Why do my Yorkie’s ears stink? (otitis in dogs)

In this article, we will answer the following question: Why do my Yorkie’s ears stink? We will talk about the two main reasons why a dog’s ears stink: they are not cleaned properly or your dog has otitis. Keep reading to find the main cause of why your Yorkie’s ears stink. 

Why do my Yorkie’s ears stink?

The main cause why your Yorkie’s ears stink is inadequate hygiene. Hygiene is essential for good dog health, and ears are no exception. Although in general not much importance is given to the hygiene of the ears, it is one of the most sensitive points of our dog, in addition to being very prone to catching infections.

We must check and clean our dog’s ears at least once a week. Depending on how your dog’s ears are, their size, the level of dirt or dust in the place where they walk, play or live, etc…. Some dogs may need to have their ears cleaned twice a week or more, while others may simply need a cleaning every 10 to 15 days.

The ears create wax naturally, it is a means of protection for the hearing of any mammal, including humans. It is completely normal for a dog to have dirty ears and needs to be cleaned, as his body will always recreate wax.

Depending on the environment where they play and live, in addition to other external factors, that wax can capture more or fewer dust particles, to prevent them from entering the ear. That is why there are times when the wax is lighter or darker (except for infections).

How to clean my Yorkie’s years? (step by step)

At general levels, weekly cleaning is usually sufficient. Not forgetting that we must dry their ears inside, just as if we cleaned them, every time we bathe them. Dogs with mutilated ears (something we should never allow) tend to get dirty more often.

  1. The first thing we must do is clean our hands and find a place with light to visually check the inside of our dog’s ears. This initial review will indicate the amount of dirt that we are going to find and where it is located in the ear.

It will also give us an idea of ​​the size of the inside of our dog’s ear. Something very important since we are going to manipulate it with our fingers and it is a very sensitive area.

  1. Once the eye inspection is done, we will wrap gauze around our finger and gently introduce it into the dog’s ear. We must be very delicate since any sudden movement can hurt them.

Logically, if our dog has a small ear we will use the smallest finger of our hand for this task. Whereas if it has large ears (or is a large breed) perhaps we can use another finger without forcing.

  1. Once we have gently inserted the finger with the gauze inside your ear, we will make small and gentle circular movements, so that as much wax as possible remains on the gauze.

We will remove the finger with the gauze and examine it, if the gauze has come out dirty, with traces of wax or dirt, we will take a clean gauze and repeat the cleaning in that ear, as many times as necessary until the gauze comes out clean.

  1. When we remove the finger with the gauze and it is clean, we will take a new gauze (never use the same one) and we will perform the same task on the other ear. We should never use the same gauze in both ears because if one of them is beginning to have a small infection, we will probably infect the other. We must always use a clean gauze for each ear.
  1. Gauze pads are very inexpensive and can be purchased in boxes of various sizes at any pharmacy. If gauze is not available, clean, non-harsh toilet paper can be used.
  1. We should never ever use earbuds like the ones we humans use. Since if the dog moves or we do not calculate well with our hand, we could cause irreparable damage such as deafness. Nor should we use cotton or anything that leaves fibers.

If your Yorkie’s ears stink due to external otitis

Otitis externa is another cause that explains why a dog’s ears smell bad. It is an inflammation of the epithelium that lines the external auditory canal. As we have seen, there are predisposing factors, such as race or congenital anomalies, which, although they are not the cause of the process itself, increase the risk that the patient will end up suffering from otitis. 

When this inflammation occurs, the ear canal becomes strenuous (becomes narrower), the skin thickens, and the ear is much more vulnerable to secondary infections by opportunistic pathogens.

What is otitis in dogs?

Otitis is an inflammation and/or infection of the ear that can affect its different areas and one or both ears. The ear is divided into an outer, middle, and inner zone. In the following sections, we will see what are the characteristics of otitis as it affects each of these parts.

What breeds of dog suffer from otitis?

Any dog ​​is susceptible to otitis at any time in its life, but it is true that some dogs are going to have a greater predisposition, especially due to their anatomy. The following situations favor otitis:

  • Long, drooping ears.
  • Narrow ear canals.
  • Very thick fur.
  • Skin allergies, especially canine atopy and food allergy dermatitis.
  • Seborrhea.
  • Strange bodies.
  • Tumors in the ear canal.
  • Mites.

In addition, cleaning the ears with cotton buds, the entry of water, inadequate or excessive cleaning, or pulling the hairs from the canal are other factors to take into account.

Symptoms of Otitis in a dog

This infection has very noticeable symptoms, so detecting it is quite simple. Regardless of whether the Otitis is bacterial or not, our dog will show the following symptoms:

  • Excessive head shaking, flapping your ears
  • Frequent scratching in the area of ​​the ears with the paws
  • Possible hearing loss or deafness
  • Redness of the inside/outside of the ear
  • Excessive earwax, pus, bad odor, or discharge from inside the ear
  • Possible bad mood of our dog due to pain
  • Reddened ear from otitis.

Types of otitis in dogs

Depending on the place where the infection originates in our dog’s ear, the otitis will be external, medium, or internal. Let’s see what its characteristics are.

External otitis: It is the one that affects the outermost part of the ear. It will be the most common in dogs. Symptoms include shaking and tilting of the head, scratching of the diseased ear, pain, foul-smelling discharge, and redness and swelling of the pinna. It can be caused by different causes such as bacteria, mites, fungi, or yeast.

The vet will examine the ear with an otoscope to arrive at the diagnosis. Infections in the outer ear can progress to the middle ear, hence the importance of going to the veterinarian at the first symptom to start treatment as soon as possible and thus avoid complications.

Otitis media: This otitis will affect the middle ear and is usually the result of an infection in the outer ear that has progressed. The symptoms are similar in both cases, although with much more pain. If a facial nerve that crosses the eardrum is damaged, we will see the lip and ear fall on that side.

Horner syndrome can also occur, which is a disorder that affects the eye, reducing the size of the pupil, causing the eyelid to drop, the nictitating membrane to protrude, and the eye to retract into its orbit.

Internal otitis or labyrinthitis: In the case of this otitis, infection, and inflammation occurs in the inner ear. They are also usually a consequence of external otitis. The remarkable characteristic is that they also affect the balance system.

Thus, dogs adopt an abnormal posture, tilt their heads, become dizzy, present incoordination, walk in circles, vomit, and have nystagmus, which are rapid and involuntary movements of the eyes.

What is the treatment for otitis in dogs?

The first step should always be to clean the ear well because it is what ensures that the medication we apply can penetrate the canal and be effective. This initial cleaning is usually done by the vet. Then at home, we must administer the prescribed treatment depending on the cause. Sometimes drugs for pain are also prescribed.

In severe cases, changes occur in the morphology of the canal itself, which complicates healing and may require surgery. On the other hand, it must be taken into account that internal otitis is an emergency.

To treat otitis, it is essential that we ensure that the prescribed drug reaches the entire canal effectively. We must pour the product by bending the ear out over the top of the head and gently massage the base of the ear to spread it well. We will hear a splash.

Incidentally, we hold the dog’s head to prevent it from shaking before the drug has entered the canal. Afterward, we will dry the excess that remains in the ear.

How is otitis spread in dogs?

Canine otitis is not contagious, it is an infection caused by the weakening of our dog’s defenses. It can also be caused by the accumulation of bacteria or mites, or by poor hygiene. It is not a disease that is spread through the bite of a mosquito or through contact with other dogs.

It is not always possible to avoid otitis, but we can follow a series of recommendations to maintain a healthy ear. The first measure is to go to the vet at any sign of an ear problem to prevent complications.


Finally, we should not obsess over cleaning the dog’s ears, much less applying products to it routinely. A slight waxy and brownish discharge from the ears is normal and essential for ear health.

Clean only when there is a significant build-up of dirt. Of course, for this task, we should never use swabs or similar utensils because they push the dirt inside. We will limit ourselves to cleaning the visible area.

Make sure you take your Yorkie to his monthly and annual checks to the vet, especially if you notice some changes in its appearance or behavior. 

If you have any comments or questions on the content, please let us know. 

FAQ on Why does my Yorkie’s ears stink?

How do I stop my dog’s ears from smelling?

To stop your dog’s ears from smelling you have to clean and keep them dry. At general levels, weekly cleaning is usually sufficient. Not forgetting that we must dry their ears inside, just as if we cleaned them, every time we bathe them. 

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

Never use alcohol to clean your dog’s ears. Neither hydrogen peroxide, nor straight water. It is better to use a cleaner purchased at a pet store or a veterinary clinic.

How often should a Yorkie be bathed?

A Yorkie should be bathed once every two to four weeks, depending on its size, age, and the dog’s character. A puppy may need more frequent washing. 




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