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You’re not alone if you have ever noticed that your dog’s ears are hot to the touch. Many dog owners wonder why their pup’s ears are so warm and what they can do about it. We will discuss some of the causes of dogs’ ears being hot and ways to alleviate the discomfort and keep your furry friend healthy, happy, and free of ear problems!
This article was written by Sara Ochoa, DVM. Sarah is an experienced practice veterinarian in Whitehouse, Texas.
1. They May Have a Fever
You may wonder why your dog’s ears are hot. Dogs are prone to temperature fluctuations, and when their ears become warm or hot, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue such as a fever. You should seek veterinary attention if your dog’s ear temperature is significantly higher than its average body temperature (usually around 101 degrees Fahrenheit). This can be especially important if your pet is not acting like their usual self, seems lethargic, or displays other signs of illness.
A vet will first take your dog’s temperature and assess for other signs of illness, such as dehydration, vomiting, or diarrhea. If a fever is present, the vet will likely prescribe antibiotics to fight infection if necessary. In some cases, additional testing may be required to determine the underlying cause.
2. They May Be Dehydrated
Dehydration occurs when the body does not have enough water or fluids to stay hydrated. Dogs with hot ears may suffer from dehydration and should see a veterinarian immediately. Dehydration can occur for many reasons, including excessive panting in warm weather, vomiting, diarrhea, or illness.
Signs of dehydration include a dry mouth and tongue, sunken eyes, and weak or listless behavior. If you wonder why your dog’s ears are hot to the touch, check for other signs of dehydration and contact your veterinarian immediately.
3. They May Be Sunburned
Playing in the hot sun for too long can lead to sunburns on your pup’s ears, known as solar dermatitis. The most obvious sign of this is reddening and inflammation of the skin on your dog’s ears. Make sure to keep their outdoor playtime limited in direct sunlight, and apply sunscreen if your pet is in the sun for longer than 15 minutes.
Some tips to avoid sunburn:
- Limit outdoor activities in hot weather. You may give them Native Pet’s certified organic yak chews to keep your pet busy indoors. These are best for dogs with anxiety disorders and hyperactivity.
- Provide your pet with plenty of shade when outdoors.
- Choose pet-friendly sunscreen specifically for dogs or use baby sunscreen.
- Consider earmuffs or other protective wear, such as a hat, if necessary.
- Check the temperature before long walks to avoid overexposure.
If you’ve noticed your dog’s ears appearing overly red and swollen, stop the outdoor activities immediately, and seek veterinary advice for further treatment.
While sunburns can be painful for your pet, they are usually self-limiting and resolve quickly with proper treatment. Additionally, keeping up with regular trips to the vet will ensure any potential issues are caught early and treated quickly.
4. They May Have an Ear Infection
Ear infections are common conditions among dogs and can cause their ears to become extremely hot. Other symptoms of ear infections include redness, swelling, odorous discharge, and excessive scratching or shaking of the head. Some floppy ear breeds, like a cocker spaniel or basset hound, may be prone to chronic ear infections.
If you suspect a pup has an ear infection, it is best to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may include cleaning and flushing of the ear canal, topical medication application, or oral antibiotics depending on the severity of the infection.
5. They May Have an Ear Mite Infestation
Ear mites are prevalent parasites that live in the ear canal of dogs. If your dog’s ears are hot with a funny smell or discharge, it’s likely due to an ear mite infestation. In this case, you should consult with your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. Your pet may need anti-parasite medications, such as Ivermectin, to eliminate ear mites. You may also need to do regular ear cleaning and medicate your pet with ear drops.
6. Their Ears May Be Filled with Wax or Other Debris
Ear wax helps to protect a dog’s ears from infection, but too much wax or debris can cause the ears to become hot. If you suspect your dog’s ears are filled with wax or debris, then it is essential to clean them immediately. You can do this using a cotton swab dipped in warm water or an ear cleaner solution for dogs. It is best not to insert anything into the ear canal as this can lead to damage or infection.
7. Their Ear Canals May Be Inflamed or Blocked Off by Growths Such as Tumors or Polyps
Inflammation occurs when the tissue in the ear becomes red, swollen, and painful. This can happen due to an infection or an allergy. Symptoms of inflammation include reddened skin around the ears, a smelly discharge emanating from the ear canal, and pain when you pet your dog around its ears. If you suspect your dog’s ears are inflamed, immediately take it to the vet. Treatment may involve antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, or steroid therapy.
In some cases, tumors and polyps can grow in your dog’s ear canal. These growths obstruct the ear canal and can accumulate wax and debris, damaging your dog’s ears. If your dog is experiencing persistent pain or discomfort, you should take it to the vet for an examination.
Some ways to treat blockage caused by tumors or polyps may involve surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. However, your vet will be able to provide the best advice on how to treat this ear problem.
8. They Might Have Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is a medical condition when your dog’s body temperature rises to 105°F (or higher) and cannot return to normal. If your pup is panting heavily and showing signs of restlessness or confusion, immediately move them to a cooler location, offer them water, and call the vet for assistance. Heat stroke can be fatal if left untreated, and your dog may need emergency care.
9. Poisoning or Other Illnesses
If your dog has been exposed to a toxic substance or has another medical condition, its ears may be hot due to the fever associated with these issues. Contact your vet for assistance if you’re concerned that this is the cause of your pup’s hot ears.
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Dogs are prone to have hot ears due to their breed’s fur and body temperature. In most cases, there is no need for concern if your dog’s ears feel warm or even hot. However, if your dog’s ears seem especially hot, you should always consult a veterinarian to ensure that there are no underlying health conditions or infections and make sure your dog doesn’t need emergency care.
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Sara is an experienced veterinarian with a history of working in Veterinary Medicine, Client Education, Dogs, Pet Care, and Surgery. She is a strong healthcare services professional with a graduate degree from St. George's University. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.