Dog Allergies & Ear Scratching

Labrador retrievers are prone to developing allergies and ear infections.
Labrador retrievers are prone to developing allergies and ear infections. (Image: labrador dog image by muro from <a href=''></a>)

If your dog constantly scratches its ears, allergies may be to blame. Ear scratching is a common sign of ear infections, and recurrent ear infections are one of the most common symptoms of allergies. Veterinarians often become suspicious of the presence of allergies when a dog is constantly affected by ear problems.


According to the Doctors Foster and Smith website, ear infections are often a direct result of allergies. When a dog’s body detects an allergen, it produces histamines in an effort to defend itself. Furthermore, if the dog ingests something to which it is allergic, such as beef or chicken, its body will attempt to prevent the allergenic response. Doing so often causes the ear to produce too much wax, which is an invitation for bacteria to grow. An overabundance of bacteria will often cause an infection.


When a dog has an ear infection, it may exhibit peculiar behavior. For instance, it may rub its head along the floor or on furniture. In addition, the ear may become very tender, red and even swollen, states the Organic Pet Digest website. The ear will likely have a dark discharge and perhaps a foul smell. The dog might scratch at its ear and shake its head excessively, as well. The dog may also display other symptoms of allergies, including chewing its feet and scratching its body.


Often times, a veterinarian will base his diagnosis of allergies causing the ear infection from his findings on the examination. If a dog has chronic infections that are accompanied by other symptoms that are common with allergies, the veterinarian will likely diagnose the ear infection as allergy-related. The vet can also perform allergy testing, in which blood is drawn and sent to a lab to determine if allergies are indeed the cause for the dog’s problems.


Dogs that experience ear infections caused by allergies must receive treatment for both the infection and the allergy, states the Doctors Foster and Smith website. Ear cleaners and medication are often enough to eliminate the infection, whereas the allergies usually require antihistamines, fatty acid supplements and sometimes, steroids.


Allergy-related ear infections can be prevented with routine ear cleanings. In addition, keeping the dog on antihistamines will also prevent the ear from producing too much wax. Keeping the dog away from its allergens may also prevent the symptoms from returning. For instance, if your dog is allergic to beef, feeding it a beef-free food will likely keep the infections at bay.

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