Dog Itchy Ears at Night, Shaking Head, Home Remedies and Treatments

Dog itchy ears

Explored herein are the causes of dog itchy ears, treatment, and home remedies for the itch as well as reasons for other accompanying symptoms such as head shaking, itch at night and Benadryl to relief allergic itch.

Dog Itchy Ears

It is normal for a dog to scratch their ears and other parts of the body once in a while. However, if your dog keeps scratching and pawing their ears, you should be concerned as there are a number of dog itchy ears causes. If not addressed, these could lead to serious ear problems. The scratching could be as a result of skin problems, accumulation of ear wax, foreign bodies caught inside the ear, an injury or ear infection. While some of these can be dealt with at home, there are accompanying symptoms that warrant a visit to the vet. The details for these and more can be found below.

Dog Itchy Ears Causes

Why are my dog’s ears itchy? This is the most common question from dog owners when they observe unusual scratching. Here are some of the most common causes.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are some minuscule parasites living around or inside a dog’s ear canal. Although it is possible for them to be found in others parts of the body such as on the tail, paws, neck, and head, they are most common in the ears.

The mites feed on the dog’s blood. Their bites have the potential to cause severe allergic reactions resulting in dog itchy ears. Additional symptoms include skin sensitivity, irritation, head shaking, open sores and wax buildup. In severe cases, the dog will experience an extremely smelly ear discharge that is likely a result of secondary infections.

While ear mites can occur in any dog, they are most prevalent in puppies and young adult dogs. Since the parasites are highly contagious, dogs living in crowded and unsanitary conditions can easily get them from direct contact or even shared bedding.

Ear Infection

Ear infections in dogs are quite common, especially in floppy eared dogs. This is due to the floppy ears blocking off air circulation resulting in more retention of warmth and moisture. As a result, the environment becomes conducive to the proliferation of microorganisms. These end up causing ear infections.

Most dog infections start off in the outer ear since this is the part most exposed. Left untreated, the infection travels down towards the inner ear causing more damage. Ear infections cause dog itchy ears in addition to other symptoms such as the dog ears becoming swollen, red and hot to touch. With advancement there will be discharge and with it comes a bad odor. Ear infections can occur on one ear only. Dog ear yeast infections are especially notorious and can lead to serious itch.

Some predisposing factors that make dogs vulnerable to ear infections include hypothyroidism, swimming dogs, dogs with thick hair in the ears and dogs with an increased earwax.

Fleas

These are another set of parasites can could cause severe dog itchy ears. Flea bites make your dog uncomfortable and if not stopped could make your dog anemic. A dog with fleas on their ears will scratch excessively and shake their head too. Their elimination is important in relieving the itch.

Foreign Objects in Ear

The presence of plant debris, dirt, grass awns, foxtails, and other foreign objects in the dog’s ears is not only uncomfortable but could also lead to infections. If they travel down the ear canal, sharp foreign objects could lead to perforation of the eardrum.

When a dog has a foreign object in their ears, they will shake their head vigorously, paw and scratch their ears. A diagnosis can be made through a physical examination. The ultimate treatment is the removal of the object. Where necessary, this should be followed by treatment of any secondary infections that may have occurred.

Allergic Reactions

When a dog comes into contact with something they are allergic to, they will scratch on the part of the skin that is sensitive. Dog itchy ears could be as a result of allergic reactions. When your dog comes into contact with allergens, the skin gets irritated and inflamed resulting in itch.

To get rid of this kind of itchy ears in dogs, clearing up the environment so they no longer have contact with the allergens can help. To relieve the inflammation and itch, antihistamines such as Benadryl may be administered.

Fly Bites on Dogs Ears

Fly bites on dogs are a great annoyance. When they attack and wound the dog’s skin, the sight becomes an eyesore and adds on to the misery of your pet brought about by dog itchy ears.

Dog ears are vulnerable to fly bites due to the thinness of the skin and hair on them. The fact that dogs cannot reach their ears to drive the flies away also adds to the vulnerability. These bites result in bite wounds, redness on the skin, crusty or bloody bumps. There are different flies that cause bites on dogs. These include stable flies, bot flies, and sand flies.

The blood spots that result attract more flies and in severe cases, eggs will be laid on the ears after which they hatch into maggots. To avoid this, do not neglect your dog once you see flies on them. Instead, eliminate existing flies and use repellants to avoid fly bites on dogs ears. This will take care of the itchy ears in the long term.

Dog Itchy Ears Home Remedy – Treatment for Dog Itchy Ears

To help relief dog itchy ears, here are a number of home remedy treatments you can try.

1.      Check the Ears

Immediately you notice scratching, pawing or head shaking in your dog, check them out to identify what the cause of dog itchy ears is. This will help identify what, among the causes discussed above, could be the reason. Start by inspecting the skin around the ear and also inside to see if your dog could have a foreign object inside or whether there is an excessive accumulation of wax.

2.      Administer Antihistamines

This is most appropriate to administer in situations where the cause of itchy ears cannot be determined immediately or where allergic reactions are suspected to be the cause. These will help get rid of and prevent further inflammation thus offer a temporary relief as you seek the best way to deal with the itch.

3.      Corticosteroids

Also offering temporary relief, corticosteroids can be bought over the counter or prescribed by your veterinarian. They are highly potent anti-inflammatory drugs and are therefore quite effective in relieving dog itchy ears.

Purchase a hydrocortisone cream and apply it on itchy ear flaps as well as on any other part of the ear with inflamed skin.

Additional treatments may include ear drops, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic tablets. Ensure you talk to your veterinarian before administering any medication to your pet.

4.      Eliminate parasites

Whether the responsible parasites for your pup’s itchy ears are mites, ticks or mange, it is important to eradicate them so as to restore comfort and good health in your pet. While some parasites may only be on the dog, it is also possible for others to be in the environment. Where this is the case, it is important to treat the surrounding areas so your dog can be completely free of the parasites.

5.      Get Rid of Foreign Bodies

Where you are certain that the cause of dog itchy ears is the presence of foreign bodies and can spot them, remove it immediately. This is if it is not embedded in the skin and can easily come off. Where the foreign body is not easy for you to remove, leave it intact and take your pet to the vet.

Cleaning Dog Ears

Regular cleaning of a dog’s ear is important in maintaining its overall health. When left to build up, ear wax can serve as a breeding ground for microorganisms resulting in opportunistic infections. Washing the ears helps prevent buildup and can help soothe the ears so your dog no longer itches.

  1. While embarking on cleansing, it is important to pick a mild pH balanced and fast evaporating product. Start off by cleansing the outer part of the ear, getting out all the gunk out.
  2. Once this has been achieved, place the nozzle of the bottle with the cleanser atop the ear canal and give it a squeeze.
  • Using a cotton ball, plug the ear and massage the outside of the ear.
  1. Remove the cotton ball and let your dog shake off their head before wiping off any wax that comes off.
  2. Repeat this as advised by the manufacturer.

While this procedure can relief your dog itchy ears, it could also irritate them in case of a ruptured eardrum. If you suspect this, let the cleaning be done by a vet. Also, quit cleansing the ears if you notice your dog tilting his head to one side long after the procedure or if it seems to irritate and upset him more.

Dog Itchy Ears Shaking Head

When a dog with itchy ears keeps shaking his head, it could indicate a foreign body in the ear. Due to the discomfort that comes with having an aural mass in the ear, the dog will try to shake it off. Ear infections could also contribute to ear shaking. Since dog scratching ears is a bit hard due to their placement, the presence of fleas may cause the additional symptom of shaking the head to get relief from the itch.

Dog Itchy Ears Only At Night

A dog that only experiences itchy ears at night could be suffering an allergic reaction. This could be caused by indoor allergens such as dust. Additionally, it is possible that your dog is reactive to detergents used to wash his bedding. In such cases, Benadryl treatment can help relief dog itchy ears immediately. After this, identify what it is your dog is reacting to and eliminate it from his nighttime environment so he can enjoy his sleep.

When to See a Vet

It is not always that you may be capable of dealing with dog itchy ears at home. Some situations may warrant a visit to the veterinarian for the cause to be eliminated. Additionally, you may have doubts about what the causes are. Here are instances in which seeing a veterinarian is inevitable:

  • Where the dog is in major discomfort which makes it hard to examine the ear in addition to the itching.
  • Where a ruptured eardrum is suspected.
  • If the itchy ears are accompanied by excessive head shaking or where the dog keeps his head tilted.
  • When there is a foul odor and discharge coming from the ear.
  • If your dog portrays signs of imbalance
  • Where your dog itchy ears relief is not attained despite treatment.

References

Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 1229 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time. Author and Contribturor at SeniorTailWaggers, A Love of Rottweilers, DogsCatsPets and TheDogsBone

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