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Ask Dr.Fiona Your Own Question
Dr.Fiona, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 6273
Experience:  16 years experience as a companion animal veterinarian in British Columbia, California and Ontario
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My pit bull has been scratching his ear for the last two ...

Customer Question

My pit bull has been scratching his ear for the last two weeks and I thought it was ear ticks.   I squirted some ear tick medicine into his ear; however, he still scratches his ear. I took a Q-tip and cleaned his ear and some brown stuff was on the Q-tip, and when I squeeze his ear it sounds like there is moisture in there. What can it be and what can I do the help him? Thanks. Debra
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Hi Debra,

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

Do his ears smell bad?

Do the ears look red inside them?

Is he shaking his head or scratching at his ears?


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
His ear smells kinda of musty and gets red when he scratches it; otherwise, it doesn't appear to be red on the outside. He shakes his head sometimes, also.
Expert:  Dr.Fiona replied 8 years ago.

Oh, your poor boy!

It sounds as though your Pit Bull has an ear infection.

Ear infections (otitis externa) are quite common in dogs, unfortunately.

Let me explain a bit more about them...

Otitis externa is commonly caused by yeast, bacteria or a combination of both. Quite often, the ear medications 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.

In 14 years of practice, I have only ever seen one dog with ear mites! They are much more common in cats.

When I see a dog with an ear infection, I have a close look inside the ear canal to make sure the ear drum is intact. I might take a sample of the discharge and examine it under a microscope. If there were a lot of discharge, I would clean the ear out really well with a gentle ear cleaner, so that medication could then be used to treat the ear.

It is likely that you will need to take your dog to see a vet so that he can be treated for this. Prescription medications are effective very quickly at clearing up ear infections.

If you absolutely cannot make it to see a vet, you could try the following at home, though it is not as effective:

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 twice daily for 7 days in your dog. Instill 3-5 drops into both ears twice daily for a week.

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.

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

Good luck with your dog. If this has been helpful, please hit the green "Accept" button and provide feedback. I will still be here to provide more information if you need it!