Can Ear Infections Cause Seizures in Dogs?

Posted by Lianne McLeod on

can ear infections cause seizures?

Research into the causes of canine seizures has been done over the years and one of the main reasons found is having underlying medical conditions[1]. One question that often troubles pet owners is “Can an ear infection affect your pup to the extent that they experience seizures?”

By the end of this guide, we will have answers to this and much more.

What Causes Dog Seizures?

Seizures are a common neurological disorder affecting dogs just like humans. In dogs, most seizures have no inherent medical causes (idiopathic seizures) and result from abnormal bursts of electrical activities in the brain [2]. Nonetheless, evidence points out that seizures are caused by multiple factors such as heat stroke, ingestion of toxins, head injuries, genetics, and even parasites [1].

Dogs suffering from certain medical conditions such as cancerous tumors, low blood sugar, kidney and liver conditions, and thyroid problems, among others also experience seizures. It's important to get your pup diagnosed to determine if they might be predisposed to seizures due to certain medical conditions.

Can an Ear Infection Cause Seizures?

There's no evidence that ear infections can cause seizures since these fits are usually triggered by irregular brain activity yet ear infections only affect the ears. Your pup might shake, roll, and even lose balance, which might look like a seizure, but it’s only reacting to the irritation from the ear infection.

Severe and chronic ear infections can cause secondary health issues that may affect the brain and cause seizures, but ear infections alone don’t cause seizures in dogs. Moreover, it has been found that certain breeds of dogs are prone to ear infections more than others.

dogs sitting side by side

Causes of Ear Infections in Dogs

Ear infections in pups are often caused by food or environmental allergies which cause swelling and wounds in the inner, outer, and middle ear regions[3]. Poor hygiene when it comes to cleaning the ears of our furry friends also contributes to infections. However excessive cleaning of a dog's ear can cause abrasion and wounds which can cause ear infections as well.

Another reason your furry friend might have an ear infection is because of moisture in the ear lobes, maybe due to humid conditions. Ear mites can also cause infections in your dog’s ears alongside allergic reactions.

Symptoms of Ear Infections in Dogs

When affected by ear infections, it might manifest as scratching of ears, scratching of the head, scratching under the ears or near the cheeks, and rubbing ears or head on other objects. In addition, you might also notice a foul smell coming from the ears because of the infection. Severe infections can even cause visible discharge.

Treatment of Ear Infections in Dogs

Luckily, ear infections are usually not fatal in dogs. If treated properly, you can get rid of any infections in your little bundle of joy. The easiest and most effective way is through maintaining good hygiene. You can also manage the conditions through antibiotic and antifungal medication. These can be oral, ointments, and even home remedies.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following answer were generated by the Lolahemp team and reviewed by Dr. Lianne McLeod.

What Do Dog Seizures Look Like?

Dog seizures encompass sudden, uncontrolled muscle movements, altered behavior, and potential loss of consciousness. During a seizure, dogs may experience convulsions, muscle twitching, drooling, and involuntary movement. It's crucial to recognize these signs to distinguish seizures from other conditions, such as idiopathic epilepsy.

What Are the Causes of Canine Seizures?

Canine seizures can have various triggers, including idiopathic epilepsy, a genetic predisposition to recurring seizures. Additionally, underlying health issues like brain tumors, infections, or exposure to toxins can contribute to seizures. Identifying the underlying cause is pivotal for effective treatment and management, especially when considering dogs prone to ear infections.

Why Do Ear Infections Cause Seizure-Like Symptoms? 

While ear infections themselves don't directly cause seizures, they can induce seizure-like symptoms in dogs. Severe ear infections might trigger neurological reactions due to pain or inflammation affecting the inner ear. This underscores the significance of addressing ear infections promptly to prevent complications and rule out other causes of seizure-like symptoms.


What Are the Main Types of Ear Infections?

Dogs develop ear infections due to factors such as moisture, allergies, or foreign objects. The three primary ear infection types comprise otitis externa (outer ear canal infection), otitis media (middle ear infection), and otitis interna (inner ear infection). Understanding these types guides appropriate treatments and care, especially for breeds prone to seizures.

Should You Visit a Vet for a Dog Ear Infection?

Seeking a veterinarian's expertise is imperative upon suspecting a dog's ear infection. Accurate diagnosis of the infection type and tailored treatment recommendations are critical. Home remedies or over-the-counter solutions may not effectively address the root cause and could exacerbate the condition, potentially leading to seizure-related complications.

What Are the Symptoms of Canine Ear Infections?

Symptoms of canine ear infections encompass head shaking, ear scratching, redness, swelling, odor, discharge, and evident discomfort. Dogs may also exhibit altered behavior due to pain and discomfort from the infection. Early recognition of these symptoms facilitates timely veterinary intervention, crucial for breeds with tendencies toward seizures.

What Owners Should Do to Treat Canine Ear Infections?

Treating canine ear infections entails a comprehensive veterinary approach. Gently cleaning the ear, administering prescribed medications, and adhering to veterinary instructions are paramount steps. Depending on infection type and severity, treatment may encompass antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, or specialized ear drops, which is especially crucial for managing potential seizure-related consequences.

dog running happily


Seizures in dogs are caused by various environmental and medical factors. However, there's no evidence showing that ear infections can contribute to a pup experiencing seizures. Nonetheless, ensure that you regularly check your furry companion's ears and even have your vet examine them regularly whenever you visit for checkups.


  1. Ekenstedt, Kari J., and Anita M. Oberbauer. "Inherited epilepsy in dogs." Topics in Companion Animal Medicine 28.2 (2013): 51-58.
  2. Erlen, Alexander, et al. "Seizure occurrence in dogs under primary veterinary care in the UK: prevalence and risk factors." Journal of veterinary internal medicine 32.5 (2018): 1665-1676.
  3. Sousa, Valéria RF, et al. "In vitro and in vivo efficacy of tea tree essential oil for bacterial and yeast ear infections in dogs1." Pesq. Vet. Bras 38.8 (2018): 1597-1607.

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Lianne McLeod, DVM, is a former writer for The Spruce Pets, contributing articles for 11 years. Before Dr. McLeod began writing about pet care, she worked several years in small animal practice. She has written extensively about the care and keeping of exotic pets and pet health care. She now researches water quality and chronic disease at the University of Saskatchewan. Lianne McLeod earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Simon Fraser University. She continued her education and received a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Now, she splits her time between her family, research and writing about pet health for all the animal lovers out there.
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