Understanding Ear Infections in Cocker Spaniels

Floppy ears are adorable, but they can be prone to infection

CockerSpaniel.org Volunteer Staff

1/16/20242 min read

Causes of Ear Infections

Ear Anatomy

  • Cocker spaniels have long, pendulous ears that create a warm, moist environment – ideal for the growth of bacteria and yeast. The structure of their ears can impede proper air circulation, making them more susceptible to infections.


  • Genetic factors influence a cocker spaniel's predisposition to ear infections. If a dog's parents or siblings have a history of ear issues, it increases the likelihood of the same problem occurring.


  • Allergies, whether food-related or environmental, can contribute to inflammation and irritation in the ears, creating an environment conducive to infection. Learn More.

Ear Wax Buildup

  • Excessive ear wax can trap moisture and debris, providing a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast. Regular cleaning is essential to prevent such buildup. Learn how to clean your dog's ears here.

Signs of Ear Infections

Head-Shaking and Scratching

  • Cocker spaniels with ear infections often display increased head shaking and scratching at their ears. This is a sign of discomfort and irritation.

Foul Odor

  • Infected ears may emit a foul odor, indicative of the presence of bacteria or yeast. Regularly checking your dog's ears for any unusual smells is crucial.

Redness and Swelling

  • Inflamed ears may appear red and swollen. This can be visible on the ear flap or within the ear canal.


  • The presence of discharge, whether pus-like or dark and waxy, is a clear sign of infection. It may also be accompanied by a change in ear color.

Prevention and Management

Regular Cleaning

  • Establish a routine for cleaning your Cocker Spaniel's ears. Use a veterinarian-approved ear-cleaning solution and gently wipe away any accumulated wax or debris. Your veterinarian may prescribe you a medicated ear cleanser to treat the infection and prevent future problems.

Dietary Considerations

  • If allergies are suspected, consult with a veterinarian to determine an appropriate diet. Identifying and managing food allergies can help prevent recurrent ear infections.

Proper Grooming

  • Keep the hair around the ears trimmed to allow better air circulation. This reduces the likelihood of moisture retention and the subsequent growth of bacteria and yeast. Learn more about grooming here.

Prompt Veterinary Care

  • If you notice any signs of an ear infection, seek veterinary attention promptly. Early intervention can prevent the infection from worsening and causing discomfort to your pet.


Cocker Spaniel owners must be vigilant in monitoring their pet's ear health. Regular cleaning, proper grooming, and attention to potential signs of infection can go a long way in preventing and managing ear issues. By understanding the causes and taking proactive measures, you can ensure your Cocker Spaniel enjoys a happy, healthy life with minimal ear-related concerns.


Cocker spaniels are beloved companions known for their affectionate nature and distinctive long, floppy ears. While these adorable ears contribute to their charm, they also make cocker spaniels more prone to ear infections. Ear infections can be a common concern for this breed, but with proper understanding and care, they can be effectively managed.