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Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  Small animal medicine and surgery - 16 years experience in BC, California and Ontario
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My labrador retriever has itchy, red inner ears. What can

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My labrador retriever has itchy, red inner ears. What can I do?

Hi there,

Welcome to Just Answer! I would like to help you and your dog with this question, but need a bit more information in order to better assist you.

When did this start?

Is there a yeasty or fruity smell from the ears?

Has she had ear infections in the past?


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I noticed the redness a couple of days ago. It was a bit wet today and seems to have a fruity smell, as well. She has not had ear infections in the past.
Oh, poor girl!

And does she like to go swimming? (sillly question with a Lab, probably... )
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Yes! She does swim often- in a creek as well as our pool.
LOL - that sounds like a Labrador! In 15 yrs of practice, I have only met one who did not like to swim!

Ok from what you are describing, it sounds like your dog has an ear infection.

Ear infections (otitis externa) are quite common.

Otitis externa is commonly caused by yeast, bacteria or a combination of both.

There are commonly yeast and bacteria living in small numbers in the ears. If water gets into the ears from swimming, then the ear canal becomes moist and warm - just the kind of place that bacteria and yeast like to grow! As the bacterial and yeast numbers increase, the ear gets infected and ITCHY!


Quite often, the ear drops that I prescribe have a combination of:

- anti-fungals to treat the yeast,

- anti-biotics to treat the bacteria and

- anti-inflammatories to decrease the pain and inflammation.

The names of a couple of ear medications I commonly prescribe are Surolan and Otomax. It is very likely, from what you are describing that your girl needs some ear drops in order to treat this infection.

Unfortunately, oral antibiotics are almost never effective to treat ear infections as it is the combination of yeast and bacteria that causes it. Also, we need to get the medication into the ear, which means by drops (not by mouth).

Oral antibiotics are rarely needed to treat ear infections, as the drug doesn't get to the site of the infection effectively. When you give an oral antibiotic, it ends up in the blood stream, and this is not helpful for treating ear infections which are on the skin surface within the ear. Occasionally I use oral antibiotics if there are signs of an INNER ear infection. This is rare.

In order to keep your girl comfortable tonight until you can get in to see your vet, if she were my patient, I might advise you that you could give her some Benadryl (diphenhydramine).


This antihistamine can reduce the itching in the ears. It quite often causes drowsiness.

The dose that one generally gives is 1mg/lb.

It comes as 25 mg tablets, and as she is 65lbs, then her dose would be 2.5 tablets.

This can be repeated every 8 hours for 24-36h.

Here is more about Benadryl:

You should see improvement (less itching) within 30 minutes.


Here are some links about Otitis Externa that you might find useful:

If you are going to have to go out to the pharmacy, you could also see if they have

Burrow's Solution (Buro-sol, ).

In Canada, you can get Burrow's Solution over the counter at a pharmacy. I believe it is widely available in the USA as well. It is a gentle astringent that is very useful in treating ear infections.

Many veterinarians carry it, compounded with 2% hydrocortisone (for that you would need a prescription). But you could certainly try it tonight to give some relief. Instill 3-5 drops into both ears and massage it around. Let her shake it out, or wipe with a tissue (NOT a Q-tip).


Good luck with your dog. I hope this helps to keep her comfortable! And do see your vet when they open in order to get some ear drops for her.

If this has been helpful, please hit the green "Accept" button and leave feedback.

If you need more information, just click on reply and I will still be here to provide it!

The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.


Dr.Fiona and other Dog Veterinary Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Thank you! That was very helpful.
you are very welcome!

I hope she feels better soon. I know that ear infections are no fun and can make even a gentle dog feel grumpy!

Best wishes,