Have you ever noticed how cuddling with dogs is such a warm experience? We mean both figuratively and literally.
This is because dogs have a higher core body temperature than humans. So they naturally feel warm to the touch.
But in some scenarios, dogs may go from warm to hot when touched. Sometimes it is only the dogs’ ears that are hot to touch. This can understandably be alarming for any pet parent.
There could be different causes why a dog’s ears are hot. The dog could be running a fever; it could be an ear infection, injury, or heatstroke.
The article will look at possible reasons why your dog’s ears can turn hot and how you can best help your pet. We will also look at tips on how you can take care of your dog’s ears.
- How To Tell If the Dog has Hot Ears?
- Dogs’ Ears are Hot? – 6 Possible Reasons and What to Do About Them
- When Should You Visit the Vet?
- How to Best Take Care of Your Dog’s Ears?
How To Tell If the Dog has Hot Ears?
Before we get into the reasons behind a dog’s hot ears, let us understand how to differentiate between warm – the dog’s usual self and hot ears.
As mentioned above, canines have a higher core body temperature than us humans. Their average core body temperature ranges from 100 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, a human’s average core body temperature is around 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.
So even when you touch your dog’s ears when they are healthy, they will feel warmer compared to you. If you have cold hands due to the weather or a health issue, again, the dog will feel hot to the touch.
So the best way to confirm your suspicion would be to take the dog’s temperature with a rectal thermometer. You can also use an ear thermometer; they are a reliable way of taking your dog’s temperature.
If the thermometer shows a temperature higher than 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit, then your dog’s ears are hot.
If you do not have a thermometer, monitor the dog’s behavior. Dogs with an elevated body temperature often show signs like excessive panting and drooling. In addition, they might look flushed, tired, and drained of energy.
Dogs’ Ears are Hot? – 6 Possible Reasons and What to Do About Them
The reasons for your dog’s hot ears can range from a hot summer day to a serious ear infection. Let us look at the top reasons that can cause your dog’s temperature to rise.
Fever is typically a secondary condition seen in canines. For example, the dogs might run a fever trying to fight off an underlying infection or inflammation.
Common health conditions resulting in fever are bacterial or fungal infection, viral disease, ear infection, dental issues, and UTI.
Ingestion of toxic materials like poisonous plants, human medication, or artificial sweeteners like xylitol can also cause fever.
Apart from the dog having hot ears, a dog with fever can show additional signs like:
Taking your dog’s temperature is the way to go for an accurate fever diagnosis. And using a rectal thermometer is the best means to do that.
The experience can be uncomfortable for the pet, so ensure you lubricate the area well and be gentle when you insert and remove the thermometer.
A dog is said to have a fever when its temperature reads 103 degrees Fahrenheit or more. However, if the temperature reaches 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, drive to an emergency clinic immediately, as the condition can prove to be fatal for dogs.
What to Do?
Only if the dog’s temperature is around 103 degrees Fahrenheit should you attempt to treat the fever at home. Please visit the vet if the temperature is a degree or two higher.
According to AKC, you can bring down the dog’s fever by applying cool water to the dog’s paws and ears. You can use a dog cooling vest or use a soaked towel for application.
Encourage the dog to drink water, so it does not get dehydrated. Monitor the temperature and behavior of your pet to ensure the temperature does not rise again. If the fever returns, consult the vet.
Itchy ears are one of the most common symptoms of allergies. Your dog’s scratching can cause its ears to become red, inflamed, and hot.
Allergy is a reaction of the body’s immune system to the presence of a foreign object called an allergen. Common allergy types are skin, food, and environmental.
If the dog suffers from food allergies, the area often affected on its body are the ears and paws. Some common food allergens include dairy, chicken, soy, and gluten.
Environmental allergens like pollen affect dogs seasonally. So you may find the dog getting itchy or have hot ears only during certain months of the year.
Some other signs of allergies in dogs include:
- Runny nose
- Excessive licking
- Swelling of ears, lips, eyelids
What to Do?
You first need to identify the allergen causing the issue. And this process can be long and complicated.
For example, in the case of food allergens, you will have to put the dog on an elimination diet for 12 weeks. During this period, you will feed the dog only a single source of protein and carbs.
The best way to keep the dog healthy is to keep the allergen away from it. So, if the chicken is an issue, choose a dog food that is chicken-free.
In the case of environmental allergens, it may be difficult to protect the dog at all times. Instead, the vet may prescribe medication that will help manage the allergy symptoms.
3. Heat Stroke
When a dog’s body temperature rises around 103 degrees Fahrenheit, it is said to have a fever. But when the dog’s body temperature crosses the 106 degrees Fahrenheit mark, the dog is said to have a heat stroke.
If the temperature goes beyond 107 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit, the dog is at risk of multiple organ failure with fatal implications.
One of the common causes of heat strokes is leaving the dog in a car with not enough ventilation. Temperatures in the car’s enclosed space can rise quickly, causing the dog’s body temperature to rise as well.
Another cause could be leaving the dog outside on a hot summer day with no access to water or shade. You yourself may have experienced how incredibly exhausting this can be.
Flat-faced dog breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs are at an increased risk of getting a heat stroke.
If the dog is suffering from a heat stroke, along with hot ears, it may show other symptoms like:
- Rapid breathing
- Heavy panting
- Excessive drooling
- Pale, white, or blue gums
- Increased heart rate
What to Do?
In order to treat a heat stroke, you must try to bring the dog’s body temperature down gradually. Do not use cold water, as it can drastically reduce the body temperature, which, again, is not good for the dog.
Carry the dog to a cool, shady, and well-ventilated area. You can spray cool or tepid water on the dog’s body but do not immerse it in a big tub.
Take the dog’s temperature using a rectal or ear thermometer. Please see a vet immediately if the temperature reads above 106 degrees Fahrenheit.
Suppose it is less than 106; try bringing the temperature down to 103 degrees Fahrenheit and stop. Then, call the vet up and discuss the dog’s symptoms.
Some dogs require IV drips, oxygen, and medication after a stroke. The vet can advise on the further course of action.
4. Over Exercising
If you over-exercise your dog, it can go into a state of heat exhaustion. In the case of exhaustion, the dog’s body temperature can rise up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. So, we can consider heat exhaustion a milder form of heat stroke.
The dog will still be able to move about, but you will find it panting, breathing heavily, and looking for water.
All dogs have their recommended exercise routines and limits. For example, Golden Retrievers are a highly energetic dog breed. In general, adult dogs need a quality 90-minute exercise session.
On the other hand, small dogs like Pugs do not require a lot of exercise. A 30-minute exercise session a day should be enough for them.
Then there are other factors like age, health, metabolism, and diet that come into play.
So ensure you are exercising your dog according to its unique requirements. Also, ensure the dog has access to shade and fresh water. Even if the Golden Retriever requires a 90-minute exercise session, do not make it run under the hot sun for the whole duration.
An over-exercised dog can show signs like:
- Hot ears
What to Do?
Suppose the dog is healthy overall, and over-exercising is the only cause of heat exhaustion. In that case, practices like letting the dog rest under a shade, blowing cool air using a fan, spraying tepid water on its body, and giving it fresh water to drink can help.
Suppose the dog shows a reduced tolerance to exercise it was once able to complete. In that case, the issue could be an underlying medical condition. Please contact the vet.
Design an exercise routine according to your pet’s needs. If you have a growing puppy, over-exercising can hurt its bone development. In the case of adult dogs, it can make their muscles sore and stiff, and you will often find them passed out from tiredness.
If unsure, please consult with the vet on a proper diet and exercise plan.
5. Ear Infection
Infection of the external ear canal, known as otitis externa, is common among canines. The two other types of ear infections are media and interna.
According to AKC, 20% of dogs suffer from ear diseases in one ear or both. The condition is more common in dogs with floppy ears, like Cocker Spaniels, Old English Sheepdogs, and Basset Hounds.
A dog’s ear canal is more vertical than a human’s, making it prone to ear infections. Other causes for your dog’s ear infections include moisture retention, allergies, injury, foreign object, wax buildup, auto-immune disorder, and improper grooming.
Canines with ear infections can show signs like:
- Head shaking
When the dog excessively shakes its head or scratches its ears, it can temporarily become hot to the touch.
What to Do?
Once the infection has set in, it would be best to take the dog to the vet. The dog’s ear will be cleaned, and the vet may provide a topical to be applied at home.
In severe cases, the vet may prescribe oral medications to help the healing process.
With treatment, mild cases of ear infections should resolve in a couple of weeks, whereas severe cases can take up to a month.
The best way to deal with ear infections is prevention. So ensure you regularly clean your dog’s ears at home and dry them thoroughly after baths and swims.
Your dog’s ears could be injured due to a recent insect bite, fall, or due to the presence of a foreign object. Or it could be allergies and infections, severely irritating the dog’s ears.
The dog may excessively shake its head or scratch its ears due to persistent itchiness and pain. When this head shaking becomes violent, there is a possibility that the dog is suffering from an ear hematoma.
The dog’s external ear has skin on both sides under which blood vessels run. When the dog reacts to an injury or infection, it could rupture one of the blood vessels and pool the ear flap with blood.
So when you touch a dog’s ears suffering from a hematoma, they will be hot to touch.
What to Do?
Hematomas can be painful for dogs. If left untreated, it can damage the dog’s ear canal and affect its quality of life. You cannot treat the condition at home; you need to contact a vet.
Surgery is an effective way of treating hematomas. However, the techniques today are far less invasive.
Post-surgery you need to ensure the bandaged and stitched site is clean. You need to monitor the site for any adverse changes, discharge, or infection. It may take about a couple of weeks for the ear to heal after surgery.
When Should You Visit the Vet?
As mentioned above, the best way to confirm if your dog’s ears are hot, take its temperature. If your pet’s body temperature is above 103 degrees Fahrenheit, please get in touch with the vet immediately.
If the temperature has reached above 106 degrees Fahrenheit, drive down to the nearest clinic, as the condition can be life-threatening to the pet.
You may try to treat the dog at home when its temperature is around 103 degrees Fahrenheit, but vet care may become necessary if it shows severe symptoms like:
- Extreme vomiting
- Constant scratching
- Yelping in pain
- Extreme lethargy
How to Best Take Care of Your Dog’s Ears?
Keeping your dog’s ears clean is one of the best ways to prevent issues like ear infections. But the trick is knowing when to clean, as over-cleaning can also lead to irritation and infection.
In general, your dog’s ears should be pink and odorless. However, it is time for an ear-cleaning session if you notice the ears are dirty and stinking.
Use a dog-safe ear cleaning solution and cotton ball or gauze for ear cleaning. Avoid using q-tips as they can push dirt deeper into the ear and may even cause trauma. Also, avoid using paper towels as they can leave behind residue.
Always dry your dog’s ears after bath time and swimming sessions. Contact the vet if you suspect the dog has an ear infection or injury.
Dogs’ ears are hot? Confirm the dog’s ears are actually hot by taking its temperature using a rectal or ear thermometer. The dog’s ears are hot if the temperature reads 103 degrees Fahrenheit or above.
Hot ears could be a result of fever, allergy, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, injury, ear infection, and the presence of foreign objects.
You can try to bring the dog’s body temperature down by spraying it with tepid water, letting it rest under a cool and shady area, and encouraging it to have water.
If the dog’s body temperature reaches between 106 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit, please contact the vet immediately, as the condition could prove fatal for the pet.
Heather Abraham is a professional blogger who owns two dogs, a cat, a parrot, and a leopard gecko. She has a connection with animals since she was a child. She shares her love for all pet breeds and provides information on pet food, toys, medications, beds, and everything else.
She is committed to learning about the internal workings of animals. Her work permits her to work closely with knowledgeable vets and obtain practical expertise in animal care. When she is not working, her love of animals continues in her writing. Her goal is to educate and uplift readers who also have a passion for animals through her writing.