dog ear wax

Dog Ear Wax: What to Use for That Dog Ear Discharge

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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Is Ear Wax Normal for Dogs?

Is Ear Wax Normal for Dogs

Dog ear wax is normal, but only in small amounts. A tiny amount of dog ear wax is, in fact, a sign of healthy ears with a functional self-cleaning system.

However, too much dog ear wax is troublesome and indicates health issues. One of the most common causes of excess dog ear wax production and build-up is ear infections.

The dog ear wax build-up is like an enchanted circle – the more wax, the better environment for pathogens to thrive and contribute to the ear issue.

What Color Should Dog’s Ear Wax be?

Under normal circumstances, the dog ear wax should be yellow or light brown. The base of the ears should be clean from discharge and the inside pink, free from odor, and free from redness and irritation.

What Causes Excessive Ear Wax in Dogs?

Excessive dog ear wax can be the result of several conditions such as ear infections, ear mite infestations, and dog allergies.

According to PetMd, certain dog breeds are more prone to producing excess ear wax. Those breeds (Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, English Bulldogs, and Poodles) usually have floppy ears, large ear flaps, and hairy ear canals.

What is the Difference Between Ear Wax and Ear Mites?

Dogs with ear mite infestations often have black or brown crusty ear wax. Dogs with ear infections tend to have more reddish-brown or yellow wax build-up.

Ear mite infestations are caused by parasites and result in ear wax build-up. Ear infections, on the other hand, can be triggered by bacteria, yeasts, or physical irritation.

Vets can determine whether the dog ear wax contains ear mites by analyzing a was sample under a microscope. Namely, a dog with ear mites will have excessive ear wax build-up, while dogs with ear wax build-up may or may not have ear mites.

How do I Know if My Dog Has an Ear Infection?

How do I Know if My Dog Has an Ear Infection

Dog owners should look at several factors when determining whether they are dealing with dog ear infections.

First, the dog’s ears smell can give hints on the presence of infection. If a pup’s ears smell stinky or stale, it is likely that there is an infection. Second, in dogs with ear infections, the inside of the ears will be dirty with dark brown or black discharge and visibly irritated.

Other signs indicating ear infections are changes in the dog’s behavior, head shaking, pain when touching the dog’s head and ears.

What is the Brown Stuff in My Dog’s Ears?

According to German Town Vet, there are a few causes of brown gunk inside a dog’s ears:

  • Excessive Earwax. This is the most likely reason for the brown substance in a dog’s ears. Earwax production is normal and nothing to be concerned about. However, too much wax can lead to an ear infection, so watch out for other signs, such as scratching and rubbing of the ears, frequent head shaking, or redness and swelling.
  • Fungal Ear Infection. A dark brown discharge with a pungent, musty odor most likely indicates a fungal or yeast infection. This is often caused by excessive moisture build-up in the ears.
  • Ear mites. Crusty, blackish-brown build-up resembling coffee grounds in a dog’s ears is a sign of ear mites. Ear mites are tiny insects that can make dog’s ears their home. Left untreated, ear mites could make a pet lose its hearing.
  • Outer Ear Infection. Also known as otitis externa, an outer ear infection is characterized by a yellow, waxy, or reddish-brown discharge. Such infections can be caused by allergies, polyps, or any of the above problems.

What Do I Need to Clean My Dog’s Ears?

In order to clean a dog’s ears, it’s necessary to have a dog ear wax cleaner with a special cleaning applicator. Listed below are a few options with the best dog ear cleaning products:

Zymox Otic Ear Solution with 1% Hydrocortisone
  • Ear care for dogs and cats - soothes ear infections, redness and inflammation for pets of all ages
  • Gentle, no-sting formula helps ease painful ear infections caused by germs, fungi and yeast
  • Solution provides a safe, natural alternative to oral medication with 1% Hydrocortisone for itch relief

Why is it Important to Clean a Dog’s Ears?

Why is it Important to Clean a Dog's Ears

It is important to maintain dog ear care in order to avoid problems resulting in the wax build-up. A dog ear wax cleaner can be purchased online and in various pet stores.

According to VCA Hospitals, a dog’s ear canal structure makes it hard for material trapped inside to get out. This is why cleaning the dog ear wax is important, as the material can cause issues such as itchiness and ear infections.

A good dog ear wax cleaner should not be irritating to a dog’s ears. It should be gentle enough so that the solution won’t strip away the natural protective oils of the ear. The ear cleaner should be effective and gentle at the same time.

How do You Get Wax Out of a Dog’s Ear?

To get wax out of a dog’s ear, they have to be cleaned. Web MD states that it is important to check with a vet to figure out how often to clean a dog’s ears.

A dog’s age, breed, coat, and activity level are just a few factors to consider.

How Do I Clean My Dog’s Ears?

How do I Clean My Dog's Ears

In order to clean the dog ear wax and maintain a healthy dog, follow these steps:

  • Be as gentle as possible at all times
  • Dribble a small amount of ear cleaning solution into the inner ear
  • As the solution flows into the ear canal massage the base of the ear
  • Repeat this with the other ear
  • Wipe the ear with cotton balls, cotton swabs, or gauzes
  • Never use Q-tips as they can puncture the eardrum.

If still unsure of how to clean a dog’s ears appropriately, consult a veterinarian or a pet-care professional.