Seeing scabs on the edge of a dog’s ears is pretty common. However, there are certain cases when it indicates a severe health issue. This is especially true for breeds with long, floppy ears.
While only a veterinarian can accurately determine whether the scabs on a dog’s ear margin are a cause of concern, blogs such as this one can also give you some preliminary insights.
Check out the rest of this article to learn more about the causes of scabs on a dog’s ears and what you can do to prevent and treat them.
What Do Scabs on a Dog’s Ears Mean?
Almost always, the scabs in the margins of a dog’s ear are caused by ear dermatitis. The crusting is typically accompanied by alopecia, crusting, ulceration, seborrhea, and necrosis. Itchiness may also be present.
Ear dermatitis can be identified if your dog is also scratching or chewing on its ears, keeps shaking its head, and produces a foul-smelling discharge in its ears that may be of different colors.
Check out this video to see how the scabs on the edge of a dog’s ears look:
Ear Dermatitis vs. Ear Margin Hyperkeratosis: How to Tell the Difference
Ear margin hyperkeratosis, on the other hand, is characterized by the thickening of the skin on the dog’s ears. Some say it is a side effect of hypothyroidism or hair follicle problems.
But most vets agree that ear margin hyperkeratosis is a primary keratinization defect. In other words, there’s no condition that causes it because it is the condition.
What this means is that you only have to treat the ears because there’s no underlying illness that causes it, unlike ear dermatitis, which is a result of multiple conditions.
What Causes Crusty Scabs on a Dog’s Ears?
Treating the crusty scabs on a dog’s ears means dealing with the underlying conditions that cause ear dermatitis. Below are the five conditions you should address to treat crusty scabs on a dog’s ears.
Allergies in dogs have many different symptoms, including itchiness and scratching, which can lead to scabbing in a dog’s ears.
Typically, allergies are caused by various stimuli, such as contact with some substances, pollen, and even food.
Mange is a type of skin disease caused by mites burrowing into the dog’s skin. The two types of mange (demodectic and sarcoptic) can cause redness, swelling, hair loss, and severe itchiness for any breed.
This extreme itchiness, similar to that caused by allergies, can lead to scabbing in your dog’s ears.
Cellulitis targets puppies that are one to four months of age. Pus-filled bumps appear on their skin due to bacterial infection and result in itchiness.
When the dog aggressively scratches its ears, scabbing on the edges occurs.
If another animal bit your dog on the ears and had lacerations, burns, or bug bites, expect that there would really be scabbing. The treatment for this would depend on how severe the injury is.
Seborrhea is a lifetime disorder in dogs that is commonly caused by cold weather, abnormal keratin production, hormonal imbalances, allergies, and vitamin deficiencies.
It causes very dry coats, large amounts of earwax, itchiness, and crusted lesions that can also be found on the dog’s ears.
Other Possible Causes of Scabs on the Edges of a Dog’s Ears
Other than ear dermatitis, scabbing on the edges of a dog’s ears can be caused by ringworm, frostbite, and cold agglutinin disease.
Flystrike, autoimmune disorder, trauma caused by ear fissures or aural hematoma, and cancer can also be the root causes.
If the scab doesn’t heal in a few days or weeks, chances are, your dog is suffering from a much more serious condition.
Your veterinarian would do thorough testing to identify the exact cause. If it is cancer, then they would have to operate.
Treatment for Scabs on Dog’s Ears
The treatment for the scabs on your dog’s ears would depend on its cause. If the culprit is ear dermatitis, then you would have to address each of the conditions we discussed earlier.
For ear scabbing caused by allergies, you need to work with a veterinary dermatologist to identify what your dog is allergic to. They would conduct allergy tests and prescribe medication based on the results.
Usually, dogs with scabbing due to allergies are given an antihistamine injection, as it provides immediate relief.
As for mange, some of the most effective treatments are selamectin, ivermectin, afoxolaner, permethrin, and sulfurated lime rinse. This is given over several months.
Cellulitis, on the other hand, is treated through antibiotic injection. Remember that this is caused by bacterial infection, so the only effective treatment would be antibiotics.
Scabs that are caused by injuries call for specific treatment plans, too. Burns should be treated with burn creams; animal bites should be treated with antiseptic and corticosteroids; and bug bites with anti-insect repellant or antiseptic.
Lastly, seborrhea can be managed with a moisturizer, mild soap, and water.
How to Prevent Scabs on Dog’s Ears
There’s no one size fits all advice for preventing scabs in dogs’ ears. Since it may be caused by a lot of factors, working to improve these underlying conditions can be the key to preventing scabs.
Ultimately, veterinarians suggest cleaning your dog’s surroundings, doing a long-term nutritional management plan (ideally, a hypoallergenic diet), removing offending substances nearby, and limiting sun exposure.
If your dog had scabs before and you want to prevent them from recurring, follow your vet’s past advice, or contact them for a more updated and tailored treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Can I Put on My Dog’s Crusty Ears?
If your dog has crusty ears and doesn’t heal even after days or weeks, don’t put anything on it.
The best course of action is to contact a veterinarian so they can identify what’s causing the crust or scab. From there, they can give the correct medication.
Can I Put Vaseline on My Dog’s Ear Scabs?
You should not put vaseline on your dog’s ear scabs unless a veterinarian instructs.
If you cannot bring your dog to the vet for some reason, use coconut oil. Aside from its moisturizing abilities, it has some antifungal and antibiotic effects.
Can I Pick Ear Scabs Off My Dog?
You should not pick the ear scabs off your dog because doing so would cause bleeding and scarring.
What you should do is contact the vet to determine the cause of the scabs and then follow their treatment instructions accordingly. You may also ask them for a topical medication on the scabs.
The scabs on the edge of a dog’s ears can be caused by a range of issues. Instead of giving home remedies, it is better to consult a veterinarian to identify the root cause of your dog’s scab.
You want to avoid putting anything on the crusting, as it may cause more harm than good. Also, the scabbing is almost always a result of a more serious issue that should be addressed if you want the crusting to stop.
Any thoughts on our blog or experiences you want to share related to ear scabs on dogs’ ears? Feel free to leave a comment below.