Dog Ears 101: Dog Scratching Ear Itching – Head Shaking Explained!

By Clearvoice / September 17, 2018
dog scratching ear and scratching head

The dog scratching ear issue… are dog itchy ears a nervous twitch or is there some deeper lying issue? What causes itchy ears and dogs to scratch their ears?

Itchy ears can be caused by ear mites, allergies, foreign objects lodged in the ear canals, bacterial or yeast infections. Most of these issues can be treated quickly and efficiently if they are noticed in good time

However, if the source of the itchy ears is ignored for too long, your dog can suffer severe pain and discomfort and even lose its hearing.

Preventing Itching Ears is Better than a Cure! Best Boosting Supplements!

Prevention is better than cure – absolutely!! We all love our pups and don’t want them to be bothered by a beastly ear bug. By feeding your dog a healthy, well-balanced diet and doing regular ear checks, you could most likely avoid ever having an itchy ear situation in the first place

How Honest Paws Coconut Oil, CBD Oil, and CBD Treats Can Prevent That Itchy Ear!

Treating Fido to delicious and healthy Honest Paws treats can provide the nutrients required to keep your dog fighting fit and allergy free

An integral part of the Honest Paws range of dog treats is their 100 % pure, full spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) oil extracted from hemp plantsCBD oil has all sorts of wonderful properties, from easing nerves and anxiousness to boosting immune systems and relieving pain.

  • CBD-infused coconut oil combines rich, human-grade organic coconut oil with 100 % pure CBD oil. This nutritional supplement can be mixed into your dog’s food or applied to skin and paws with itches or sores. Honest Paws CBD-infused coconut oil can help your dog with skin allergies, respiratory difficulties, and digestive issues. It is also great for boosting the immune system and improving brain function.
  • Honest Paws CBD Oil for Dogs can help your furry friend to overcome skin and allergy issues that might lead to itchy ears.
  • Honest Paws CBD oil-enriched dog treats come in three different flavors:
  1. The crunchy coconut Restore Dog Treats are great for soothing irritated, dry and itchy skin.
  2. For dog’s that scratch their ears because of nervousness and anxiety. The yummy peanut butter Honest Paws Calming CBD Dog Treats will soothe and calm all those frets away.
  3. Honest Paws Relief CBD Dog Treats are flavored with turmeric and peanut butter. These treats are great for easing pain and inflammation all over your dog’s body, painfully infected ears included!

dog shaking head with ears flapping in wind

Goodness from the Inside Out: Vets Preferred Turmeric and Salmon Oil Supplements!

Adding a salmon oil supplement to your dog’s diet every day is a great idea! 

Salmon oil has so many fantastic benefits, including improving cognition, protecting the heart, and making sure that your pooch has a healthy skin and a soft, shiny, and smooth coatVets Preferred Salmon Oil is made from wild Alaskan salmon. It is all natural and rich in the vital omega-3 fatty acids.

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Derived from natural Salmon, This product contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. This is rich in EPA, DPA and DHA which helps boost immune system, gives smooth and shiny skin and coat, and boost heart health. Below are great nutritional effects of Vets Preferred Salmon Oil for dogs:

How will this help your pet?

Boosts the immune system
Soothes temporary skin irritations
Softer, Shinier, and Smoother Coat
Helps Dry and Flakey Skin
Helps Shedding
Helps Allergies
Helps Joint Problems and Arthritis
Helps Pain and Inflammation

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6 Potential Reasons for a Dog Scratching Ear or Ears!

There are about as many reasons for a dog’s ear scratching as there are dog breeds! The source of your dog’s itchy ear/s can be anything from tiny little ear mites to grass seeds irritating the ear canal to a full-blown bacterial or yeast infection.

1. Ear Mites: The Cause of Many Itchy Ears

These microscopic spider-like parasites are very common. Your pooch can pick up these tiny bugs from other dogs and cats. The mites start out on the body before working their way onto the pinna (ear flap), into the outer and then into the middle ear

Once inside the ear canal, these little terrorists can wreak havoc and cause your poor pooch great pain and discomfort.

2. Allergies: Causing Ear Itching Since Forever

Like humans, dogs get allergies too. Dogs can be allergic to certain foods, fleas, or environmental factors such as grass or pollen. An allergic reaction can turn into a vicious cycle: Your dog’s ears become inflamed because of an allergen that has been ingested, absorbed or inhaled.

In response, the ears produce more wax and other secretions. This creates a warm and moisture-rich environment. Ideal for yeast and/or bacteria. These organisms and their waste cause an even greater inflammation, and can even trigger another allergic response.

dog scratching his itchy ears

3. Dog Ear Infection: That Itchy Ear Canal

An infection in your dog’s ear (otitis externa) can be caused by a foreign object becoming lodged there. For example, a grass seed or a piece of cotton swab left behind from a previous ear-cleaning. Your dog will shake its head and scratch at its ears to try and dislodge this irritant. Excessive scratching and shaking can cause damage to the ear. If a wound site is created, it can become a welcome home to bacterial or yeast infection, further exacerbating the problem.

4. Skin Infection: From Red Ears to Bloody Ears!

Skin infections in dogs are caused by parasites (e.g. sarcoptic mange mites, demodectic mange mites, fleas), bacterial infections, yeast infections or skin disease (e.g. lupus). If these infections spread to the ears, they can cause itching and discomfort.

Your dog’s immune response will lead to swelling and redness in the ear. This pain and irritation might cause your dog to scratch relentlessly, which will, in turn, lead to bleeding.

5. Yeast Infection: Dog Ear Wax with a Whiff of Ew

Yeast infections are possibly the itchiest of all these ear maladies. They are most often secondary to an allergic reaction but given the right circumstances can occur on their own too

Over and above the annoying itchiness, yeast infections can also cause hair loss and oily, malodorous skin.

6. Overall Ear Problems

Your furry friend’s itching ears can be caused by one or more of several different factors. It is important to inspect your dog from top to toe to identify any other potential issues that might give you a clue as to what is bugging your buddy.

If the ear trouble is caused by parasites, you might be able to see signs of these elsewhere on your dog’s body. The itchy ears could just be because of too much earwax or a foreign body stuck in the canal. These are both remedied.

Have a look and a sniff for any discharge or odors inside the ear. Hair loss and hot spots will also give clues as to what the source of the trouble might be. 

From Dog Shaking Head to Head Scratching: Signs Your Dog May Have Ear Problems

Second to its eyesight, your hound’s sense of hearing is a very important sense. Investigating why your dog is shaking its head or scratching its ears, and treating the issue promptly is vital to your dog’s future well-being

If left unchecked, the ear problem could escalate and result in a ruptured tympanic membrane (eardrum) and deafness. The persistent head shaking, and ear scratching could also cause ear hematomas.

vet looking at dog's itchy ear

Dog Keeps Shaking Head and Ears? It May Be Time to See a Vet!

Dogs usually shake their heads and their ears after a swim or a bath. They might even shake their heads because of the occasional itch. However, if your dog continually shakes its head and scratches its ears, it is definitely time to take a visit to the vet!

Your dog’s ear canal is L shaped, making it difficult to see what the problem might be. Also, there are so many potential causes for your pup’s ear malady. It is best to let your veterinarian investigate what the issue is. They might need to take some samples and do tests on the discharge so as to medicate accurately and effectively.

3 Ways to Prevent Itchy Ears in Dogs!

As always, a healthy, well-balanced diet is the cornerstone of your dog’s health. Good grooming habits and keeping an eye out on your dog’s well-being all make for good preventative practice.

dog lying in bed with dog ear wax red ears and itching ears


Several allergies are diet-related. Ensure that your dog eats a healthy, veterinarian-approved diet to minimize the negative effects of food allergiesIf you still see allergic reactions, try to find out what it is exactly that triggers your dogs’ allergic response.

Adding supplements such as salmon oil, coconut oil or CBD oil to your dog’s diet can help to keep your canine bestie healthy and infection free, both inside and out.


Some dog breeds, due to the size and shape of their ears, are more prone to getting ear infections than others, e.g Basset hounds, Cocker spaniels. To prevent dog ear infections, it is very important to keep your dogs’ ears clean.

How you clean your pup’s ears depends on how dirty they are. If it is the ear flap that is dirty, you can wipe it clean with a cotton ball soaked in warm water. Never use a cotton swab as this can push obstructions further into the ear causing more damage. If the inner ear has some muck in it, you can clean this out by flushing the ear with an ear cleaning solution.

You can purchase a pet-specific ear cleaner or you can make one yourself. A home ear cleaning solution is made up of water (boiled and cooled) and apple cider vinegar in equal parts.

Some dogs might need the removal of hairs that grow in the external ear canal. Only do this on advice from your veterinarian. If your dog has a thick coat that surrounds the ear canal, you might need to trim back some of this hair. Especially if your doggo spends a lot of time playing in the water!

Routine Ear Checks

Check your canine’s ears weekly, especially if it has floppy ears. What you want to see is a shiny surface with a delicate pink undertone. Have a good look inside the ear canal to make sure that there is nothing blocking it. 

ear mites causing dog scratching and inner ear itch

If you see symptoms such as redness or discharge, it is best to make an appointment with your veterinarian to investigate what the cause could be.

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