The discomfort that comes when you have an earache hardly needs elaboration, but imagine for a minute that your ear — inflamed and filled with water or wax — can’t be cleaned or improved by your own hand. You can’t voice your pain or your need for help, either. All you can do is shake your head back and forth over and over until someone notices, diagnoses the problem and administers what is necessary to nurse you back to health. So is the life of your beloved dog when he or she comes down with an ear problem of some kind, and ear problems are extraordinarily common in dogs.
A dog’s external ear canal, where most problems occur, is longer and more vertical than a human’s, making it easier for something like water to make it into the ear canal and stay there. Additionally, a dog’s ear canal is lined with skin and contain glands and hair follicles (just like the skin on the outside of its body), making its ears prone to the same kind of irritants that affect its paws, legs, back and head, said Dr. Christine Cain, DVM and assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine Dermatology & Allergy Service.