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Vet Tech Amy
Vet Tech Amy, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 813
Experience:  Veterinary Technician 5 years, pet owner, 10 years in the animal field
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What is the black hard stuff in one of my dogs ear

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How hard is the substance?

Is it sticky? flaky? dry? wet? any odor?

Is your dog shaking his head or scratching at his ears?

When did you first notice it?

Any other symptoms?
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Reply to Vet Tech Amy's Post: I did treat her for mites (the first time) about a month ago with over the counter medication from the pet store. She hasn't shown any other indication it could be mites. The black stuff isn't so hard that it can't be broken with my fingers. Its almost like wax, but not as waxy (if that makes any sense). Its not wet, and there is no odor.
Also, she really hasn't shown any signs shes not feeling well. I just randomly decided to check her ear to follow up on the mite situation.
Thanks for the additional information,

Typically black discharge in the ear can be from mites or ear infections (usually yeast infections.) Mites are white but their excretement leaves a salt and pepper crumbly discharge. It tends to be more flaky and can crumble in your fingers. It is often dry. Yeast infections have a black waxy discharge, when thick, it can become harder than a soft, sticky wax. If there is more discharge than infection, the odor may not be as bad as most cases. Sometimes dogs can have debris accumulation that can lead to infection later on.

In any case, you can try to flush the ear out at home to prevent a trip to the vet. At this point, I would flush the ears out twice daily. You can make a home made flush using 1 part white vinegar and 1 part water. The pH of the vinegar keeps the ear pH regulated and also serves as a drying agent. It is also much less abrasive than many of the over the counter cleaners that dogs may be allergic to.

To flush the ear you can use a syringe or bulb and gently let the solution run into the ear. then massage the ear at the base (and almost behind the ear), it should make a sloshing sound as you massage it. Then you can allow your dog to shake his head (do so in bathroom or outdoors due to mess.) Then taking soft gauze or cotton balls (NOT Q-tips) gently wipe the inside of the ear. Clean daily for 1 week, then as needed for cleaning and maintenance.

Monitor the ear for continued discharge, odor, heat or swelling. If the ear gets worse or if it does not improve within a few days, I would have him evaluated as ear issues, when they worsen, can lead to hearing loss.

If the ear does improve, you can go to once a day flushing after the first week, then as needed thereafter.

Hope this helps. Please let me know if you need additional information.

Best wishes,
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
One last question, I kinda panicked and put a few drops of the mite meds in her ear. Can I still go ahead with the flush. Also, I assume luke warm water is the best temp.
No problem! Thats what I am here for.

Yes, you can still flush the ear. The mite medication works best if it is left alone to sit but since it does not sound like dry flaky debris, I think the flushing will prove to be more advantageous. Room temperature solution works fine- I would be very careful in trying to warm the solution due to the sensitivity of the ear canal.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I'm sorry, I just had another thought. I have another dog, is this contagious?
Sorry for the delay,

Ear mites are contagious and usually are spread while playing or sleeping together. With mites, it is more common to see both ears affected. With an infection, unless the "healthy" dog had the debris placed in his ear (same thing used to clean both of their ears, etc) then it would not be contagious.
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