Dog Ear Health: Why Do Dogs’ Ears Stink?

Dog ears come in all shapes and sizes, from big and floppy to small and pointy! But one thing they all have in common is that they can stink. But, why do dogs’ ears stink sometimes?

Turns out that there are some natural and behavioral reasons behind this.

Now, however you feel about canine olfactory emissions, one thing’s for sure: They’re part of life if you have a pup in your house!

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep a dog’s ears clean and free from odors.

Petpress brings to you a guide on why a dog’s ears stink sometimes and how to prevent it from happening.

What Causes Smelly Ears in Dogs?

Just like dog body odor, smelly ears in dogs can be the result of a variety of things. 

If your pup has an unpleasant odor coming from their ears, it is important to identify the cause and take appropriate steps to address the issue. 

1. Bacterial and fungal infections can occur when there is an overgrowth of microorganisms in the ear canal that create a foul-smelling discharge. 

2. Allergies may also cause inflammation that leads to a smelly smell. 

3. In dogs, ear mites often leave behind dark brown waxy debris with an associated odor. 

4. Wax buildup is also quite common and should be addressed promptly as dirt and debris can get caught in the wax and cause infection.

If your pup’s ears smell, it is important to take them to the vet for further evaluation.

The vet can determine what is causing the smell and recommend treatments such as antibiotics or anti-fungal medications. 

Why Do Dogs Ears Stink So Much?

We’ve all been there: you’re petting your beloved pup when suddenly, you’re hit with a wave of the unpleasant smell emanating from their ears.

It’s a common problem with several causes and solutions.

Here are seven reasons why your dog’s ears might smell bad:

1. Ear Infection:

Dogs are prone to ear infections caused by bacteria or fungus, which will cause an unpleasant odor in addition to redness, itching, and discharge.

In some cases, yeast infections or mites may also be present.

2. Lack of Cleaning:

Dogs should have their ears cleaned regularly — ideally once a month, but at least every other month.

Not cleaning your pup’s ears often enough can accumulate dirt and debris, resulting in an unpleasant smell.

3. Swimming:

If your pup loves taking a dip in the pond or pool, this could be the source of the bad odor coming from their ears.

When dogs swim, water can get trapped in their ear canal which creates an ideal environment for bacteria and fungi to grow and cause infections, leading to an unpleasant smell.

4. Long Ears:

Dog breeds with long ears — like Basset Hounds, Beagles, and Cocker Spaniels — have ears that are more likely to collect dirt, debris, and moisture.

This makes them more prone to ear problems, which often result in a bad smell.

5. Hair Growth:

Some breeds with hairy ears — such as Spaniels and Terriers — can develop an unpleasant odor due to hair growing inside of the ear canal or wax buildup trapping bacteria.

6. Allergies:

Dogs with allergies may be particularly prone to developing stinky ears as irritation caused by allergens can lead to inflammation and infection.

7. Diabetes:

A condition known as diabetic otitis is a common complication of diabetes in dogs which can cause an unpleasant smell in addition to other symptoms.

Preventing Ear Odors in Dogs

Ear odors in dogs can be more than just an unpleasant annoyance.

In extreme cases, a bad odor could indicate an infection and should be addressed by your veterinarian right away.

But there are some simple preventive steps you can take to help keep your pup’s ears smelling as sweet as they look!

1. Clean your dog’s ears on a regular basis.

By following a step-by-step guide to clean a dog’s ear, you can keep them stink-free!

This helps remove dirt and wax buildup that can lead to the growth of bacteria, which is what causes the smell in the first place.

Cleaning with a cotton ball or gauze soaked in warm water or an ear solution specifically formulated for dogs is recommended.

2. Pay attention to your pup’s diet.

Feeding a healthy and balanced diet is important for overall health, and this includes avoiding foods that can contribute to bad ear odors.

Foods such as garlic, onions, and other strong-smelling items should be avoided because these ingredients can actually seep out of the skin pores, leading to stronger smells in the ears.

3. Seek professional help from your veterinarian.

If left untreated, chronic ear infections can lead to hearing loss or painful issues like ulcerations inside the ear canal. Keep your pup healthy and happy with a visit to the vet!


Smelly ears in dogs can be caused by a variety of things, from infection to wax buildup trapping bacteria.

It’s important to identify the underlying cause and take appropriate steps to address it – whether that’s cleaning your pup’s ears on a regular basis or seeking professional help from your veterinarian.

With the right preventative care and timely treatment, you can keep your pup’s ears smelling fresh and free of odors!

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