Dog Scratching Ear And Shaking Head (Causes & Remedies)

It’s kind of normal for a dog to occasionally scratch his ear and to shake his entire body after going in for a swim, but if your dog is frequently scratching his ear and shaking his head for no apparent reason at all, you need to step in and try to assess the situation by figuring out the cause behind his actions.

In this post, we will cover the possible causes behind your dog scratching his ear and shaking his head, but before we do, let’s cover some basic information that might be essential later on. Make sure to pay close attention to the small details since they might prove helpful to you as you continue on to your quest.

Why Is My Dog Scratching His Ear And Shaking His Head?

If your dog is scratching his ears and shaking his head at the same time, there is a high possibility that your pet is undergoing some type of ear infection. Even though this isn’t true for all cases, but for most of the time, you can reasonably say for sure that the source of irritation is originating from his ears.

What Do I Do For Dogs With Itchy Ears?

If you have noticed that your pet is scratching his ears to a point where you consider it excessive, you need to first check the areas around the ear and especially underneath those earflaps. You might see scabs due to incessant scratching, maybe parasites if you are lucky enough, and even a bad odor generating from his ears.

If you see some sort of external signs such as this, we might be able to treat them with medication, but sometimes, the problem might be even deeper than that. Problems with your dog’s ear canals and nerves inside his ear might be the cause behind all that scratching, so if you can’t figure out the cause, take your dog to a vet immediately!

Causes Behind Scratching Ears & Shaking Head

As I have mentioned before, some of the causes listed here are dealing with external symptoms while others might be covering the internal ones. If your dog continues to scratch his ears and shake his head even after you have given him the medication, please seek professional assistance before it is too late.

1. Existence of Foreign Objects

Since dogs love spending their time outdoors, they probably also love rolling around the grass, exploring varying clumps of bushes, and sniffing around tall trees. During their playtime, foreign objects such as small sticks, pebbles, and even grass seeds can make their way up into their ears.

Even though it may be harmless at first, the situation will start to worsen as your dog begins to scratch his ears. Due to your dog’s touch and violent head shaking, the foreign object will start to go deeper and deeper inside his ear canal until it gets stuck, which can pose a serious threat to your dog’s daily life.

By this time, the irritation would have grown worse to intense pain, which can impair your dog’s ability to reason and to think correctly. If you have checked the insides of his ears and have located the foreign object, you can try to carefully remove it yourself if you think you can carry out the action without further damaging his ear.

If you can’t really see any foreign objects lodged inside your dog’s ear, you can’t really dismiss this possibility since it might be wedged further inside than you might suspect. Your vet should be able to take care of this problem with his otoscope and his long forceps, so if you can’t find it but suspect something of this sort, be sure to ask for help!

2. Bacterial Infection / Yeast Formation

Bacterial infection can take place through untreated wounds. As I have mentioned before, dogs love to play outside and often inside as well. During their playful activity, they might accidentally get their ears scratched and bump into sharp corners. Through this accident, wounds might form on the outside as well as on the inside of the ear flap.

Most of the time, we don’t really get the chance to see it until it forms into a scab. However, during this short time, the untreated wounds might be infected with bacteria, which can lead to a bacterial infection. Infected wounds will start to fester, which can lead to a yellowish discharge coupled with a foul odor.

For yeast infection, the origin can be quite similar, but your dog can get this quite easily if his ears are flappy and very close to the sides of his head. After your dog goes through strenuous exercise, he will naturally sweat to cool down his body, and if his ears are closed and don’t allow air circulation, the hair inside the ears will stay moist.

Similar to the athlete’s foot, the inside of your dog’s ear will be damp and devoid of sunlight, which provides an ideal environment for fungus (yeast) to form. If a yeast infection does form, the symptoms of a yeast infection will be a brown, grayish (greasy) discharge accompanied by a foul odor.

Bacterial infection can be easily treated with medicated products that contain antibiotics, and for fungal infection, you can also treat that ear infection through antifungal sprays. If you are looking for a solution that can solve both of these problems at once, the ear solution formulated by Zymox does just that!

3. Mite Infection & Skin Allergies

Another reason why your dog is scratching his ears plus shaking his head can be related to parasitical infection. Even though fleas and ticks play a huge role as external parasites, you still need to watch out for microscopic mites when your dog is going through an ear infection.

Especially prone in young puppies, ear mites and ticks can cause inflammation and swellings, which can lead to bacterial infection. Even though ticks and fleas can be seen with a naked eye, mites are usually found by using a microscope, so in other words, you can’t really see them.

If your dog is scratching his ears too frequently, you need to check if there are any red spots and inflamed skin patches. Sometimes, if the infestation has been going on for some time, bloody scabs might have formed due to the frequent scratching. For ear mites and ticks, please use a medicated product to protect your pet against pests.

Did you know that ear irritation is one of the key symptoms of skin allergies? When a pet is going through an allergic reaction, it is more prone to inflammation and itchiness, which can often occur near the ears. You might not have known this, but dogs with environmental allergies are more prone to ear infections.

Allergies cause itchiness in the ear, and when dogs give in and start to scratch their ear, it often becomes infected due to the inflammation. Higher temperature creates moistness in confined spaces (heat), which provides an ideal environment for fungus to grow and for bacteria to spring.

Identifying the allergen is the best way to solve this problem, but the process can be hard and very expensive at times. Without doing all this, you can naturally overcome this problem by implementing allergy supplements into your dog’s diet, and to do just that, Zesty Paws has created a formula full of natural and enhanced ingredients.

4. Aural Hematomas

You might be facing this term for the first time, but this medical term hematoma is a blood bruise that forms when blood vessels under the skin rupture. These will look more like a lump full of fluids, and if you touch them, your dog will probably shy away in pain since that lump is basically an open wound right underneath the skin.

So what is Aural Hematomas? When your dog scratches his ear too hard or too often and injures his ear by some way or method, the blood vessels inside your dog’s ear will be damaged, which causes the blood to seep through and create these blood bruises in your dog’s earflap.

Since aural hematomas are internal bleeding, you can’t solve it simply with just band-aids. In order to remove these lumps, your dog needs to undergo surgery and possibly further medical treatment. If your dog has a lump in his ear that is painful to the touch, please take your dog to the vet immediately for a physical examination.

5. Ear Canal & Middle Ear

Last but not least, we need to consider the other possible causes that might be behind your dog scratching his ears and shaking his head. Problems related to the ear canal and especially in the inner ear cannot be solved with medication and homemade products since they might require specialized operations and techniques.

If there is a trapped fluid inside his ear canal, it might be thoroughly hidden by a layer of bruises and scabs due to the frequent scratching and biting. If an infection to the ear is left untreated for prolonged periods of time, there is a high possibility that your dog will go deaf, which can be fatal if you have to alert your dog to unforeseen dangers.

If you can’t figure the cause behind your dog’s behavior, don’t just give him a bunch of medications hoping that everything will return to normal. Even though it might have been done with a helpful intention, your actions might actually worsen the situation, which can lead to permanent ear damage and hearing loss.

Conclusion: Best Scenario

Even though you have tried your best, your best might not be enough. In fact, your dog’s condition might get worse if you always try to solve these medical conditions on your own. If it is getting to a point where your dog’s behavior is spiraling out of control, you need to make that choice without hesitation.

Professional help is going to cost a lot of money if you didn’t prepare for this type of situation, and as you may as well know, the cost might be charged after all the necessary operations have taken place. Even though you might have gotten off the hook this time, you can’t really predict the future.

If you do want to prepare for your dog’s potential medical visits, you might want to know that there is an insurance plan for dogs as well. Similar to life insurance, you pay a certain amount every month, but the pet plan will cover the cost related to vet visits and even any surgeries that might happen down the road.

As always, the final decision is up to you, and I hope that you have a great time with your friend and also a great rest of your day. Feel free to visit our website anytime, and if you have found this information to be helpful to you, please share our post with your peers since that helps us a big bunch!