All Things Dog

Floppy Ears and Infections

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Your Toy Poodle's adorable floppy ears are prone to a not-so-adorable problem—ear infections. And that can cause your furry friend itchiness and pain.

As ears hang down, they restrict airflow, which can cause the ear canal to retain moisture. The Toy Poodle also has more hair inside his ears than other breeds, again trapping moisture. Those warm, dark, moist ears are the perfect breeding ground for ear mites, as well as bacteria and yeast.

Of course, your Toy can develop ear infections for other reasons, too. Sometimes certain allergies will bring on chronic ear infections, as will a thyroid problem or a foreign body in the ear.

Symptoms to look for:

  • Odor coming from the ears
  • Scratching or rubbing of ears and head
  • Discharge from the ears
  • Redness or swelling of the ear flap or canal
  • Shaking of the head or tilting it to one side
  • Pain around the ears
  • Changes in behavior, such as depression or irritability


  • If your dog is showing severe discomfort, the ears have a bad smell, or the ear canals look very red, contact your veterinarian right away. Treatment will depend on the cause of the problem, but most often will include either an antibiotic or antifungal medication.
  • How to prevent ear problems

    Check your dog's ears weekly—the key to healthy ears is to keep them clean. Since a dog's ear is more L-shaped than a human ear, debris often collects at the corner of the L. To clean the ear, fill your dog's ear canal with a good ear cleaner (available at your pet store). Massage the base of the ear for 20 to 30 seconds to soften and release the debris. Then wipe out the loose debris and excess fluid with a cotton ball. Repeat until all wax and debris are removed.

    Cotton applicator swabs can be used to clean the inside of the earflap and the part of the ear canal you can see. They should not be used farther down in the ear canal, since that tends to pack debris in the ear canal, rather than removing it. If you're not comfortable doing the cleaning yourself, ask your vet for a demonstration first.

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