Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Please ensure that your pet is either in a travel crate or on a leash before bringing them to their appointment.

Ruptured Eardrums in Dogs

Does it seem like your dog is ignoring you? Your pup might have a ruptured eardrum. Our veterinarians in Jackson explain how to tell if your dog may have a ruptured eardrum, and share tips to treat this canine condition.

What to Know About a Dog's Eardrum

Dogs have three sections in their ears: outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. The middle ear contains the smallest bones, including malleus, incus, and stapes. The eardrum is very delicate and can easily be damaged during ear cleaning or as a result of infection or disease.

The eardrum is responsible for carrying sounds from the environment to the three bones in the middle ear and then to the labyrinth. Any issue affecting the eardrum's structure and integrity, such as an infection or perforation, can significantly impair a dog's hearing ability. If a dog has any problem with their eardrum, it is a severe health issue that requires immediate veterinary attention.

What Happens When a Dog’s Eardrum Ruptures

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, you should take him to a veterinarian right away for emergency care. These symptoms include:

  • Ear pain
  • Pus-like discharge from the ear
  • Sudden hearing loss
  • An inflamed or red ear canal
  • Shaking their head
  • Tilting their head
  • Incoordination or stumbling
  • Nystagmus or eyes that dart back and forth
  • Paralysis of the face including the inability to blink
Neurological signs such as stumbling, nystagmus, and a drooping face may indicate other serious problems. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, it's important to take them to the vet immediately.

Causes of Eardrum Ruptures in Dogs

Your dog's eardrum can rupture due to various reasons, many of which can be prevented with caution. Here are some of the most common causes of eardrum ruptures:

Ear Infections: Ear infections are the leading cause of eardrum rupture. Long-term inflammation can lead to a rupture in chronic ear infections. When the membrane ruptures, bacteria and yeast from the outer ear can enter the middle and inner ear, leading to a more severe infection.

Loud Noises: A ruptured eardrum can be caused by being too close to loud noises, such as fireworks displays or gunshots. Although loud noise from afar won't harm your dog, being too close to an extremely loud noise will.

Trauma: A dog's eardrum can be damaged from a traumatic injury, such as being hit by a car or falling from a great height.

Polyps or Masses: If a polyp or mass grows too large in your dog's ear canal, it can press against and rupture the eardrum.

Drastic Changes in Atmospheric Pressure: An eardrum rupture can be caused by sudden and severe changes in air pressure, such as during a flight in an airplane.

Foreign Object in the Ear: Did you know that a dog's ear canal is L-shaped, making it hard to puncture the eardrum? Even though it is a rare case, migrating foxtail can enter the body and migrate into tissues, causing abscesses and infections. 

How to Know if Your Dog's Eardrum Has Ruptured

A veterinarian can detect whether your dog's eardrum has ruptured. If your dog is experiencing significant swelling, debris in the ears, or pain, they will most likely require sedation or anesthesia. Pain relievers and general anesthesia can keep your dog calm and relaxed while its injured ear is cleaned and examined.

Once your dog is sedated (if necessary), the vet will gently flush out debris to clean the ear canal. After the ear has been cleaned, the eardrum can be seen with an otoscope, which is used to diagnose a perforated eardrum.

Your veterinarian may order additional diagnostic tests to rule out other possible causes and determine the presence of an infection. In some cases, a CT scan may be necessary to determine if an eardrum has ruptured and if there is an infection in the inner ear.

How to Treat Eardrum Ruptures in Dogs

If your dog's eardrum ruptures, your veterinarian will discuss the available treatment options with you. A thorough ear flushing is required to remove any foreign matter or pus, which is usually done under sedation.

Your dog may also need oral antifungal and antibiotic medications. If your dog is in pain or experiencing inflammation, corticosteroids may be prescribed.

It is essential to avoid over-the-counter medications as they can be harmful to your dog. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair extensive damage caused by the ruptured eardrums. Your veterinarian will suggest the best surgical procedure for your dog.

Helping Your Dog Recover From a Ruptured Ear Drum

If your dog has a ruptured eardrum, following your veterinarian's treatment plan is important. If surgery is not necessary, the eardrum will usually heal on its own within three to six weeks.

However, if your dog requires surgery, the recovery time will be longer, and they will need more frequent veterinary visits. Depending on the severity of the rupture, your dog could suffer from permanent hearing loss or neurological complications.

So, listening to your veterinarian's advice and caring for your furry friend accordingly is crucial.

Do you think your dog might be suffering from a ruptured eardrum? Contact our Jackson vets today to book an appointment for your dog.

New Patients Welcome

North Madison Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of all companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Book Online (731) 664-6200