dog scratchingIt’s not a coincidence that your dog gets ear infections at the same time each year! It is very likely that your dog is having an allergic reaction to weed pollens that are present in the environment late in the summer.

When an allergic dog contacts the offending pollen, his immune system reacts by releasing histamines and other chemicals into the skin, causing intense itching. Often the itching affects several areas of the body, such as feet, legs, armpits and face. Sometimes the only area affected is the ears. Rubbing at the ears then allows yeast and bacteria (normal residents on the skin of the ear) to proliferate and cause an infection.

The take-away message is that if your dog has recurrent or seasonal ear infections, know that allergies are a likely underlying cause. Recently, the UW-Madison Veterinary School studied dogs that had recurrent yeast ear infections and found that 44% had allergies to grass pollen, and 89% had allergies to tree pollen.

Blood or intra-dermal skin tests are helpful in determining the source of your dog's allergies. Allergy injections and/or oral medications can help reduce allergic itching. Ear cleaners and medications alone will not solve a recurrent ear problem.

Does your dog have ear and allergy issues? Call us at (608) 845-6700 for questions, or to schedule an appointment!

Dr. Barney Smith, DVM, DABVP, has been Chief of Staff at the Animal Hospital of Verona since 2004, and is a Diplomate of the American Board Veterinary Practitioners.