Common Ear Problems in Shih Poo Dogs

As a Shih Poo owner, you might have noticed your furry companion shaking their head or scratching their ears more than usual. While occasional scratching is normal, persistent and aggressive ear scratching could be a sign of an underlying ear problem. Shih Poos, like all dogs, can be prone to ear problems due to the floppy design of their ears and the build-up of moisture inside. It is important to be able to identify the signs of ear problems and know how to treat them to ensure the health and happiness of your four-legged friend. In this article, we will discuss the five most common ear problems in Shih Poo dogs and provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to treat and prevent them.

Signs of Ear Problems

Signs Of Ear Problems
The ears of your beloved shih poo are an essential part of their overall health, and it’s crucial to keep them clean and well-maintained. However, even with regular cleaning, ear problems can still occur. As a responsible dog owner, it’s important to be able to recognize the signs of such conditions. Scratching and shaking of the head, tilting to one side, discharge, and noticeable odor and redness are all indicators of ear issues. Being able to identify these symptoms can help you address the problem promptly and prevent it from worsening. If you’re unsure about how to clean your pet’s ears properly, check out our guide on how to clean shih poo ears for step-by-step instructions.

Ear Scratching and Shaking

When it comes to Shih Poo dogs, ear scratching and shaking may seem like normal behavior, but it can also be a sign of ear problems. When a Shih Poo scratches or shakes their head frequently, they may be trying to relieve themselves of discomfort in their ears. Some possible reasons for this behavior could be due to irritation from allergies, ear mites, or even foreign objects stuck in the ear canal.

It is crucial for Shih Poo owners to be aware of the signs that their dog is uncomfortable and take the necessary precautions to prevent further ear problems.

Here are some common signs of ear problems in Shih Poo dogs:

SignsPossible Causes
Scratching at earsAllergies
Ear Mites
Foreign Objects
Otitis Externa
Head shakingEar Mites
Otitis Externa
Foreign Objects
Whimpering/CryingEar Hematoma
Foreign Objects
Foul OdorOtitis Externa
Ear Infections
Foreign Objects

Some of these signs may also be accompanied by discharge or redness in the ear canal. However, it can be difficult to diagnose the specific cause without a professional examination.

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take your Shih Poo to the veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. In the meantime, it is also important to avoid any home remedies or treatments as it may worsen the problem.

To prevent ear problems from occurring, regular ear cleaning is essential. You can learn more about the importance of ear cleaning for Shih Poo dogs here, as well as more about understanding Shih Poo ears here.

Remember, by recognizing the signs of ear problems in your Shih Poo and taking the necessary precautions, you can ensure that your furry friend is happy and healthy. If you are in need of ear cleaning products for your Shih Poo, you can check out our top 3 recommendations here.

Head Tilting and Discharge

When a Shih Poo dog is experiencing ear problems, head tilting and discharge can often be seen as clear indications. This can be quite difficult for pet owners to handle since it can result in discomfort and pain for the dog. It is essential to identify these symptoms early on so that proper treatment can be administered.

Head Tilting:

A head tilt is when your Shih Poo dog appears to tilt their head to one side, which can be a sign of an ear infection. This occurs because the dog tries to alleviate any pain that’s being caused by the infection, which is usually located in one ear. The head tilting can continue until the infection has been treated, and the discomfort has subsided.


Another prominent sign of ear problems in Shih Poo dogs is discharge. Discharge from an infected ear can come in different colors, including yellow, brown, and black. It can also have a foul odor that can be hard to ignore. Discharge is often paired with inflamed ears, which can be red, swollen, and sensitive to touch.

To better understand the signs and symptoms of ear problems in Shih Poo dogs, here is a table of comparison:

Signs of Ear ProblemsHead TiltingDischarge
AppearanceThe dog tilts its head to one sideDischarge from one or both ears
ColorN/AYellow, brown, or black
OdorN/AFoul smell
FluctuationOngoing, constantMay fluctuate
Accompanying SymptomsN/ARedness, inflammation, and sensitivity

If you notice your Shih Poo engaging in excessive head tilting or exhibiting discharge and other symptoms of ear problems, it is essential to bring them to the veterinarian immediately. They’ll be able to provide a proper diagnosis and recommend the best course of treatment to get your pet feeling comfortable and healthy again.

Odor and Redness

One of the most evident signs that your Shih Poo dog is suffering from ear problems is the presence of a foul odor and redness in their ears. This could be caused by a build-up of bacteria or yeast, and it is important to identify the underlying problem and treat it as soon as possible. Here are some of the possible causes of odor and redness in your pet’s ears:

  • Bacterial Infection: A bacterial infection can cause redness, inflammation, and discharge in your pet’s ears. The discharge may have a foul odor and can be pus-like or bloody.
  • Yeast Infection: Yeast overgrowth in the ears can lead to redness, inflammation, discharge, and a strong, musty odor.
  • Ear Trauma: Scratching or rubbing the ears can cause irritation and redness, which can eventually lead to an infection.
  • Ear Canal Obstruction: A foreign object, wax buildup, or excessive hair in the ear canal can cause blockage, leading to redness, odor, and discharge.
  • Allergies: In some cases, allergies can cause inflammation in the ears, leading to redness, itching, and a foul odor.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, it is important to take them to the vet immediately. The vet will conduct a thorough examination to identify the underlying cause of the problem and may take a sample of the discharge for analysis.

To prevent ear problems from occurring, it is essential to keep your Shih Poo’s ears clean and dry. Use a veterinarian-recommended ear cleaner and cotton balls to clean your pet’s ears gently. Avoid using Q-tips, as they can push debris further into the ear canal and cause damage. Additionally, keep your pet’s ears free from excess hair, as it can trap moisture and debris, leading to infection.

Odor and redness in your Shih Poo dog’s ears can be caused by various factors such as bacterial or yeast infections, ear trauma, obstruction, and allergies. Early identification and treatment of these problems are crucial to avoid further complications. Proper ear hygiene and regular visits to the vet can help keep your Shih Poo healthy and happy.

Common Ear Problems

Common Ear Problems
It’s not uncommon for our furry friends to experience ear problems, including our beloved Shih Poo dogs. These issues can range from mild to severe and can seriously impact their quality of life. Understanding and identifying these common ear problems is crucial in providing the best possible care for your furry friend. Let’s take a closer look at some of these issues and learn how to treat them effectively.

Otitis Externa

Otitis externa is a painful ear condition that affects Shih Poo dogs. It is caused by the inflammation of the external ear canal and can be caused by a variety of factors including allergies, infections, or foreign objects.

Here are some symptoms of otitis externa to look out for in your Shih Poo:

Signs of Otitis ExternaDescription
Ear scratching and shakingIf your Shih Poo is constantly scratching or shaking their head, it may indicate that they are experiencing discomfort in their ears.
Redness and swellingThe external ear may appear red and swollen, and may be warm to the touch.
OdorIf your Shih Poo’s ear smells unpleasant, it may be a sign of infection.
DischargeA yellow or brown discharge may be present in the ear canal.

As a Shih Poo owner, it’s important to take action if you suspect your furry friend is suffering from otitis externa. Left untreated, this condition can lead to hearing loss and even spread to the inner ear.

To treat otitis externa, your veterinarian may recommend a combination of cleaning, medications, and prevention measures. Topical medications like ear drops or antibiotics may be prescribed to reduce inflammation and fight off infections.

It’s important to note that ear cleaning is a crucial part of managing otitis externa. Regular cleaning can help remove excess debris and prevent buildup that can cause infections to return. Your veterinarian may recommend a specific ear cleaner or provide you with tips for cleaning your Shih Poo’s ears at home.

Prevention measures can also be effective in reducing the risk of otitis externa. Keeping your dog’s ears dry and clean, avoiding exposure to irritants or allergens, and monitoring for signs of infection can all help keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

If you notice any symptoms of otitis externa in your Shih Poo, it’s important to act quickly and seek treatment from your veterinarian. With proper care and management, your furry friend can enjoy a life free from the discomfort of ear problems.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny parasites that can infect your Shih Poo’s ears and cause a lot of discomfort. These mites are highly contagious and can easily spread between pets. Here are some signs that your Shih Poo may have ear mites:

  • Ear Scratching: Your Shih Poo will scratch at their ears incessantly as ear mites cause intense itching and irritation.
  • Brown Discharge: The ears will have a dark brown discharge that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Foul Odor: Your pet’s ear may smell unpleasant due to the discharge.

If you suspect that your Shih Poo has ear mites, it’s important to take them to the vet. Your vet will perform a physical examination of the ears and take a sample of the discharge to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment:The most common treatment for ear mites in Shih Poos is medicated ear drops or ointments that contain insecticides to kill the mites. It is important to follow the vet’s instructions carefully and administer the medicine for the full recommended course of treatment, even if your pet seems to be feeling better.

Prevention:Since ear mites are highly contagious, it’s important to take steps to prevent them from spreading. If one of your pets has ear mites, you should isolate them from other pets until treatment is complete. Regularly cleaning your Shih Poo’s ears can also help prevent ear mites and other ear infections.

Foreign Objects

One of the common ear problems that Shih Poo dogs may encounter is the presence of foreign objects in their ears. These could be anything from grass and dirt to small toys or insects, and they can cause a lot of discomfort and pain to your furry friend. If you notice that your Shih Poo is persistently pawing, scratching, or rubbing their ears or if they are tilting their head, this could be a sign that something is stuck inside their ear canal.

Symptoms of Foreign Objects in the Ear:

  • Increased ear scratching
  • Tilting the head to one side
  • Shaking the head
  • Discharge or bleeding from one ear
  • Pain or discomfort when touched on the head or ear

If you suspect that your Shih Poo has a foreign object in their ear, it is essential to have them seen by a veterinarian to avoid damaging their ear canal further. Attempting to remove the object yourself can cause more harm than good, as the object may be lodged too deep, causing damage or injuring your furry friend’s ear.

Treatment options:

  • The vet may use forceps, a special spray, or a flushing solution to remove the foreign object safely and painlessly.
  • In some cases, anesthesia may be necessary to ease discomfort and make the removal process less stressful for your furry friend.
  • In severe cases, surgery may be necessary if the object is too large, too deep, or cannot be removed. This would be done under anesthesia to limit pain and ensure the safety of your Shih Poo.


  • Check your Shih Poo’s ears regularly for any foreign objects, and remove them immediately to avoid any discomfort or pain.
  • Avoid letting your furry friend play with small toys that can be easily swallowed or lodged in their ears.
  • Keep your furry friend’s ears clean and dry to reduce the risk of infections or other ear problems that may cause discomfort.

Foreign objects in your Shih Poo’s ear can cause a lot of harm and discomfort. Always seek the help of a veterinarian to avoid further problems and ensure the safe and painless removal of the object. Remember to keep your Shih Poo’s ears clean, dry, and free of any foreign objects to reduce the risk of these issues.

Ear Hematoma

An ear hematoma is a condition where blood accumulates between the cartilage and skin of the ear flap. This usually occurs when a dog shakes its head excessively due to an ear infection or other ear problems.

Signs of Ear Hematoma:

  • Swelling of the ear flap
  • Visible blood vessels or blood-filled pockets
  • Tenderness and pain in the affected ear
  • Ear drooping or bending abnormally

If you suspect that your Shih Poo might have an ear hematoma, it is best to take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. Leaving the hematoma untreated can cause further damage to the ear and lead to permanent disfigurement.

3 Treatment Options for Ear Hematoma:

  • Drainage: This is a common treatment for ear hematomas. The vet will numb the affected area and use a needle to drain the accumulated blood. However, this procedure can be painful and may require follow-up visits to the vet.
  • Steroids: In some cases, the vet may prescribe steroids to reduce the swelling and inflammation of the ear. This can help the body absorb the accumulated blood gradually.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery might be required to treat the hematoma. The vet will make a small incision on the ear and suture the skin to the cartilage. This will prevent the ear from filling up with blood again, but the recovery period can be long.

Prevention of Ear Hematoma:

  • Prevent ear infections by keeping your Shih Poo’s ears clean and dry.
  • Handle your dog’s ears with care and avoid excessively pulling or twisting them.
  • Trim your Shih Poo’s nails regularly, as scratches from long nails can cause ear hematomas.

If you suspect your Shih Poo has an ear hematoma, it is important to seek veterinary attention promptly to prevent further damage to the ear. Treatment options include drainage, steroids, or surgery, and prevention measures include keeping your dog’s ears clean and dry and handling them with care.


One of the most common causes of ear problems in Shih Poo dogs is allergies. Allergies can occur due to exposure to certain foods, environmental factors, or even parasites. If your Shih Poo suffers from allergies, you may notice several signs that could indicate an ear problem.

Symptoms of ear allergies include excessive scratching, licking, or chewing on the paws. Your Shih Poo may also start rubbing their face against furniture or the floor. These symptoms occur due to the irritation and inflammation caused by the allergy. As a result, the ears may become inflamed and produce discharge, leading to redness and discomfort.

It is important to identify the source of your dog’s allergic reaction in order to properly treat it. If the allergy is due to food, consider changing their diet to something hypoallergenic or with a limited ingredient list. If the allergy is environmental, try to minimize exposure to the allergen. In some cases, ear problems caused by allergies may also be treated with antihistamines, corticosteroids, or immunotherapy.

Preventing allergies is not always possible, but there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of an ear problem. Consistent ear cleaning is crucial to ensuring your dog’s ears stay healthy and free of infection. Do not use cotton swabs or other tools to clean deep in the ear canal, as this can damage the ear. Instead, use a gentle ear cleaning solution and massage the base of the ear to loosen up any debris.

Allergies are a common cause of ear problems in Shih Poo dogs. By identifying the source of the allergy and taking appropriate steps to treat and prevent it, you can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

Treatment and Prevention

As a Shih Poo owner, it’s crucial to be proactive when it comes to ear problems. If you notice any signs of discomfort, it’s important to seek treatment to alleviate any discomfort and prevent future issues. In this section, we will explore some of the best ways to treat and prevent ear problems in your furry friend. So, let’s dive into some of the most effective methods that will keep your Shih Poo’s ears healthy and happy!

Cleaning Your Shih Poo’s Ears

Proper ear cleaning is crucial for preventing and treating ear problems in Shih Poo dogs. Here are the steps to safely clean your pup’s ears:

Step 1Prepare the Cleaning Solution. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and water or use a commercial ear cleaning solution recommended by your veterinarian.
Step 2Get the Right Tools. You’ll need cotton balls, cotton swabs, and gloves (optional).
Step 3Secure and Inspect Your Shih Poo. Restrain your pup gently, and inspect the ears for any signs of infection, discharge, or irritation. If there is any, consult your veterinarian before cleaning.
Step 4Wipe the Ear Flap. Dip a cotton ball into the cleaning solution, squeeze out the excess, and gently wipe the ear flap’s inner and outer surfaces. Repeat with a fresh cotton ball if necessary.
Step 5Clean the Ear Canal. Soak a cotton swab in the cleaning solution, squeeze out the excess, and wipe the ear canal’s accessible areas gently. Don’t insert the cotton swab deep into the ear canal as it can damage the eardrum. Repeat with a fresh cotton swab if necessary.
Step 6Dry the Ear. Use a dry cotton ball or a clean, dry cloth to pat the ear dry. Avoid using a hairdryer or other heat sources as they can burn your pup’s skin or worsen any existing inflammation.

Repeat this process on the other ear, and don’t forget to praise and treat your pup for their cooperation. Clean your Shih Poo’s ears once a week or as recommended by your veterinarian to maintain their health and prevent ear problems.


When ear problems arise in Shih Poo dogs, one of the most common treatments is medication. Depending on the type of ear problem, the medication may vary. Here are some common medications that your veterinarian may prescribe for your furry friend:

Medication NameFunctionSide Effects
AntibioticsUsed to treat bacterial infections causing ear problems. Can be administered orally, topically or via injection.Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, allergic reactions, and fungal infections.
CorticosteroidsUsed to reduce inflammation and swelling in the ear canal. Can be applied topically or injected.Lethargy, increased appetite, increased thirst and urination, and susceptibility to infections.
AntifungalUsed to treat fungal infections. Can be applied as ointment, cream, or given orally.Upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver dysfunction.
AntiparasiticUsed to treat ear mites. Can be applied topically as a lotion or given orally.Mild skin irritation.

It is important to always administer the medication as prescribed by your veterinarian. If you notice any severe side effects or if your dog’s condition worsens, seek immediate veterinary care. Remember that not all ear problems can be treated with medication alone, so it is important to seek a professional opinion in case surgical intervention is necessary.


In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat ear problems in Shih Poo dogs. This is usually a last resort when other treatments have proven unsuccessful. Surgery may be required if the ear problem is caused by a tumor or growth that cannot be treated with medication or cleaning.

Types of Ear Surgery for Shih Poo Dogs

There are several types of ear surgery that can be performed on Shih Poo dogs with ear problems, depending on the type and severity of the problem. These include:

Type of SurgeryDescription
Lateral Ear ResectionThis is the removal of the entire ear canal and eardrum. It is usually performed only in severe cases of chronic ear infections that have not responded to other treatments.
Ventral Bulla OsteotomyThis involves making an incision in the ventral bulla (the bony structure in the inner ear) to remove infected tissue and clean the ear canal. It is commonly used to treat chronic otitis media (middle ear infection).
Total Ear Canal Ablation (TECA)This is the complete removal of the ear canal and eardrum. It is a more invasive surgery than lateral ear resection and is only performed if the dog’s ear infection has caused irreversible damage to the ear canal.

Recovery after Ear Surgery

Recovery from ear surgery will depend on the type of procedure performed and the dog’s overall health. Your veterinarian will provide you with specific post-operative care instructions, but in general, you can expect your Shih Poo to need a few weeks of rest and recovery time. Pain medications and antibiotics may be prescribed to manage pain and prevent infection.

It is essential to monitor your Shih Poo closely after ear surgery and follow all post-operative care instructions provided by your veterinarian. Although ear surgery can be a significant event for both you and your dog, it can be a lifesaver in cases of severe and chronic ear problems.


Preventing ear problems in your Shih Poo involves a few simple steps that you can easily incorporate into your regular pet care routine.

Steps to Prevent Ear Problems in Shih PoosExplanation
Regular cleaning of earsRegular cleaning of your Shih Poo’s ears can prevent the buildup of wax, debris, and moisture that can cause ear infections. Use a gentle, pet-specific ear cleaning solution and a cotton ball to clean the outer ear canal. Make sure not to clean the ear canal too deeply, as this can cause injury.
Regular groomingRegular grooming of your Shih Poo can help prevent ear problems. Trimming the hair around the ears can help to prevent moisture from getting trapped in the ear canal, which can lead to infections. Additionally, maintaining your Shih Poo’s overall hygiene and cleanliness can help prevent skin irritations and allergies that can contribute to ear problems.
Monitor your Shih Poo’s behaviorKeep an eye on your Shih Poo’s behavior to detect any signs of ear problems early on. Regularly check your dog’s ears for any unusual odor, discharge, redness, or swelling. If you notice any of these signs, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Regular vet visitsRegular visits with your veterinarian can help identify any potential ear problems in your Shih Poo early on. Your veterinarian can perform routine ear exams to check for signs of irritation, inflammation, or infection. Additionally, your veterinarian can recommend preventative measures, such as ear cleaning solutions or parasite preventative medications, to help prevent ear problems in your Shih Poo.

By taking these simple preventative measures, you can help ensure the overall health and well-being of your Shih Poo and reduce the likelihood of developing common ear problems. Remember to always consult your veterinarian if you suspect your Shih Poo is experiencing ear problems, as early detection and treatment can help prevent complications and discomfort for your furry friend.


In conclusion, it’s important to keep an eye on your Shih Poo’s ears and seek medical attention if you notice any signs of ear problems. Whether it’s ear scratching and shaking, head tilting and discharge, or odor and redness, these are all indications that something is off.

Some common ear problems in Shih Poo dogs include otitis externa, ear mites, foreign objects, ear hematoma, and allergies. Each of these conditions requires a different approach to treatment, ranging from cleaning your Shih Poo’s ears to medications and even surgery in severe cases.

The good news is that many ear problems in Shih Poo dogs can be prevented through regular cleaning and proper grooming. By keeping your Shih Poo’s ears clean and dry, you can minimize the risk of infection and other ear-related issues.

Remember, your Shih Poo is counting on you to take care of them, and their ears are a vital part of their overall health and happiness. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a veterinarian if you think your pup may be experiencing ear problems. With the right care and attention, you can help your furry friend live their best life.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should I clean my Shih Poo’s ears?

You should clean your Shih Poo’s ears at least once a week to prevent ear problems from developing.

2. Can I clean my Shih Poo’s ears myself?

Yes, you can clean your Shih Poo’s ears yourself. However, you should follow proper cleaning techniques to avoid causing any damage to their ears.

3. How can I tell if my Shih Poo has ear mites?

If your Shih Poo is shaking their head frequently and scratching their ears, it could indicate ear mites. You may also notice dark, waxy discharge in their ears.

4. Can I use human ear drops on my Shih Poo?

No, you should never use human ear drops on your Shih Poo. Some ear drops can be harmful to dogs and cause further damage to their ears.

5. How can I prevent ear problems in my Shih Poo?

Regular cleaning and grooming, keeping their ears dry, and avoiding exposure to irritants can help prevent ear problems in your Shih Poo.

6. What should I do if my Shih Poo has a foreign object in their ear?

If you suspect that your Shih Poo has a foreign object in their ear, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Take them to the vet immediately for treatment.

7. Can ear problems in Shih Poos be hereditary?

While ear problems in Shih Poos are not necessarily hereditary, some breeding practices can increase the likelihood of certain health issues.

8. What types of medications are used to treat ear problems in Shih Poos?

Antibiotics, anti-fungal medications, and corticosteroids may be prescribed to treat ear problems in Shih Poos, depending on the underlying condition.

9. Can surgery be necessary to treat ear problems in Shih Poos?

In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to treat ear problems in Shih Poos, particularly for conditions such as ear hematomas.

10. Is it possible for my Shih Poo to develop allergies that affect their ears?

Yes, allergies can cause inflammation and irritation in your Shih Poo’s ears, leading to ear problems such as otitis externa.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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