Ear Edge Necrosis In Dogs: 2 Causes, Symptoms And 3 Tips

Canine ear necrosis is a long-term condition that needs to be treated. A wound on your dog’s ear gets so bad that the tissue there dies.

You can also find the clinical picture of ear edge necrosis under the name bloody ear edges in dogs.

In this article you will find out what causes ear rim necrosis to develop in dogs and what you can do to prevent it.

In a nutshell: What is ear rim necrosis?

In the case of ear necrosis in dogs, cells die due to a lack of oxygen. Such necrosis is caused by a disorder in the immune system or a poorly healing or even infected wound.

Since a healing wound will cause your dog to itch, he will keep scratching and tearing the wound open. You should prevent this and at the same time support the wound healing.

2 causes of ear edge necrosis

Ear edge necrosis is caused by disturbed or reduced blood flow to the edge of the ear. As a result, the oxygen supply to the cells suffers. If this lasts too long or is completely prevented, the cells die irrevocably.

This death is called necrosis. After some time, the cells turn black.

1. Immune-mediated ear rim necrosis

Ear edge necrosis in dogs is usually the result of so-called immune-mediated changes in the blood vessels.

Immune-mediated means that the immune system mistakenly sees the body’s own cells as foreign cells and attacks them. It is still unknown how these immune-mediated changes occur.

However, dogs with short fur and thin ear hair, such as Dobermann, Viszla, Pinscher or Weimeraner, are affected more often than average.

2. Ear edge necrosis due to impaired wound healing

The second common cause of ear necrosis in dogs is wounds on the ear that do not heal or only heal poorly. They form tumor-like, itchy thickenings on the edge of the ear.

If your dog scratches its ears or shakes its head because of this, these bumps will repeatedly tear open and enlarge the original wound.

Even an infected wound, for example after a bite or after scratching, quickly becomes necrotic if left untreated.

Symptoms and treatment

You should always monitor ear wounds carefully and keep an eye on their healing process. If a wound is clearly not healing properly or is showing signs of infection, you should always consult your veterinarian.

Only your vet can diagnose an immune-mediated disease. The practice then takes a tissue sample and has it analyzed. If the suspicion is confirmed, you discuss further treatment.

What helps with ear necrosis in dogs? 3 tips

You prevent the formation of ear necrosis in your dog by supporting and promoting its wound healing. At the same time, you need to protect the wound from infection and constant scratching.

1. Protect ears from scratching

The scratching and shaking of the head tears the wound open again and again. Wear ear protection made of fabric or a neck brace to prevent scratching. However, both are not tolerated by every dog, so you should try that first.

2. Support wound healing

Anti-inflammatory ointments soothe the skin, reduce inflammation and can protect against new infections. However, they should only be applied thinly. You also have to make sure that your dog cannot ingest them by scratching or licking them.

Gel patches from human medicine are a good remedy for deeper wounds. They remain on the wound for up to a week and are not easily scraped off. But before you stick it on, the wound has to be clean and dry.

3. Veterinary Measures

For an immune-mediated disease, a blood flow-enhancing drug can sometimes be sufficient. Your veterinary practice will prescribe this individually tailored to your dog.

If the ear edge necrosis in the dog is already very advanced, unfortunately only surgical removal of the dead tissue can help. Otherwise there is a risk of the condition spreading and getting worse.

How can ear rim necrosis be prevented?

The risk of ear edge necrosis drops drastically the earlier a wound is discovered and treated. That’s why you should not only take your dog to a regular vet check-up, but also examine it yourself once a week.

If your dog is breed-typically at risk of ear necrosis, minor ear wounds should not be taken lightly. With a thin application of marigold ointment you can already support the healing here.


Ear edge necrosis in dogs must not go untreated. It is best to support wounds early in their healing process to prevent necrotizing.

Your veterinarian can also counteract an immune disease and thus reduce the risk of ear edge necrosis.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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