Black Gunk Inside Your Dog’s Ear? What It Is & What To Do! (2024)

A Golden Retriever with on ear exposed to show dirty, black buildup.

Seeing black gunk, crud, or discharge coming from your dog’s ears can be alarming. Black ear gunk may be a sign of wax or debris buildup, or it could be a sign of an infection.

It’s best to clean your dog’s ears properly and regularly and take him or her to routine veterinary appointments to rule out any serious ear disorders or diseases.

What is the black gunk inside my dog’s ear? Black gunk in a dog’s ear is often a sign of an ear mite infestation, but it could also indicate an ear infection. Other possibilities include wax buildup, complications from allergies, dirt or debris, or a flea infestation. Clean the ears routinely and be sure any problems are examined by a vet.

If you notice there is a black discharge coming from your dog’s ears or if you can see black gunk when you look inside your dog’s ears, read on to learn how to deal with the problem. 

Black Ear Gunk in Dogs – What It Indicates

Black gunk in a dog’s ear most often indicates an ear mite infestation, though it could be an indication of several other things. 

Ear Infection

If your dog has an ear infection that has gone untreated, he could be scratching its ears, which can lead to bleeding. Blood in the ears can sometimes look like dark black gunk.

Other Possible Conditions

There are several things that can cause a buildup of black gunk in your dog’s ears. Ear mites and ear infections are the most common, but other possible conditions include:

  • Wax buildup
  • Allergies
  • Debris
  • Mud
  • Flea infestations

How Do You Get Black Gunk Out of a Dog’s Ear?

You can remove the black gunk from your dog’s ears on your own, but you may want to ask your veterinarian to diagnose the cause of the gunk and provide a cleaning solution.

If your dog has ear mites, a specific solution may be needed. Follow these steps to remove the gunk. 

  1. Tilt the dog’s head down so the ear you are treating is facing up. 
  2. Apply the solution to the ear canal.
  3. Hold the ear shut, and massage it gently to move the fluid around inside the ear and loosen up any debris or gunk. 
  4. Place a towel on the dog’s ear and tilt his head the opposite way to allow the solution to drain out into the towel. 
  5. Check the ear to ensure the gunk is gone. You can use a cotton swab to clean around the edge of the ears, but do not insert anything into the ear canal. 
  6. Repeat on the other ear.

A woman placing ear drops in the ear of her black dog.

When To Take Your Dog to the Vet

While you may be able to remove black gunk from your dog’s ears on your own, there are some times when you should take your dog to the veterinarian.

If you believe the gunk could be caused by ear mites or an ear infection, your dog may require a prescription cleaning solution or an antibiotic.

If your dog has a chronic case of gunk in his ears, you may also want a veterinarian to take a look and determine the cause of it.

How To Avoid Debris Buildup in Dog Ears

The best way to avoid debris buildup in dog ears is to clean the ears often. Some dogs require more regular ear cleaning than others.

If your dog has floppy ears that trap moisture and heat in the ear or if he spends a lot of time outside or is a working dog, he may need to have his ears cleaned weekly.

Dogs that spend most of their time inside may only need to have their ears cleaned once or twice a month.

Using an effective and safe ear cleaning solution routinely is the best way to keep your dog’s ears clean.

Best Ear Cleaning Solution for Dogs: Epiotic Advanced

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser for Dogs &...
  • Non-irritating solution
  • Use during routine cleansing of sensitive ears

Epiotic Advanced is one of the top ear cleaning solutions for dogs. It is recommended by veterinarians and is safe to use on all dog breeds.

It removes debris and wax from the ear canal and helps keep the ears dry to avoid infections.

It is powerful enough to remove thick gunk and debris but gentle enough that it won’t irritate the ears. It is even safe to use on dogs with sensitive ears and allergies.

Dog Ear Infection Symptoms

If you think your dog could have an ear infection, look for some of these symptoms.

  • Pawing at ears or head
  • Head shaking
  • Black or green gunk or discharge
  • Pain
  • Itchiness
  • Odor
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Redness 

Common Causes of Dog Ear Infection

Dog infections are common, and while they can’t be avoided completely, understanding the most common causes can help you lower your dog’s risk of infection. 

  • Allergies
  • Moisture
  • Debris
  • Wax Buildup
  • Injury
  • Too much cleaning
  • Thyroid disease

Natural Remedies for Dog Ear Infection

If you prefer to treat your dog’s ear infection with a natural remedy, you may want to consider some of these options.

Keep in mind some ear infections require antibiotics for successful treatment.

  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Witch Hazel
  • Peroxide
  • Tea Tree Oil (diluted with carrier oil)
  • Coconut Oil

Related Questions: 

What Color Should Dog Ear Wax Be?

Dog ear wax should range from a light yellow color to a light brown color. If your dog’s ear wax appears to be black, red, or dark brown, it could be a sign of infection or ear mites.

Why Are My Dog’s Ears Always Dirty?

If your dog’s ears appear to be dirty often, it could be due to ear mites, their outside activities, an ear infection, or allergies.

Cleaning the ears too often can sometimes lead to infections and make the buildup worse.

If you think your dog’s ears are excessively dirty, you may want to talk with a veterinarian to get a proper diagnosis. 


Cleaning your dog’s ears should be a part of his regular hygiene routine. Most dogs only need to have their ears cleaned about twice a month.

If you notice a buildup of black gunk, it could be a sign that your dog has an ear problem that needs to be diagnosed or treated with antibiotics.

Proper cleaning can help reduce ear buildup and reduce the risk of infection.

Last update on 2024-06-12 at 17:12 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API