Why Does My Dog Have Smelly Ears?!

basset hound with ears held in the air

Why Do My Dog's Ears Smell? Everything You Need To Know!

Any foul smell coming from your pup is normally a telltale sign something isn’t right! Of course, just like us humans, your pup can be the culprit of that bad release of gas that stinks out the entire room, but when the smell is coming from their mouths, paws, anal gland, or ears, that’s when you need to take action.

In fact, if you notice any smell coming from your pet’s ears, it's a huge indicator that there could be a serious health problem. Cheese, vinegar, metal, or honey (sweet) are some of the more common noticeable odors, and they all indicate different issues...

What causes smelly dog ears?

Smelly ears are commonly a result of inflammation and infection. If any part of the sensitive and fragile inner ear becomes inflamed, it can lead to horrible and foul smells! Take a look at what the main causes of ear inflammation are;

Dogs Ears Smell Bad? It Could Be Wax Buildup

Earwax plays an extremely important part when it comes to the health of your pup’s ears. Wax is naturally developed by the body to moisturize the skin around the ear canal, preventing discomfort and irritation from itchy, dry ears… Plus, the chemicals found in the soft substance can fight off aggressors and infection. 

Acting like a shield for the eardrum, this light-brown wax can sometimes overdevelop and build up if your pet’s self-cleaning ability becomes disrupted. This is when changes in color and volume may occur, becoming yellow or reddish-brown, weeping from the inner ear. If the balance is not corrected, this access wax can cause an infection, resulting in foul odors.

Dogs Ears Smell Bad? It Could Be A Bacterial Infection

Bacterial infections often involve more than one type of bacteria, normally causing a sweet-honey or rotten meat smell to radiate from the ear. Accompanied by swelling, redness, itchy, and sometimes pain, bacterial infections need medical attention as soon as possible - requiring antibiotic eardrops and treatment. If you begin to notice a horrid smell along with discharge, pus, or a bloody liquid, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Another common sign your pet is suffering from a bacterial infection is rubbing their ears across the floor or on the wall, also shaking their head or reluctance to having their ear touched due to pain and discomfort. 

Dogs Ears Smell Bad? It Could Be A Yeast Infection

Yeast, also known as candida, is a fungus present on most living things - including us humans and our furry friends. Now, although the word fungus makes you think of mold, it is in fact a normal and healthy party of the skin and gut. The key to healthy yeast is balance, but when the immune system falters due to stress or illness, yeast can grow out of control, causing all sorts of health issues;

  • Itchiness
  • Discomfort
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • Dry skin
Before you start to panic, yeast infections are not fatal, but they can lead to other health issues and complications that will need your immediate attention. 

Symptoms of a yeast infection;

  • Scratching and rubbing
  • Head shaking
  • Foul odor
  • Walking in circles or loss of balance
  • Crusty skin around the ear
  • Hearing Loss
  • Browny/yellow discharge 
  • Blood

If you believe your pooch to have a yeast infection within their ear, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible so that they’re able to diagnose the problem and help your furry friend get back to full - non-smelly ear - health.

cavalier king charles puppy with ears flapping

Dogs Ears Smell Bad? It Could BeAllergies

Another common cause for bad-smelling dog ears is an allergy - environmental or dietary. Almost half of the canine ear infections are caused by an allergic reaction due to thriving bacteria and yeast. For both of these potentially harmful aggressors to grown, they need the optimum environment...and an allergic reaction is perfect for providing this. 

When irritants such as pollen (environmental) or grain (dietary) react negatively with your pet’s body, their immune system will try to fight off the aggressor. This natural reaction can lead to excess moisture within the ear canal, where yeast and bacteria can thrive, resulting in an infection, along with sweet or rancid odor.

The most noticeable signs your pup is suffering from an allergic reaction within the ear include;

  • Warm, red skin
  • Discharge from the ear
  • Open scabs and sores
  • Head rubbing where the infected ear is
  • Scratching ear(s)
  • Swollen inner ear canal

If you believe your pup is suffering from an allergic reaction affecting the ear, please visit your veterinarian as soon as possible so that they’re able to diagnose the problem and help you learn the cause of the irritation.

Related Read

How To Help Your Dog With Their Allergies

Dogs Ears Smell Bad? It Could Be Due To The Shape Of Their Ear Or Their Breed

Your dog’s ear canal is similar to the letter ‘L’. No matter what breed, all canine ears will have this shape formation. However, due to this design, there are areas of the ear canal, deep within that is the perfect environment for fungus and bacteria to grow. 

If your pooch loves to take a swim in the lake when you’re out for walkies, or you might have sprayed water into their ear while giving them a wash, this excess water can easily get trapped in the dark, deep area of the ‘L’ - perfect for infection and bacteria to grow and cause foul odors to radiate from the ear.

Dogs with floppy ears;Beagles, Basset hounds, English cocker spaniels, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels are more prone to ear infections, as moisture can be trapped easily, with less airflow into the ear canal.

How To Treat & Prevent Smelly Dog Ears

Small dog in forest

As you can see from above, there are many different potential causes of smelly dog ears. From sweet to putrid, any pungent smell emitting from your pup’s ears is a cause for concern. Seeking medical advice is paramount to help you resolve the issue, as a neglected ear infection or illness could lead to hearing loss…

However, there are also things you can do at home to help your pet’s ear health - but we do recommend you talk to your vet before you start putting anything inside your fur baby’s ear!


A great way to help your pet fight the cause of smelly ears is simply adding probiotics to their diet. Packed with beneficial nutrients and bacteria that is naturally found in the gut, adding a probiotic to your pet’s meal can seriously improve their overall health – and give their natural defenses the tools to combat infection, whilst keeping healthy bacteria balanced. 

When your dog’s gut is in perfect working condition, their entire body will function better- which is why probiotics are so important and an integral supplement to add to your pet’s life. Our delicious pork flavored Probiotic chews effectively boost immunity strength and gut health with a selected blend of vitamins, minerals, and 8 strains of beneficial bacteria.


Diet plays an essential role in maintaining your pup’s ear health - and keeping the bad smells at bay! 

Naturally, our canine companions are carnivores, so when their diet is packed with fillers, grains, processed starch, and carbohydrates, it can have a negative effect on your pet’s overall health. And, as mentioned above, allergies and food intolerances are one of the number one causes of smelly ear infections. 

So, to help avoid and prevent an ear infection… make sure you’re giving your pet a balanced diet, with as little fillers and grains as possible. Harmful microorganisms thrive on sugars and carbs in most common shop-bought pet foods, so avoid bad food to avoid bad smells!

Final Thoughts

If you notice any smell coming from your dog’s ears, it is normally a sign that something is wrong with the sensitive inner ear and will need your attention as soon as possible. By adding a probiotic to their daily routine and making sure you’re giving them a balanced, well-rounded diet, you should be able to help your furry friend combat any potential infections or irritants that can upset their ears! 

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