Allergies can make dogs miserable just as they do people. Skin rashes, itching, runny eyes, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, paw-licking and ear infections can all be related to allergic reactions. If your dog is constantly at the veterinarian’s office for treatment of ear infections, it’s time to consider whether allergies is the underlying problem. Talk with your vet about the possibility of dog allergies, and find out how to control exposure to the allergen.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergic reactions occur when the immune system recognizes a substance that the body finds toxic. The immune system sends out body chemicals to try to deal with the substance and this may cause allergy symptoms. Many substances can cause allergies, such as dust, mold, dander, tree pollen, cigarette smoke, fleas, flea control products, cleaning products, rubber or plastic materials, insecticides or food products. Any one of these everyday substances can cause a reaction, so you can see why it is often difficult to isolate what is causing the problem.
Because dogs exhibit allergies through their skin and ears, flea allergy is sometimes overlooked as a cause for chronic ear infection. But the immune response to flea bites can affect the entire body of the animal, including its ears, so the possibility of flea allergy should also be considered. Then, the persistent scratching can set up secondary infections that contribute to the ear problem. This can be helped with year-round flea control products on your dog and careful housekeeping practices to make sure fleas are eliminated.
Food allergies can also set up allergic reactions that affect a dog’s ears. Most commercial dog foods, and even homemade dog foods, contain a variety of ingredients, any one of which can be the cause of allergic reactions and ear infections. To find the ingredient that is the culprit, you must put your dog on a diet that contains one protein and one vegetable ingredient and keep the dog on this diet for 12 weeks. If the problem persists, you change one of the ingredients, and continue the pattern until the ear condition improves.
Many environmental allergies can cause ear infections, including various pollens, dust, cleaning products, fabrics and insecticides. Dog owners can try to eliminate each of these agents one by one, or switch to more natural products that are known to be less allergenic.
Treating Ear Infections Caused by Allergies
Veterinarians recommend trying to eliminate offending substances in the environment as much as possible. If they suspect a food allergy, you may need to try out different diets to eliminate foods that cause allergic reactions like chronic ear infections. They may give antibiotics for secondary infections. Antihistamine medications help with inflammation from allergies. Sometimes vets will prescribe steroid medications short term to reduce inflammation and allow healing.