Why Is My Boston Terrier Scratching At Its Ears?

Has your Boston been shaking its head and digging at its ears? Maybe, you have noticed a foul odor or discharge coming from the ear.

Most commonly, itchy ears in Bostons are caused by either ear infections or allergies

Why Is My Boston Terrier Scratching At Its Ears?

This article will explore the various causes of itchy ears in Bostons. Also, we will discuss common treatments for these conditions.

Itchy Ears In Boston Terriers – Causes & Treatments

Itchy ears are one of the most common medical symptoms seen in Boston Terriers. Typically, when a dog scratches at its ears, this is an indicator that there is an underlying condition.

Most causes of itchy ears are easily treatable, but often, the conditions causing itchy ears need to be treated by a veterinarian. 

If your Boston has itchy ears and you are curious as to what could be causing it and how it is treated, this article will review causes and treatments for itchy ears.

The two most common causes for itchy ears in Bostons are allergies and ear infections.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Scratching At Its Ears?

Ear Infections In Boston Terriers

An ear infection, also known as otitis externa, is a very common cause of itchy ears in Bostons. 

Ear infections are caused by the overgrowth of bacterial or fungal organisms in the external ear canal which can be very itchy.

Symptoms Of Boston Terrier Ear Infections

These are the most common symptoms of ear infections in Bostons.

  • Digging At The Ears
  • Rubbing The Ears On The Ground
  • Foul Odor From The Ear
  • Ear Redness Or Swelling
  • Brown Or Yellow Ear Discharge
  • Shaking Of The Head
  • Pain Of The Ears

Diagnosis Of Ear Infections

If you notice any symptoms of an ear infection, it is important to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will examine the inside of your dog’s ear with a scope so they can determine if there are any abnormalities in the ear.

The veterinarian will then take a swab of the affected ear or ears and look at the debris under the microscope. 

Next, the veterinarian will identify if there are bacteria or yeast causing the ear infection so they can prescribe the appropriate medication. 

Treatments For Ear Infections

The most common treatment for ear infections is a medicated ear ointment with a combination of ingredients. Typically, these medications have an antibiotic and an antifungal to treat the underlying infection. The ear medications also usually include a steroid to reduce the irritation within the ear.

In addition, an ear cleaner may be used to help treat ear infections. 

By themselves, ear cleaners are usually not strong enough to treat ear infections. 

However, ear cleaners can be helpful in preventing future infections and cleaning the discharge from the ear to allow ear medications to be more effective.

I typically use the following veterinary ear cleaners in patients with ear infections:

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How Do I Clean Out My Boston’s Ears?

Once your veterinarian has determined the appropriate ear cleaner to use, you will now clean the ears. 

During the treatment of ear infections, I recommend flushing the ears with a veterinary-approved ear cleaner approximately every other day to clear the ear of debris and discharge.

5 Steps To Clean Your Boston Terriers Ears
  1. Start by holding back the ear flap.
  2. Apply a generous amount of veterinary approved ear cleaner into the ear canal.
  3. Rub and massage the base of the ear to ensure the cleaner penetrates deeply into the canal.
  4. Allow your Boston to shake their head.
  5. Gently dry out the external ear canal with a cotton ball or tissue.

Do not stick any Q-tips into the ear as this may damage the eardrum.

How Often Should I Clean My Boston’s Ears?

If your Boston has never had an ear infection and the ears appear free of debris without odor, you probably do not need to clean out the ears regularly.

If your dog has a history of frequent or recurrent ear infections, I recommend cleaning out your Boston’s ears about once every 2 weeks. Be sure to use a veterinary-approved ear cleaner for prevention of future infections.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Scratching At Its Ears?

What Do I Do If My Boston Is Having Recurring Ear Infections?

If your Boston only gets one or two ear infections a year, these can usually be addressed with the treatments described above. 

If your Boston gets recurring ear infections more often than only a few times per year, there is likely an underlying cause for the infections that needs to be addressed.

Three Causes Of Recurring Ear Infections
#1 Water

If your dog is often in the water or gets bathed frequently, moisture in the ears from the water can create an environment ideal for yeast and bacteria growth and can predispose to ear infections. When you are bathing your dog, ensure you are not getting water in the ear. Also, use one of the ear flushes described above to clean out the ears if you think you got water in the ears.

#2 Food Allergies

Food allergies can cause recurrent ear infections. To determine if your dog has food allergies, speak with your veterinarian about trying a special diet trial.

#3 Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergies can also cause recurrent ear infections. Allergies typically need to be treated with a specially formulated dog allergy medication that your veterinarian can prescribe. If your dog is on regular allergy medication, this may reduce the frequency of the ear infections.

Why Is My Boston Terrier Scratching At Its Ears?

Are There Any Effective Home Remedies For Ear Infections?

There are many home treatments and remedies described online for ear infections in dogs. 

Typically, these home treatments are ineffective, sometimes unsafe, and delay getting your Boston the care and treatment that they need to cure the infection.

I highly recommend promptly scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian if you suspect your Boston has an ear infection.

Allergies In Boston Terriers

Allergies can cause ear infections, but also, allergies can cause the ears to be itchy without an ear infection. 

Dogs can be allergic to the pollen in the environment or certain types of ingredients within foods, and this can cause itching of the skin and ears.

Symptoms of Allergies in Boston Terriers

These are the most common signs that your Boston has allergies.

  • Itchy Ears
  • Red Ears
  • Shaking Of The Head
  • Itchy Skin
  • Licking And Biting Of The Paws
  • Itching That Is Worse Seasonally
Why Is My Boston Terrier Scratching At Its Ears?

Diagnosis of Allergies

Your veterinarian will diagnose allergies based on the symptoms that your pet is experiencing and their response to various treatments. 

Veterinarians may consider a special allergy diet food trial to determine if the underlying allergen is a food allergy.

Curios what other Boston owners feed their Bostie? Read this article, Food Needs Of A Boston Terrier.

Treatments For Allergies

There are multiple different medications that your veterinarian may prescribe to your Boston to treat allergies. Some of the most common allergy medications include:


Itchy ears are a nuisance to both you and your Boston.

Typically, if your Boston is scratching at its ears, this is a sign of an ear infection or underlying allergies. If you notice scratching of the ears or other symptoms of ear infections or allergies, I recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian.

Veterinarians can diagnose the cause of the itchy ear and prescribe effective treatments to ensure your Boston feels better as soon as possible.

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Addie Reinhard, DVM

Addie Reinhard, DVM- Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced small animal veterinarian. She is a Boston Terrier lover and always enjoys caring for her Boston patients at the veterinary clinic. She is passionate about providing helpful educational resources to pet parents regarding animal diseases and preventative care. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats.

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