untreated, ear infections can cause your dog to be uncomfortable and painful.


  • The dog is constantly shaking its head.
  • Head tilted one way.
  • When the ear is scratched, the canal has a liquid-like sound.
  • Dogs avoid having their ears touched.
  • Scratching your ear with the sole of your foot
  • After scratching the ear, a dog licks his paw.
  • Other dogs are licking or sniffing the ears more.
  • The dog rubs its face on the furniture or ground.
  • One side ear drooping


  • The ear is red, hot or warm.
  • The inside of the ear flap is covered with red bumps or scabs.
  • Crusty debris in the ear canal
  • The inside of the ear flap folds red in dogs with floppy ears.
  • Increased ear wax and discharge (brownish, gold-colored or greenish).
  • Odor coming from the ear canal.

Should I take my dog to the vet for an ear issue?

Consult a veterinarian to get your dog back on track immediately. Some cases, however, require immediate attention.

  • Monitor and observe: If your dog’s ears have a pinkish color inside, but he has no other symptoms, you can monitor the situation. You will only need to take action if the condition worsens.
  • Schedule an appointment as soon as possible: The dog shows multiple symptoms, including redness, heat and discharge. You should make an appointment with your veterinarian within the next two days.
  • Seek immediate veterinary care: Your dog’s ears are red and hot. They’re constantly pawing or shaking the ear and acting in distress. Seek immediate care. Although an inflamed or painful ear rarely causes death, the pain can be so intense that a dog may injure itself for relief.


It is easy to tell if a dog’s ear is inflamed. It’s important to also identify secondary infections and the underlying cause.

  • Physical Exam: The vet will examine your ear to check for foreign objects, parasites, swellings, tumors, and other abnormalities. The vet will also examine the eardrum to determine if it is normal, as this can rupture in severe cases.
  • Cytology: Secondary infection is identified by a microscopic inspection of ear debris. If your vet suspects that an unusual organism may be present, it is necessary to perform a bacterial culture.
  • Other Tests: Dogs with chronic, recurring ear infections can be tested for allergies and treated with desensitization. They may also require a blood test for hypothyroidism or an allergy test.

Treatment of dogs with an ear infection

Treatment of otitis externally in dogs aims to eliminate secondary infections, reduce excessive wax production, and remove debris.

Ear cleaners and medicated drops are usually used as basic ear treatments. Apoquel(r), Cytopoint(r) or other systemic antiallergy medications can also benefit some dogs.

Ear cleaners

Ear cleaners contain liquids to remove debris from an infected or inflamed ear. Salicylic acid is also found in many cleaners and has a mildly antimicrobial effect. Other ingredients can include wax-breaking substances, antibacterial agents and acidifiers.

EpiOtic (r) and Duoxo Micellar (r) are two common brands of veterinary ear-cleaning products. Zymox (r) ear cleaners have also been effective in milder cases.

Topical ear medications

Many topical ear medications for dogs contain multiple drugs that treat inflammation and infection. Vets often prescribe Otomax (r), Mometamax (r), Posatex (r) and Claro r.

Short-term home remedies

Home remedies for mild ear swelling may help you feel better until you see a veterinarian.

Clean out debris

  1. EpiOtic Advanced (r) ear flush. For best results, you must flood the canal. The nozzle should be directed down towards the opening of the canal. Squeeze until liquid is almost flowing out of the ear canal. Massage the base of your ear for several seconds. Remove any excess liquid with soft cotton. Use swabs and do not wipe or swab vigorously. If you see blood, stop immediately, as this indicates excessive skin irritation.
  2. Saline solution. If you cannot get EpiOtic, you can buy a sterile Saline Solution at a local pharmacy. Do not use contact lens solutions or any other solutions that contain additives. EpiOtic should be applied according to the instructions.
Solution for Ear Infections

Pet King Brands Zymox Solution for Ear Infections

Topics for relaxation

  1. Almond Oil. Almond oils help to dissolve the excess wax and grease in infected ears. Almond oil can be found in the cosmetics aisle of natural grocery stores or online. Place 4-6 drops in the ear canal. Use soft cotton to blot away any excess oil gently. Massage the base and the ear. Coconut oil is an alternative that has mild antibacterial qualities.
  2. Zymox(r) Ear Treatment. Zymox contains enzymes that have antimicrobial action. Follow the instructions on the label.

These remedies should only be used briefly and not as a treatment. Consult a veterinarian to diagnose and treat your dog’s ear problems.

Maintenance and prevention

The majority of these suggestions are inexpensive and do not require a prescription. These products are useful for dogs with mild ear infections and can prevent further flare-ups.

Identify allergens, and desensitize.

Identify and avoid the triggers to prevent your dog from getting ear inflammation. A veterinary dermatologist will be able to determine which allergens are affecting your dog. The allergy desensitization treatment is available as home injections or drops.

Check for food allergies.

Your veterinarian can prescribe a hypoallergenic food diet to treat allergies. Food allergy trials involve feeding the hypoallergenic food for a few weeks to determine if symptoms improve.

Avoid exposure to allergens.

It is important to help your dog avoid allergens. This will improve their ear health. Avoid outdoor activities at times of high pollen, and bathe your dog frequently to remove pollen and dust.

Use a HEPA filter to eliminate dust and pollen from your home during allergy season. Your dog’s bedding should be washed at least once per week.

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