Canine Ear and Skin Infections with Autumn Brady

Autumn Brady is the passionate owner of Autumn's Dog Grooming, a luxury dog grooming salon in Tucson, Arizona. With a background as a veterinary technician and a love for grooming, she established her own grooming business in 2021, operating from the comfort of her home. Offering one-on-one attention to each furry client, Autumn's approach is characterized by a commitment to personalized care.

As a vet tech by trade, Autumn is an expert on the health and well-being of dogs and brings that into her grooming practice, able to identify any abnormal symptoms or signs of infection very easily. In this interview, Autumn shares her insights into the intricacies of canine skin and ear health, drawing from her wealth of experience as both a vet tech and a dedicated groomer. From identifying common skin issues to discussing preventative measures, she provides valuable advice for dog owners looking to maintain their pets' well-being.

What are the different types of skin infections that commonly affect dogs?

Skin infections that affect dogs can be divided into bacterial and fungal infections. Staph and yeast infections are the most commonly found infections in both dogs and cats. 

Some other common skin issues include:

Hot Spots

Hot spots are moist, warm, red, inflamed, itchy and painful patches of skin, typically in one isolated spot. They may be treated at home by shaving the area so that the infection can breathe and spraying it twice a day with something like Gentimicin Spray or Silver Honey Wound Care Spray.

Parasites: Fleas, ticks or mites

Parasites on the skin may cause red, itchy skin and hair loss. Parasite prevention is key to preventing and treating this skin condition. This includes year-round parasite prevention from your veterinarian, regular deworming, regular grooming, and environmental management (proper waste clean-up, yard maintenance, etc.).


Ringworm is a highly contagious fungal infection that causes a round, red, itchy, dry, and scaly patches of skin. Hair loss may also occur. Ringworm may be treated with oral and topical medications. In some cases, you may treat at home with a series of sulfer dips as instructed on the bottle. 

Allergic Dermatitis

Dogs may have allergic reactions to anything—grooming products, their environment, food, etc. These reactions may result in hives, secondary skin infections, and dry skin. If you know what your pup is allergic to, then make sure to avoid those things as much as possible to help prevent skin issues. If you're unaware of your dog's allergies, then it's best to schedule an appointment with your vet for allergy testing. 

ear and skin infections dog

How can dog owners differentiate between a minor skin issue and a more serious infection that requires veterinary attention?

I would consider a “minor” skin issue to be dry patches of skin like dandruff, which can usually be resolved by changing up the dog's grooming routine, the products that are being used, and their diet.

However, if you ever have concerns that your pet may have an infection, you should seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Here are some of the most obvious signs that your dog may have a skin infection:

  • Redness
  • Itchiness
  • Musty odor
  • Flaky, crusty, scaly skin
  • Thickened skin
  • Hyperpigmentation

What are some common allergens or irritants that can lead to skin infections in dogs?

Skin allergies are commonly caused by environmental allergies or food allergies. Environmental allergies are typically seasonal. You may only notice your dog itching during certain times of the year. Common environmental allergies are:

  • Dust
  • Pollen
  • Weeds
  • Grasses
  • Mold
  • Mites

Food allergy symptoms are consistent. Every time the dog consumes food that they are allergic to, the antibodies first react with the antigens, and then you'll start to notice their symptoms. Common food allergies are:

  • Dairy
  • Beef 
  • Chicken
  • Chicken eggs
  • Soy
  • Wheat/gluten

Are certain breeds more prone to ear and skin problems? Why?

Yes. Certain breeds that are more prone to ear and skin problems. Short-haired breeds including Chinese Shar-peis, American Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Pit Bull Terriers and Doberman Pinschers, are some of the most likely to have skin problems. Standard Poodles, Labrador Retrievers and Spaniels may also be prone to ear and skin infections. 

Spaniels are known for getting infections in their lip folds due to their large number of lower lip folds and heavier jowls. Short-haired breeds are prone to skin issues and allergies, which can lead to secondary skin infections. 

Standard Poodles sometimes have a hereditary condition called Granulomatous Sebaceous Adenitis. This condition affects the oil glands and can cause hair loss or secondary skin infections. Labrador Retrievers are known to have allergies for various reasons, including genetic and environmental factors that can also lead to secondary skin infections. 

ear and skin infections dogs

Can you explain the common causes of ear infections in dogs?

There are many different causes of ear infections in dogs. 

1. Ear Canal Structure

Dogs' ear canals go downward and then towards theirs heads in an "L" shape. Due to this, more fluid collects in dogs' ear canals than in humans, making dogs more vulnerable to ear infections.

2. Allergies

Whether seasonal, environmental, or genetic, allergies can cause inflammation of the ear, leading to ear infections.

3. Yeast

One of the more common causes of ear infections is yeast. Yeast is naturally found on dogs' skin; however, trapped water from swimming or bathing our dog can lead to an excess of yeast, which can cause a yeast infection. Dogs that live in humid, rainy environments may experience more frequent yeast infections.

4. Polyps

Ear polyps are a variation of a non-cancerous tumor. They are small, smooth, pink, and inflammatory. They are most common in cats but also appear in the outer or middle ear canal of dogs, where they may block the tube and trap fluids inside. This creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow, which can lead to infection.

5. Ear Mites

Ear Mites are highly contagious and typically found in puppies, kittens, and outdoor cats. Dogs are most commonly infected by direct contact with another infected animal, but they may also pick them up in a wooded or grassy area. 

6. Bacteria

Bacteria thrive in moist environments, just like yeast. In a healthy dog's ear, there is a natural balance of bacteria and yeast. However, this equilibrium can be disrupted, allowing bacteria to overgrow and trigger an ear infection. If it's too moist, bacteria can multiply rapidly and inflame the ear canal tissues. 

7. Foreign Body

A foreign body is any object or debris stuck in the ear canal, creating irritation and infection.


autumns dog grooming

What are the typical signs and symptoms of an ear infection that dog owners should look out for?

There are some physical and behavioral symptoms that dog owners should look out for that may hint that their dog has an ear infection. One of the most common signs is head shaking, ear rubbing or head tilting. Dogs will often scratch at their head and ears, indicating discomfort and itchiness. 

Physically, you may notice redness or swelling in the ear canal, scabs or crusting, excessive ear wax, ear discharge, or odors. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's best to get your dog to the vet.  

Are there any preventative measures dog owners can take to reduce the risk of ear and skin infections?

Owners can reduce the risk of skin and ear infections by routinely grooming their dogs with only dog-approved shampoos and products like Doglyness. Additionally, proper nutrition plays a crucial role in skin and ear health. Make sure to always wipe your dog's paws after walks to keep them clean, and keep their coats dry to prevent excess bacteria and yeast. 

Autumn Brady dog grooming

Are there any misconceptions about canine ear infections you often encounter, and could you clarify them?

There are many myths about canine ear infections. But here are some of the most common ones that I hear from clients:

1. "It's safe to clean your dog's ears with a Q-Tip (cotton buds)"

It is not safe to put Q-Tips into your dog's ear canal. I recommend using cotton balls or cotton rounds, ensuring that the exterior parts of the ear are cleaned only and that they do not enter the ear canal.

2. "Antibiotics are always needed to cure ear infections"

Most uncomplicated ear infections will clear up within 1-2 weeks by routinely cleansing the ears or medicated flushes. Severe symptoms or underlying conditions may lead to chronic ear infections requiring antibiotics or anti-inflammatories that could take longer to resolve. 

3. "Dog ear infections go away on their own"

In most cases, dog ear infections won't go away on their own. Leaving an ear infection untreated allows bacteria or other underlying causes to flourish, potentially leading to a more serious condition. Additionally, they can be quite painful and itchy for dogs, and medication can provide much-needed relief. 

4. "All ear infections are the same so I can use the same medicine as last time"

Several different things can cause ear infections. A veterinarian should examine your dog's ears to see the root cause to ensure you use the right treatment option. Ear infections can be caused by various bacteria and yeast, and the treatment plan and medications will vary depending on the type of infection.

5. "My dog caught an ear infection from another dog"

Ear infections are not contagious to other animals or people. 

Are there any topical products or shampoos that can help manage or prevent skin infections in dogs?

There are a few core products that I recommend to help prevent skin infections. Firstly, I recommend using the Doglyness Immortelle line for dogs with skin issues. The Immortelle shampoo cleanses the skin and coat and rejuvenates each hair follicle. The conditioner strengthens the coat and promotes overall skin and coat health. 

Secondly, I use Silver Honey, which contains Manuka honey and MicroSilver BG. Both of these are natural ingredients that have been proven to fight off 99.9% of infections. Lastly, I highly recommend TrizULTRA + Keto flush, which can be used to prevent and treat mild ear infections. You can also put it on a cotton ball to spot treat your dog's skin. 

You can find Autumn online at Autumn's Dog Grooming. You can also follow her business on Facebook or Instagram.