Ear margin hyperkeratosis in dogs

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Hi Michaela,
my little 1.5-year-old dachshund sweetheart from the premium breeding station has a tiny amount of crustiness and thickness on her ears. Even if it’s barely noticeable I instinctively don’t like it, want to treat it, and ideally get rid of it completely. I took a call to the breeding station and heard that could be an ear margin hyperkeratosis. Going to visit my vet next week but any additional information from your team will be appreciated. Btw, love your balm, keep up the good work!

Dachshund sitting in the front of the mirror with ear margin hyperkeratosis
The ear margin hyperkeratosis/dermatosis or seborrhea points to the same but still relatively uncommon skin condition affecting the edges of the ears in dogs due to keratinization defects.

Identifying the condition accurately may be beyond the capabilities of a regular owner, so the correct and final diagnosis is determined by the veterinarian who rules out other similar conditions with a series of diagnostic tests and by taking the skin sample for further observation.

? Paw pad hyperkeratosis and nasal hyperkeratosis are on the other hand much more common and easier to identify keratinization disorders.

Main signs for the initial identification of ear margin hyperkeratosis in dogs

– There’s usually a crust that’s gray to yellow in color, along with oily stuff and tiny particles that look like they’re from hair follicles, found on the edges and ends of the ears.

– The very advanced and untreated stages may include swelling and cracking of the edges.

– There is no pain or itching associated with it, but the sort of discomfort may be visible by head shaking.

Dachshunds are more prone to ear margin hyperkeratosis

This condition is often seen in certain breeds, and Dachshunds are one of them. Their unique ear structure, which is long and droopy, may also contribute to this condition.

However, the exact cause of why this breed is more susceptible to this condition is not fully understood and is likely a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Other breeds with similar ear structures:

  • Cocker spaniels
  • Springer spaniels
  • Great danes
  • Basset hounds
  • Yorkshire terriers
  • Chihuahuas


Treatment options

There is no cure for ear margin hyperkeratosis and that also includes early stages when the symptoms are barely noticeable. A quick and proper diagnosis is the key and provides the opportunity to treat the underlying causes that may contribute to hyperkeratosis, but in most cases, the underlying causes don’t exist and the only option is to manage the symptoms.

Your veterinarian will be able to determine the severity of the problem and prescribe anything from medical shampoos, topical treatments, moisturizers, or even oral antibiotics for treating secondary bacterial infections.

Remember that ear margin hyperkeratosis is not painful and proper treatment can rapidly and for long-term decrease the number of symptoms.