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Why Does My Dog Have Spots on Its Ears? (5 Causes to Look For)

Spots in or on the dogs’ ears usually appear as a result of dermatitis, which has multiple causes. Besides, spots can also be harmless, caused by hyperpigmentation. Contact the veterinarian if the spots appear suddenly, increase in size, or if they cause intense itching.

Some dogs are born with pigment spots. These are usually brown or black, located all over their body. Including their ears. 

These are considered beauty marks and are completely harmless.

Spots on the ears can also develop due to dermatitis, which generally causes intense itching. 

This itching and subsequent pain can be a constant problem for your dog. It can also lead to various colored spots and scars. 

In this article, you will learn what the causes of spots on dogs’ ears are, what red, black, or white spots represent, and more.

Why Does My Dog Have Spots in Its Ear?

There are many reasons why dogs get spots on their ears. Depending on the cause, the spots can be red, black, brown, or white. The only spots on dogs’ ears that are harmless are pigmented spots. Other spots need examination by a vet.

Some dogs are born with spots all over their bodies, including their ears. These black-brown spots are pigment spots and are considered beauty marks. They are not dangerous.

Hyperpigmentation spots on dogs’ ears can also appear for other reasons:

  • Sun exposure
  • Old age

Spots on dogs’ ears can also appear due to dermatitis. Dermatitis can be caused by many things:

  • Parasites
  • Allergies
  • Bacteria
  • Yeast
  • Lesions
  • Seborrhea
Why Does My Dog Have Spots in Its Ear

Depending on the cause, spots on dogs’ ears can have different colors:

  • Red
  • Brown
  • Black
  • White
Spots colorCauses
Red spotsBacterial dermatitis. The spots are usually accompanied by crusts and dry skin. Insect bites and acne.
Brown spotsAllergies and parasites, flea dirt, hyperpigmentation, and acne.
Black spotsHyperpigmentation and bacterial infection, fungal infection, yeast Infection, and acne.
White spotsPimples or acne.

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Dermatitis

Dermatitis is one of the medical conditions that cause spots of different colors on the ears of dogs. There are many causes of dermatitis, and it usually occurs all over their bodies, including the ears.

Many skin conditions can irritate the ears. Most are secondary to dermatitis. 

It is unusual for a skin condition to only affect your dog’s ears. It’s likely they experience a skin condition on other parts of their body if they experience itching, redness, spots, and inflammation in the ears.

If your dog has ear mites, the ears are usually the only part of the body affected. Ear mites are one of the most common causes of ear dermatitis in dogs.

Some of the causes of ear dermatitis in dogs are:

  • Ear mites
  • Allergies
  • Humidity
  • Lesions/wounds
  • Seborrhea

Signs of auricular dermatitis vary depending on the cause, but almost all dermatitis cause itching and redness of the ears. Some dogs don’t have symptoms at all, in which case the problem can only be noticed during a routine checkup. 

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Dermatitis

In 90% of all dermatitis cases, you will usually see the following symptoms:

  • Hair loss around the ears
  • Redness and swelling
  • Foul-smelling discharge
  • Red or dark spots
  • Scabs, lesions
  • Bleeding
  • Excessive scratching
  • Crust or scaling on the edges of the ear

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Ear Mites

Ear mites (Otodectes cynotis) cause a parasitic disease of the external auditory canal. [1] They feed on epidermal debris and earwax and live and reproduce in the ear canal of pets.

Contamination occurs through direct contact between dogs, especially in kennels or shelters. They need to stay attached, as they can’t survive more than a few days in the external environment.

Dogs with ear mites show the following symptoms:

  • Head shaking
  • Intense scratching.
  • The presence of dry and black cerumen in the ear – can give the sensation of black spots in the ears.
  • Scabs in and on the ear.
  • Dark and smelly ear discharge

Take your dog to the vet immediately if your dog shows these symptoms as it can transmit it to other pets, including cats.

Ear mites are not transmissible to humans.

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Ear Mites

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Allergies

Allergies can cause red spots on the skin, including in and on the ears. The spots are of different sizes and irregular shapes.

The most common causes of allergies are as follows:[2]

  • Contact
  • Pollen
  • Food
  • Medication
  • Fleas (flea allergy dermatitis)

Symptoms of allergies include:

  • Red spots on the body
  • Intense itching
  • Intense scratching
  • Hair loss, especially in the areas where your dog scratches the most

Intense scratching and humidity can cause secondary ear infections (with bacteria and/or fungi). 

If your dog only shows red spots initially (with few other symptoms), when dermatitis becomes infected, your pet can also develop the following symptoms:

  • Head shaking
  • The ear canal is red and inflamed
  • Dark and smelly ear discharge
  • Holding the head to the side of the affected ear
  • The affected ear is warmer than usual to the touch
  • Pain when touching the affected ear (sometimes)

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Lesions or Wounds

Wounds can manifest as spots on the ears. These are caused by bites from other animals, burns, lacerations, and more. They generally cause inflammation of the skin. 

If the lesions occur around your dog’s ears, they will be red, hot to the touch, and painful.

Wounds can become infected if they are not treated.

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Lesions or Wounds

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Seborrhea

Seborrhea (seborrheic dermatitis) is a medical condition in which the sebaceous glands produce too much sebum. 

Symptoms of this condition include:[3]

  • Dry, scaly skin (dandruff)
  • Itching
  • Redness of the skin – red-brown spots on the whole body
  • The most common causes of seborrhea in dogs are:[4]
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Allergies

Other Causes for Spots on Dogs’ Ears

Other causes for the appearance of spots on dogs’ ears include insect bites and acne.

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Insect Bites

Insects prefer to feed on places with little or no hair, such as the following places:

  • Belly
  • Groin area
  • The inner face of the ears
  • Armpits

Most insect bites are harmless and only cause a local reaction that can appear in the form of a small red spot or a red swelling. Insect bites are typically itchy.

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Insect Bites

Spots on Dogs’ Ears Caused by Acne

Dogs can get pimples and acne on their ears, which appear as small red, dark, or white spots. 

Acne and pimples are caused by the following factors:[5]

  • Breed
  • Genetics
  • Environmental allergies
  • Food allergies
  • Friction
  • Old age
  • Poor hygiene
  • Trauma

In some cases, acne can turn into cysts or boils.

When they look like blackheads, they are called open comedones. When they are whiteheads, they are called closed comedones.

When Should I Seek Treatment for My Dog’s Spots on Its Ears?

Seek treatment as soon as you notice your dog’s spots on its ears. Spots on dogs’ ears are not a medical emergency but can become infected if not treated in time.

Seek treatment if the spots on your dog’s ears are accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Intense itching and scratching
  • Dark and smelly discharge
  • Head shaking
  • The presence of crusts
  • Hair loss


What Does My Dog Have Scabs and Crusts on Its Ears?

Scabs and crusts especially appear on the ears of breeds with long ears. These dogs are more prone to infections and trauma. Other causes of crusts and scabs on dogs’ ears include parasites (especially ear mites), frostbites, allergies, autoimmune disorders, seborrhea, or ear fissures.

About Iulia Mihai (DVM)

Dr. Iulia is a certified veterinarian with more than 10 years of experience in the field. With extensive knowledge of diet, care, and medication, she helps Misfit Animals provide readers with accurate knowledge on technical topics.

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