Why Are My Dog’s Ears Hot?

It can be an unsettling feeling when you pet your dog and notice that its ears are hot. Wondering “why are my dog’s ears hot” is a perfectly reasonable reaction. Who wouldn’t want their pup to feel healthy?

There are several reasons why a dog’s ears are hot. It could be due to exercise or the weather, like a hot summer day. Sometimes, it’s due to an injury that may have harmed their ear. In serious cases, it could indicate that they’re sick.

Dog has hot ears!
Dog has hot ears!

Let’s go through the primary reasons why your dog’s ears are hot. After that, we’ll go through some of the ways to determine whether your dog is just warm or in danger of being too hot.

Exercise Causes Hot Ears

two ibizan hounds
Two Ibizan hounds – tall and skinny dogs!

Taking your dog on extended walks or jogs can cause their internal temperature to increase. Just like people get hot when they exercise, dogs do, too! Exercise gets your dog’s blood pumping, causing an increase in body temperature.

One way to determine that your dog’s ears are hot from exercise is by their energy levels. Sick dogs generally don’t have any energy to play or exercise. That means if you notice your dog’s ears are hot after playing fetch for an hour, it’s likely due to the exercise and not something more serious.

Once your dog is indoors or goes into another cool area, its body temperature should begin to reduce. Provide them plenty of water because they may be thirsty after some intense playtime. 

Heat Causes Hot Dog Ears

standard labradoodle wavy brown coat
The golden brown coat of a tan Labradoodle enjoying the beach

Your dog’s fur is both a blessing and a curse, especially if you have a dog with long furs, like a Golden Retriever. Your dog’s fur helps keep heat trapped in the winter, but it can do the same in the summer. All that heat can cause a heat stroke

The most common cause of heatstroke in dogs is when their owner leaves them in a hot car. Heatstrokes can happen in other ways, though. They could get it by spending too much time in direct sun or if the humidity is too high. 

Dogs primarily release heat from their body by panting. When panting doesn’t regulate their temperature, their body temperature increases dramatically.

The most obvious sign of overheating is excess panting and drooling. If you notice your dog is panting much more than usual, bring them to a cool place like an air-conditioned room. Provide them plenty of water. Place a cold compress on their neck and behind their ears. If their hot ears persist for more than a few minutes, take them to a veterinarian.

Injury Causes Hot Dog Ears

chocolate goldendoodle in dog park
A Chocolate Goldendoodle in a dog park (Parti with white face)

If your dog has recently had an injury to its head or ears, it could be the reason its ears are hot. Common ear injuries are usually caused by:

  • Excess head shaking
  • Itchiness
  • Bug bites/stings
  • Ear infections

When your dog injures their ear, it commonly causes the blood vessels in their ears to swell. In severe cases, the ear injury will cause a blood vessel to rupture in their ear, which will cause the entire ear to swell.

When parts of your dog’s body have excess blood flow caused by swelling, that part of their body will feel warm. So, if you’re petting your dog and notice their ear feels warm, look at it. If it looks and feels swollen, your dog’s hot ear could be caused by an injury. 

Ear injuries can be caused by ear infections. In serious cases, a ruptured or swollen blood vessel can get infected. It may always be best to err on the side of caution and take your dog to the veterinarian for testing and a diagnosis. 

Illness Causing Hot Dog Ears

bolognese dog breed
The Bolognese dog breed – you read that right! Small and playful.

The most serious reason why your dog’s ear is hot is because of an illness. Some illnesses, like viruses, will cause your dog to have a fever. Others, like ear infections, will cause their ear to become inflamed and swollen because of the infection.

No matter the cause, if you suspect your dog’s ear is hot because of an illness, you need to visit a veterinarian. They’ll prescribe the appropriate medication to help alleviate any symptoms your dog may be experiencing. 

If you suspect your dog has a fever, give them cool water before taking them to a vet. The cold water will help make your dog feel better, even if it doesn’t get rid of the fever.

The common signs of an ear infection include increased head-scratching, redness/swelling in the ear, and pain upon touch. If your dog is showing these symptoms, take them to the vet immediately. 

why are my dog's ears hot?
Why are my dog’s ears hot? Is it normal? [5 Reasons]

How to Tell Between a Warm Ear and a Hot Ear

Some people may not be able to tell the difference between an ear that’s warm from the weather or moderate exercise or a dangerously hot ear. Sometimes, their fur can get in the way of accurately gauging their temperature.

Dog’s have a normal body temperature of between 99 and 102ºF. The only accurate way to gauge their temperature is with a rectal thermometer, but a good digital thermometer will work on their ears. Take the temperature of their ears. If it’s above 102ºF, their ears are hot.

If you don’t have a thermometer, try to monitor their behavior. A hot dog will pant and drool more than average, while a sick dog will be much more lethargic. If you sense their ears are hot, and they have these symptoms, something may be wrong.

Poodles and Poodles mixes like Labradoodles and Goldendoodle have narrow ear canals, and are prone to bacterial infection. You will need to groom and clean their ears.

rich dog wears necklace
Dog wears a pearl necklace and looks fancy!

Hot Dog Ear FAQs

Are dogs’ ears supposed to be warm?

Dogs’ ears can naturally feel warm to the touch due to their body heat. The warmth can be attributed to the blood flow to the ears. However, the temperature of a dog’s ears can fluctuate based on various factors, such as ambient temperature, recent activity, or even their emotional state. It’s important to note that while warm ears can be perfectly normal, excessively hot or red ears might indicate an underlying issue.

Why do my dog’s ears get hot at night?

Several reasons might cause your dog’s ears to feel warmer at night:

  1. Increased Room Temperature: The ambient temperature might be warmer during the evening, especially if heating is turned on.
  2. Activity Level: If your dog has been active or playing just before bedtime, the increased blood flow can lead to warmer ears.
  3. Emotions: Stress, excitement, or anxiety can cause an increase in body temperature and hence warmer ears.
  4. Bedding: If your dog is bundled up or lying in a warm bed, their body heat can cause their ears to warm up more than usual.

However, if the ears are consistently hot and are accompanied by other symptoms like redness, swelling, or discharge, it could indicate an infection or another medical issue.

dog wears goggles on bike basket
A dog wears goggles on a hot air balloon festival!

Dog’s ears are hot but no fever. What could this mean?

If your dog’s ears feel hot but they don’t have a fever, it can be due to:

  1. Recent Activity: Physical exertion can lead to increased blood flow, causing the ears to feel warm.
  2. Environmental Factors: Warm weather or a hot indoor environment can make a dog’s ears feel warmer.
  3. Emotional Responses: Anxiety, excitement, or stress can result in warmer ears.
  4. Inflammation: While not necessarily related to an overall body fever, local inflammations or infections (like otitis) can cause the ears to feel warm or even hot.

It’s always a good practice to monitor for other signs of discomfort or any changes in behavior. If the warm ears persist or if there are other concerning symptoms, consult a veterinarian.

What does it mean when a dog’s nose and ears are warm?

A warm nose and ears on a dog can be quite normal. Contrary to popular belief, a warm or dry nose doesn’t necessarily indicate illness. Similarly, warm ears are also not a definitive sign of sickness. Potential reasons include:

  1. Environment: If it’s a warm day or if your dog has been lying in the sun, their nose and ears might feel warm.
  2. Physical Activity: After exercise or play, a dog’s body temperature can rise, causing the nose and ears to feel warm.
  3. Relaxed State: When dogs are relaxed or sleeping, their nose might be less moist and therefore feel warmer to the touch.
  4. Emotions: A stressed or anxious dog might have a warmer nose and ears.

However, if the warmth in the nose and ears is accompanied by other symptoms like lethargy, lack of appetite, discharge from the nose or ears, or any behavioral changes, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian to rule out potential health issues.

Always remember, while it’s beneficial to be observant and aware of changes in your dog, it’s also crucial to consult with a professional if you’re ever unsure about their health or well-being.

Yorkie wears a harness and leash
The Yorkie wears a red harness and leash.

Wrapping Up

If your dog has hot ears, don’t stress too much. Watch your dog for any changes in their behavior that may indicate they’re sick or have exerted too much energy in their exercise. That way, you’ll be able to know whether their hot ears are because they are ill or have over-exerted themselves.

It can be unsettling to discover that your pup is sick. But just remember, if you ever wonder “why are my dog’s ears hot,” it’s likely due to heat or exercise more than anything serious.

If you suspect that your dog’s hot ears may be caused by a more serious event, like an injury or illness, we advise you to take them to a vet as soon as possible. That way, they’ll get the proper treatment and get back to being the best family member that they can be!