Why Do My Dog’s Ears Smell?


Noticing an odor in dogs ears is never a pleasant experience. In fact, noticing any kind of odor on your dogs isn’t great. But if your dog has smelly ears then this often raises concern.

Dog ears stink for a number of reasons. A lot of the time it should not cause too much concern. But like any pet issues, if puppies’ ears stink, regardless of the reason, it is a problem that you would want a quick solution to.

Odor in dogs ears can be caused by a number of things, from something basic as the shape of your dog’s ears. In this article, I will explain some of the main reasons your dog’s ears may stink.

If you do still fear it may be an infection, I will explain a bit about this as well. Hopefully by the end of this article you will be able to identify and fix your poor pup’s problem!

dog ears

Table of Contents

Reasons For Stinky Dog Ears No Infection

As mentioned, there are a number of reasons your dog may have smelly ears. It does not necessarily mean your dog is ill or has a serious infection.

Before worrying too much, here are a few causes that you can check.

Dirty Ears

Most dogs have a covering over their ears called the ‘pinna’. This little flap creates the ideal environment for bacterial growth. Bacteria love a dark, wet environment and so a lot of the time it may be the case that there has just been some bacteria build up in your dog’s ears. 

If you detect a bad smell in your dog’s ear or ears, the first thing to do is to take a look inside. If you notice a lot of wax, then this is going to need to be cleaned. Unlike human ear wax, dog ear wax often has a lot more dirt on it. It may appear very dark, or even completely black. 

You can use some cotton wool and warm water to remove the wax, or you can purchase some specific wipes or solutions to help with the removal if it is stubborn. 

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Cleaning your dog’s ears should be something you do regularly, regardless of whether this is an odor or not. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria on the wax, which leads to the smell. It also helps prevent infection developing. 


Whilst infections could also cause inflammation, there are a number of other factors that may cause inflammation. Allergies, ear mites or a small cut could be just a few of the causes for inflammation. 

Inflammation can result in more of a wax build up. Like mentioned above, it can lead to the growth of bacteria which then causes a bad odor. However, if the wax build up is caused by inflammation, as opposed to simply needing a clean, unfortunately cleaning them will not be a solution. 

If you notice inflammation then you should head to your vet. It may be caused by something simple, but if it is being caused by something like mites, or an internal wound, it is best to seek professional advice on this. This will be the quickest, easiest, and most reliable way to identify and tackle the problem. 

black and white fluffy dog


Similar to a wound causing inflammation, a hidden injury may also result in a bad odor. If this is an open wound, this will be because dirt has probably gotten into it, or bacteria has begun to grow on it whilst it tries to heal. 

Similarly, ulcers may cause a bad smell as the dog’s ears will try to heal on their own. Checking your dog’s ears regularly can help to prevent the growth of bacteria if you catch the injury early enough.

Many injuries, much like human wounds, will simply just need to be treated so they can heal. However, some injuries may need medical attention, or if the injury is too small for you to spot then this is when you should take your furry canine for a trip to the vet!

Foreign Objects

Dogs are constantly playing with unfamiliar objects whether it’s something they have found in the house, in the garden, even on the street. We are not able to stop our dogs playing with things 24/7. This means that sometimes these objects may get swallowed by the dog, and in some instances may end up falling into the dog’s ears. 

Something as small and simple as a piece of grass or dirt could be lodged in the ear and cause this bad smell.

Hopefully the object is something you are able to identify and remove yourself. If you do get the object out, you should follow up by cleaning the ear.

Once the object has been removed and the ear has been cleaned, you should notice the smell disappear over a few days.

If the object is too small to be flushed out, you may need to take your dog to the vet. They can ensure the object is definitely gone and is not pushed further in.


If each of the above causes has been ruled out, it is likely your dog has an infected ear. In fact, in many cases, the infection has probably been caused by one of the above. 

Dogs who have long ears are more prone to infection. This is because their long ears often dip into their food and water and can pick up more when they are out on a walk. This leads to more of a build-up of moisture which then results in infection. 

If your dog does have an infected ear then this will definitely require the assistance of a vet. 

Cleaning your dog’s ears regularly and also trimming their ear fur can help avoid infection as it will prevent the build up of wax and less fur will reduce the build up of moisture.

long dog ears

How to Treat Smelly Dog Ears

If you notice a bad smell coming from your dog’s ears, the worst thing to do is avoid it. 

First of all, take the time to have a look in your dog’s ear. You can use a light to help you identify anything small that may be causing a blockage or wax build-up. If you do not notice anything, you can give your dogs ears a rinse with the correct formula for flushing them out.

If washing out their ears, and giving them a clean as mentioned under the part regarding dirty ears, then it may be time to take your dog to the vet. It may still only be the case that it is wax build-up or a small object. But if it is something more serious then it is best to get it checked sooner rather than later.  

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Why Does My Dog’s Ears Smell – Final Thoughts

If you do notice a bad smell in your dog’s ears, take the time to really try and identify what the cause could be. In many cases it will be something you can solve yourself with a bit of inspection and a bit of cleaning, which will save you a lot of vet bills.

However, if the problem does persist, do not hesitate to go and get it checked out by a vet. If it is a wound, a stuck object, or an infection, it will only get worse over time. This will make the treatment process even more difficult. 

Not only that, but your dog is probably in some form of pain or discomfort. This is something you should try and minimize. Your dog is not able to tell you when something is wrong. As owner, it’s your duty to stay on top of these things and monitor them.

You can help prevent all of the above by regularly cleaning, checking, and trimming the fur on your dog’s ears. However, if this is not enough, get it checked, get it sorted, and a happy pooch means a happy life!


Can I put peroxide in my dog’s ear?

No, you should not use peroxide on your dog. This can cause great irritation and if they have a reaction this then it may lead to a bigger problem in their ear.

Can I use vinegar to clean my dog’s ears?

You can combine one part vinegar with one part warm water to help clean away a build-up of wax in your dog’s ears. For a better result, you should use a solution formulated for this exact purpose.

What is the best ear cleaning solution for dogs?

Virbac EPIOTIC provides a reliable, vet-approved, cleaning solution that is perfect for cleaning dog’s and cat’s ears and protecting them from wax build-up and infection.

Can I use baby wipes to clean my dog’s ears?

Although maybe wipes will not cause too much harm, you should refrain from using these products on your dog. Instead you can use wipes that are specifically designed for cleaning your dog’s ears.