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The Dreaded “Leather Ear”

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It’s known by many names, but Leather Ear can be responsible for hair loss on your Yorkie’s ears, nose, end of tail and hocks. Here’s what you need to know about treating Leather Ear in your Yorkie.

It’s been called Leather Ear, Winter Ear, Slick Ear, English Ear, Black Ear, and probably others. It’s not known how many Yorkies are affected with Leather Ear, but it is a problem many Yorkie owners face. At the outset of Leather Ear, a Yorkie’s ear will start to show black around the edges, which can slowly progress to encompass the entire ear, making it look black and leathery. The hair on the ear will fall off and the ear will look caked with sticky black or dark brown “gunk”. The nose, end of tail, and hocks can also be affected.

What does Leather Ear look like? Here are some pictures:

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It is believed that Leather Ear is caused by a fungus. It tends to more often affect silky coated Yorkies than cotton coated Yorkies, some believe because of the lower skin temperature. It has also been observed to more commonly begin during the winter months.

Leather Ear can be successfully treated. It will take time and consistent effort to get rid of the problem. There are many opinions on the best way to treat Leather Ear, but the basic concept is to thoroughly cleanse the ear and thoroughly dry the ear and treat the fungus on a daily basis for 2 – 3 weeks or until the Leather Ear is cleared.

Cleanse the ear using one of the following methods:

  • Use alcohol on a cotton round to rub both sides of the ear
  • Use a 50/50 mixture of vinegar and peroxide on a cotton round to rub both sides of the ear
  • Spray an anti-septic spray (such as R-7) on the ears and rub with a cotton round

After cleansing, thoroughly dry the ears. These techniques can also be used on the nose and hocks if necessary. If redness or irritation develops, stop treatment and see your vet.

After cleansing, treat the fungus with Lotrimin 1% by rubbing a thin layer onto both sides of the ear (or affected area). Again, if dryness, irritation, or redness develops, see your vet.

Cleanse and every day for 2 – 3 weeks or until the Leather Ear clears.

Preventing Leather Ear should be a consideration for every Yorkie owner. Always keep your Yorkie’s ears clean and dry and keep your Yorkie warm. When bathing, use a high quality Yorkie shampoo and conditioner like Yorkie Splash ans Shine and be sure to rinse thoroughly. After bathing, thoroughly dry the ears; do your best to not let them “air dry”. Use a quality ear cleaner periodically. Check the ears for signs of changes. If you notice signs of Leather Ear, check with your vet. There are other conditions that cause symptoms similar to Leather Ear and require different treatment (hair loss can be caused by a number of factors and black discoloration can have other causes as well).


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