Scabs on Dogs' Ears: What to Do?

Different internal and external factors cause visible changes in the skin of dogs, which could degenerate into problems such as scabs. Although it is true that most of them are easy to solve, it is better to take care of them as soon as possible.
Scabs on Dogs' Ears: What to Do?

Last update: 19 August, 2022

Scabs are a defense mechanism that the body has to protect the lesions and allow healing. Although it’s true that they aren’t urgent in themselves, you should check the origin of the wounds, since some causes could indicate a serious problem. We’ll look at scabs on dogs’ ears in this article.

Scabs on dogs’ ears are quite common, as they appear as a response to different conditions or injuries. To top it off, this is one of the most exposed and weakest body parts that exist on a dog’s body. Keep reading and find out why scabs appear on your dog’s ears and what you can do to cure them.

What are scabs?

As mentioned, scabs are actually a protective surface made of platelets and erythrocytes, which has the purpose of protecting skin wounds. These protective layers remain on the area of injury until it heals completely. This means that their presence is temporary and they should last an average of 2 weeks on the skin before falling off, depending on the severity of the wound.

It’s easy to detect the presence of scabs on a dog, as they’re small, amorphous, dark, hardened masses which adhere to the skin. The size depends very much on the size of the lesion, but they aren’t too intrusive unless the problem is serious.

Under no circumstances is it advisable to remove them because it increases the probability of infection. In fact, they need to be handled with care to avoid any damage to the skin. It’s crucial to keep in mind that they could become very annoying for the dog, and so it’s best to keep an eye on them and not let the dog scratch them.

A dog and its owner.

Why do scabs appear on dogs’ ears?

Just as with any other part of the body, scabs on dogs’ ears appear due to injuries, parasitosis, infections, or diseases. The biggest problem facing this area of the body is the exposure and shape it has.

In some dog breeds, droopy ears cause moisture to accumulate and this can lead to infections or parasitosis. On top of that, as they’re so close to the nose, they’re quite likely to be injured when the dog sniffs something or recognizes the terrain. Despite being in pain, the pet is unable to perceive the magnitude and movement of its ears too well, leading to frequent injuries.

What could cause scabs on dogs’ ears?

Apart from injuries, several health problems could cause scabs on dogs’ ears. Among the most common and well-known are the following:

  • Allergies and itching: This is an exaggerated reaction to certain substances in the environment, which is characterized by itching in different parts of the skin. Intense scratching is what causes small wounds that form scabs.
  • Parasitosis: Mites, fleas, mosquitoes, and ticks are microorganisms that can attack the pet’s skin, causing itching, inflammation, and burning. Depending on the severity, the dog could scratch so intensely that it accidentally injures itself and causes scabs.
  • Inadequate diet: Nutrition helps maintain skin hydration and suppleness. When there are nutritional deficiencies, the skin may become dry and itchy. This type of problem also leads to crusting from intense scratching.
  • Excessive bathing: The skin contains natural microorganisms that live on its surface and help maintain its health. If a dog has too many baths, the community of microorganisms is reduced and produces irritation, dryness, and itching. This only encourages scratching and facilitates the formation of wounds.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Some diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, cause the immune system to attack the body’s own cells. Dogs suffering from it show scaling, depigmentation, ulcers, open wounds, and crusting of the nose, face, and ears.
  • Infections: Fungi, bacteria, and viruses can infect the skin and cause various types of wounds. In addition to the typical black crusts that are common, yellow crusts may also appear as a result of infection.

When could they become a problem?

As they’re a protective layer intended to prevent secondary infections, scabs shouldn’t be considered a problem. However, they could be taken as a warning sign if they appear continuously in the same area. In any case, it’s always good to try to identify the origin of the lesions, as resolving the root cause should solve the problem.

The best thing to do is to go to see the veterinarian the moment you detect scabs on your dog’s ears. If the pet’s quality of life is good, then it’s unlikely that the problem is serious, but if it isn’t, then it’ll help to diagnose any health complications early.

A dog scratching.

Diagnosis of scabs

To identify what has caused the presence of scabs, different clinical tests can be used. These may consist of physical examinations, skin scrapings, cultures (bacterial or fungal), cytology, biopsies, blood biochemistry, or even allergy tests. However, the veterinarian will recommend which tests are most appropriate for the pet.

Treatments available for scabs

Once the cause of the dog’s ear scabs has been determined, the veterinarian will initiate an appropriate treatment to control or cure the disease. This may consist of the use of different anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, antibiotics or dewormers. It all depends on the exact cause.

In addition, the use of special shampoos that moisturize and soften the scabs progressively could be recommended. This type of drugs should be used under professional supervision, since they also contain antiseptic substances that do not help in all cases.

It’s also important to reinforce its nutrition with some supplements that provide monounsaturated fats and essential oils. This allows the skin to regain some of its stability and improves the healing process. Keep in mind that not all cases may need this, so ask your veterinarian if it’s wise to offer these supplements.

As you can see, there are many reasons that could lead to scabs on dogs’ ears. However, in most cases, they aren’t a serious or difficult problem to solve. Even so, it’s best to visit a veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis as soon as possible. This way you will avoid unpleasant surprises and complications in the future.

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