Many dogs bite other dog's ears and the behavior sometimes seems to almost be addicting.
Of course, not all dogs on the receiving end are happy about this behavior.
While it's true that many dogs who bite other dogs' ears are doing so out of fun, it's important to carefully evaluate how the other dog feels about it.
Does the other dog seem fine with it, and keeps on playing with the other dog, or does he seem tense and trying to get away?
This is important information to prevent casual ear biting from turning into a big fight.
Why Do Dogs Bite Other Dog's Ears?
Dog may bite other dogs' ears for a variety of reasons. To gain a deeper insight on the subject it can help to carefully watch the dog's accompanying body language and the context in which the ear biting occurs.
Following are several potential reasons behind dogs biting other dogs' ears.
A Matter of Play
Many dogs who bite other dogs' ears are puppies and young dogs.
These dogs are attracted to ears because they tend to move and are fun to grasp, especially if the dog on the receiving end is blessed with floppy or even pendulous ears.
What to do about it: While this is not a serious problem, you should carefully monitor the dogs to ensure they are both having fun.
Normal and healthy dog play often encompasses bouncy movements, role reversals and meta-signals.
If one dog obsesses about biting the ears, the other dog may be trying to stop it.
A good way to determine whether the dog on the receiving end is enjoying the interaction is to remove him from play and watch whether he shows signs of relief or whether he's eager to return to playing with his pal.
A Mating Behavior
You may sometimes notice intact male dogs bite the ears of female dogs in heat.
This is considered a rather normal, pre-mating or mating behavior.
What to do about it: If you are not planning on breeding your dogs, you should keep them separated until the female's heat cycle is over (it can generally last up to 21 days).
A Grooming Behavior
Dogs can often be seen engaging in grooming behaviors. They use their teeth as combs to remove burrs, matts and parasites from their fur.
It has been found that dogs who are restrained such as in tight cages, have higher parasites loads because they're prevent from grooming themselves.
Sometimes, dogs may take advantage of having other doggy friends and may engage in what is known as "social grooming."
One dog may be therefore gentling nibbling one dog's ears, eyes and mouth area.
"These behaviors are done by individuals closely associated to each other," points out veterinarian Dr. Bonnie Beaver in the book "Canine Behavior: Insights and Answers."
What do about it: pay careful attention if one dog becomes suddenly obsessed about licking/biting your other dog's ear. Chances are, the ear may be producing excessive wax or there may be pus or blood, thus signaling a potential problem.
An Aggressive Behavior
Dogs who bite other dog's ears may be doing so with an intent to harm although not in a seriously damaging or lethal way.
This is because dogs with a real intent to harm often aim to bite in more vulnerable areas such as the base of the skull, over the jugular vein, the legs or even more seriously, the abdomen with the intent to disembowel and cause death in the worst case scenario, explains certified professional dog trainer Sara Reusche on her blog Paw Abilities.
"It’s the difference between a bar-room scuffle and a knife fight in an alley – there may be a broken nose or cracked knuckles in the bar room brawl, but no one’s actively trying to kill their combatant." ~Sara Reusche
What to do about it: after the fight, keep both dogs separated for safety and to allow a cool down period. Consult with a dog trainer/dog behavior professional to take steps to prevent future fights.
The Problem With Ear Injuries
Ear injuries can be a real pain. Ears tend to bleed profusely considering that they are equipped with many blood vessels.
Even the smallest lacerations can therefore bleed for a long time and even the smallest movement can trigger recurrent bleeding with the wound breaking open.
It doesn't certainly help that dogs with injured ears often feel compelled to shaking their head, rubbing them against furniture and pawing at them.
How to Stop a Dog's Ear From Bleeding?
To stop the bleeding, it can help to apply some pressure by placing a bandage on each side of the ear, and holding both sides tightly together for at least 15 minutes, suggests veterinarian Dr. Rebecca.
Ice may also help stop the bleeding by constricting the blood vessels so the area can finally clot. Styptic powder is a valid option too.
A helpful medication that helps stop bleeding is Yunnan Baiyao, a Chinese medication that more and more and more vets keep on hand to reduce surgical bleeding while dog owners rely on it to help dogs with bleeding tumors.
You may want to avoid giving your dog anything with aspirin in it as that can cause the bleeding to get worse, further suggests Dr. Rebecca.
Complications From Bites to a Dog's Ears
Bites to a dog's ears can cause profound wounds that may require treatment and sometimes stitches. Following are some possible complications of bite wounds to a dogs' ears.
Rough play or fights may also lead to dogs with torn ears, and even tips of the ears missing.
In these cases, affected dogs may need to be stitched up and/or put on antibiotics to prevent infection.
As first aid, it would help to disinfect with diluted betadine ( made to match the color of iced tea), suggests veterinarian Dr. Kim Lewis.
If the bite impacts the cartilage that supports the ear and blood and fluid accumulates into the ear flap it can cause what's known as an aural hematoma.
Aural hematomas in dogs are painful. If not treated, over the next 3 to 6 weeks, it can crinkle down into what's known as an unsightly cauliflower ear.
If you want to preserve the architecture and flatness of your dog's ear flap, it would be important seeing the vet quickly for a surgical procedure that will fix this.
When a dog bites another dog's ears causing a puncture wound, this can predispose the affected dog to infection.
What happens is that the puncture holes from the teeth causes bacteria to reach deep under the dog's skin. Because the holes are small, they are quick to scab over, allow bacteria to become trapped inside.
Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments that are not exposed to air, so an infection can quickly set in, explains veterinarian Dr. Fiona.
To prevent a major abscess with swelling, redness and pus any puncture wounds should be therefore treated with antibiotics in a timely manner, ideally within 24 hours of the bite.