Dirty ears in puppies

Ear health is important in puppies, as excessively dirty ears can go to later develop infections that can lead to hearing loss if left untreated for long periods of time. It is normal for dogs and especially puppies to have a thin layer of slightly sticky caramel coloured wax lining the ear canal. What you will need to keep an eye on is a build up of thick brown wax that can build up on the rest of the inside of your pup’s ear.

Is that dirt or wax in my puppy’s ears?

The build up of this dark coloured material is likely to be a mix of both dirt and wax as a build up of sticky wax will trap more of the dirt and the dirt in your pup’s ear will cause more wax to be produced and the cycle continues. Puppies and dogs with long, floppy ears that hang down (pendulous ears) such as Groodles and Cavoodles, are more susceptible to ear infections and ear mites as their hanging ears provide a nice warm and moist environment for the infection, yeast or ear mites to thrive.

Why does one of my dogs get dirty ears and the other does not?

Many owners will notice that one of their dogs seems to have dirty ears much more frequently than other dogs that they own. There can be a number of reasons for this. The first was described above, in that dogs with hanging ears provide a better environment for dirty ears than dogs with ears that are upright. Some dogs seem to produce an excess of ear wax that will need to be cleaned out more regularly than other dogs that don’t produce as much. This is often genetic and not a result of the breed as 2 puppies from the same litter can produce differing amounts of ear wax. Another reason why some dog’s ears are dirtier than others is that some dogs and breeds of dogs grow more hair in their ears than others. Pure bred Poodles for example often need to have ear hair plucked to reduce the amount of hair in their ears to make cleaning easier and much more efficient. Many of the designer breeds that have a Poodle parent may also need to have ear hair plucked out but this will often be a lower proportion of individuals and often also less hair that needs to be plucked out.

Are dirty ears a sign of ear mites?

If your dog has ear mites then it is likely that they will have a very dark brown to almost black wax build up in their ears, but often the dirt and wax build up is just dirt and wax. If you or your veterinarian suspect that ear mites may be responsible for your puppy’s dirty ears then you can apply an ear cleaning solution to your dog’s ears that will both act to clean the ears as well as kill any of the microscopic ear mites that may be in there. Most puppies will have ear mites at some stage of their life and many flea treatments will also kill the ear mites along with the fleas.

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