Most dogs love to go in the water – the pool, lake, ocean, river, pond, etc. With the warmer weather temperatures here, people are visiting places with water with their dogs. After a long day of swimming, both humans and dogs can experience swimmer's ear

What is swimmer’s ear?

Dogs can accumulate water within their ears after a swim. Their ear configuration is different from humans due to their L-shaped structure, which can make it difficult for water to escape. The moist environment created is a favorable environment for yeast and bacteria, which can then lead to the development of an ear infection, also known as otitis externa.

Does the type of ear shape make a difference?

Dogs with floppy ears, such as cocker spaniels and golden retrievers, may be more susceptible to ear infections than dogs with upright ears. When the floppy ears fold over the ear canal, it can retain moisture inside. Bacteria and yeast thrive in this environment and can cause ear infections.

Does the type of water make a difference?

Regardless of whether or not a dog goes swimming in the ocean, lake, river, or chlorinated swimming pool, water is still water and can create a favorable environment for microbes to grow in. All types of water can generate moisture which can make a dog more susceptible to an ear infection.


A common clinical sign of an ear infection is itchy ears. When bacteria and yeast overgrow within ears, there may be yellow or black debris visible from the ear canal.

The infection can often cause:

  • Inflammation or redness of the ear
  • Pain at touch
  • Itchiness
  • Burning
  • Head shaking
  • Pawing at head/ears
  • Rubbing ears on objects
  • Twitching of the ears
  • Scaly skin within the ear
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Whining
  • Restless


Here are some ways to prevent this type of ear infection for your dog:

  • After a dog swims, allow them to shake out any excess water and dry their ears carefully.
  • Make sure you regularly clean a dog’s ears when it becomes dirty. Depending on the dog breed, the frequency of ear cleaning may vary, so ask your veterinarian. There are specially made ear cleansers for pets that are recommended.
  • Owners can clean their dog's ears at home by using an ear cleanser that is then wiped off with gauze or cotton. Care should be taken to NOT USE Q-tips due to the possibility of rupturing the tympanic membrane or eardrum.

Veterinary care should be sought for proper treatment if your dog’s ear becomes infected. If in doubt about whether your dog has swimmer’s ear, contact your local veterinarian? Animal Care Center in Smyrna, GA, is owned and operated by Otto H. Williams, DVM. The veterinary practice specializes in complete healthcare for cats and dogs and offers services including preventative, surgical and nonsurgical care, internal medicine, grooming and boarding to Cobb County and surrounding cities such as Vinings, Marietta, Mableton and Sandy Springs. Call today at 770.438.2694 or request an appointment.