How Do Allergies Cause Ear Infections In Dogs
Allergies cause the skin barrier to break down and increase the wax production in the ear canal. This allows the low number of normal yeast and bacteria on the skin and in the ear to overproduce and allow more severe strains of bacteria to thrive. This leads to increased inflammation, pain, and discharge from the ear.
Dogs with seasonal allergies tend to get ear infections around the same season each year. Dogs with food allergies or non-seasonal environmental allergies may have ear infections recurring throughout the year.
Since dogs with allergic otitis will have repeated ear infections, this chronic inflammation can cause the ear canal tissue to scar, become calcified, and reduce the opening of the ear canals. This makes treatment even harder as the medication has a hard time reaching the deeper ear canal regions.
Why Does My Dog Keep Getting Ear Infections
You should take it very seriously if your dog repeatedly contracts ear infections. There are many reasons for this. The most common reasons are environmental and food-related allergies. If you fail to keep a check on your dogs ear health or provide the right food, your dog may remain vulnerable to allergies and infections.
Treatment Of Ear Infections
In general, uncomplicated ear infections with fever less than 102 degrees Fahrenheit will resolve on their own. Pain can be relieved with over-the-counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If you or your child are having frequent ear infections, your healthcare provider may recommend the surgical placement of ventilation tubes to help your Eustachian tube stay open.
Minovi A, Dazert S. Diseases of the middle ear in childhood. GMS Curr Top Otorhinolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014 13:Doc11. Published 2014 Dec 1. doi:10.3205/cto000114
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How To Prevent Ear Infections
Avoid the common cold: Its easier said than done but its important to avoid being in contact with viruses that can cause flu symptoms.
Avoid being around secondhand smoke: If someone you know is a smoker, let them know to take it outside and away from you and your children.
Try breastfeeding: Breastfeeding may not always be possible but if it can be done, it is highly recommended. When it comes to breastfeeding, the mother has more control over the direction the baby faces when feeding. If you are bottle-feeding keep your baby in an upright position.
Vaccinate: Flu shots can help prevent the flu that can cause ear infections. Shots like the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine helped decrease the number of ear infections seen in children under the age of 3 by 34%.
How Allergies Contribute To Ear Infections
Most middle ear infections occur after you come down with a viral infection, like a cold. This is because the Eustachian tubes become inflamed, along with your nasal passageways and sinuses. The Eustachian tubes connect the middle ears to the back of the throat to allow fluid to drain and air pressure to equalize. Inflammation can cause the tubes to become blocked.
The same thing happens for people with allergies when theyre experiencing symptoms: inflammation of the Eustachian tubes causes fluid to become trapped in the middle ear, leading to an infection. This can even happen during a food allergy response.
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Q: What Causes Ear Infections In Dogs
Dr. Cathy: The short answer is bacteria or yeast . However, that answer does not explain the real issues.
For most dogs, ear infections come from food allergies. Allergies to food cause inflammation in the intestines, which leads to bacterial and/or yeast overgrowth in the intestines, which then spreads to the whole body, including the ears.
Therefore, the first time a dog has an ear infection, a question should already start to form: I wonder if shes allergic to something in her food? If she gets another ear infection, the vet must start looking for the source.
Really curing the problem means first treating the symptoms, second figuring out what your dog is allergic to and getting rid of it, and third treating the systemic problems resulting from the food allergy, which is very often whole body yeast infections.
Ear mites could be causing your dog’s ear infection.
Q: Are There Ways To Prevent Ear Infections
Dr. Cathy: Yes, start with great nutrition from puppyhood . While my preference is to feed balanced real food, it can be a challenge to provide enough calories and calcium for the growing dog. Raw or cooked foods work great for some families and are the only way to guarantee you know what is truly in your dogs food.
However, there are some very good, commercially prepared, premium diets with named meats as the primary source of nutrition, and these foods do not contain dyes, corn, or by-products.
For some dogs, it is this simple. Some dogs need a grain-free diet to prevent ear infections. Some dogs need to avoid chicken or beef, potatoes, lamb, or rice, and so on.
If you start with great food as soon as you can, your dogs risk of ear infections will be less. But, if the ear infections still come, follow the tips above to get to the root of your dogs problems. Ear infections can be beaten.
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One: Choose A Commercial Or Home
This decision will depend on whether you have the time, energy and finances to prepare a home prepared diet or if you will need the convenience of a commercial hydrolysis diet.
Of course a home-prepared diet of fresh, whole foods will always be preferable as they will naturally contain a higher quality of nutrients than a commercially prepared product.However, it is more important to set yourself up for success by choosing whatever is going to be feasible for you and your pet to comply with.
So really, the best diet is going to be the one you can reliably stick to for 5-9 weeks.
I know for myself that some days or weeks I barely have time to prepare food for myself, so no judgement at all if it is simply not feasible for you to be home preparing food for your fur child as well as the rest of your family.
Or if youre a vegan and cannot bear the thought of handling meat, then this is totally understandable also. I personally feel so sad every time I handle certain types of meat and meat products, everyone is different in what they can cope with!
Downfalls of commercial hydrolysis products
These products are made by breaking down the parent protein into the individual amino acids which, in most cases, do not trigger the immune system as the parent protein would.
However, depending on nature of the hydrolysis, there are still some dogs and cats that will continue to react.
The Causes Of Garys Inflammation
After a thorough discussion of Garys medical history, I examined the inside of his nose. His nasal mucosa was pale, almost bluish, and swollen shut, so he had to breathe through his mouth.
Environmental allergies often cause the nasal mucosa to be pale and swollen. When I was first out of residency, I used medications to treat the symptoms of patients like Gary. I would have prescribed an inhaled steroid for him, along with an antihistamine for allergies, a topical steroid for the eczema, and a nasal steroid spray for the nasal congestion. This would have addressed most of his inflammatory symptoms during the time of year when his allergies and asthma flared. On top of that, if he had constipation, I would have also given him a laxative.
When I know a child has an increased risk of asthma or any other type of inflammatory issue like allergies, constipation, or reflux, I now look at the bigger picture and ask, How can I reduce this childs overall systemic inflammation and improve all of his symptoms, not just one of them?
As luck would have it, Garys previous pediatrician had done allergy testing through blood work and discovered a severe dust mite allergy. My first question when a child has a dust mite allergy is: How old are his mattress and pillows?
Mattresses and pillows are dust mite havens. One study, conducted at a London hospital, found that up to a third of a pillows weight could comprise bugs, dead skin, and dust mites.
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Diagnosis Of Ear Infection Due To Allergies In Dogs
If you are concerned about your dog due to excessive scratching of his ear, or wonder why there is vocalization of discomfort when he does, contact your veterinarian for an appointment. Stopping an ear infection from progressing to the middle or inner ear is important as serious consequences like rupture of the eardrum or thickening of the ear canal may occur.
The veterinarian will begin the examination with a complete physical and will ask for a history of your pets recent illnesses to date, travel of late, and any dietary changes that have been made in the past few months. The veterinarian will look over your dogs body, examining the skin for irritation and redness.
The ear examination, using an otoscope, may require your pet to be sedated if the ears are particularly sensitive or sore. The veterinary team will want to avoid injury to the ear, making anesthesia a necessity. One benefit of the sedation is that the veterinarian may be able to clean your dogs ears at the same time as the examination.
A sample of the contents of your canine companions ear will be examined under the microscope to check for bacteria, yeast, or mites. In addition, a culture may be done which may further indicate the reason for the problem. In some cases, the veterinarian will want to order blood tests to rule out underlying illnesses that may cause ear infections, such as hormone imbalances and thyroid issues.
Food Allergies Versus Food Sensitivities
Lets talk about some more common childhood illnesses. Food allergy tests look for allergens that can trigger a powerful, profound, and fast inflammatory response and can lead to hives, lip swelling, coughing, wheezing, vomiting, and trouble breathing. True food allergies are serious and can be life-threatening. The reaction typically occurs within 15-30 minutes of exposure, or it can be delayed up to 12 hours.
In conventional pediatrics, if we suspect a child has a food allergy, we order skin prick testing or blood work looking for an elevated IgE protein to the particular food in question. If the allergy test is negative, the patient is told to continue eating the food.
Many times over the years, in my initial consultation with a patient, the parents will say, Oh, shes already had food allergy testing. Shes not allergic to any foods. Unfortunately, a negative outcome on an allergy test doesnt mean the childs diet isnt creating inflammation. Thats where an understanding of food sensitivities comes into play. Garys case will help us understand more about food sensitivities.
The complexity of testing for food reactions led me to write an entire chapter in my book on the topic. You can download the reference table I created to help illustrate the different ways we can test for food reactions. There is so much misunderstanding about this for patients and physicians.
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Treating The Cause Of Allergy
To determine if your chronic ear infections are related to allergy, an allergy test should be completed first to determine which allergens are problematic. A variety of seasonal and year-round allergens could be the cause: trees, grass, ragweed, dust mites, and pet dander, for example.
After determining whats causing your symptoms, there are a few options for managing your allergies.
Antihistamines and other control measures can be used to help your body not react to allergens temporarily. Each season, these measures will be needed to control allergies, the associated inflammation and ultimately, pre-empt ear infections.
Your provider may also recommend allergy immunotherapy, which treats the cause of underlying allergies. Over time, immunotherapy teaches your body not to react and create inflammation when exposed to your problem allergens. Sublingual immunotherapy, or allergy drops, are one option that more patients are finding to be a convenient, safe and effective way to treat the cause, typically within three to five years. By getting to the root cause, overall inflammation, as well as inflammation flare-ups after allergy exposure, are reduced and ear infections tend to subside.
What To Do If You Think Your Dog Has An Ear Infection
You have recently noticed your usually happy-go-lucky dog has started shaking his head, scratching at his ears or moaning with pain. Your first thought might be an ear infection, and you could be right.
However, only the vet can tell you if that ear infection is a sign of something hiddensuch as food allergiesgoing on with your dog’s health.
Dr. Cathy Alinovi, pet parent and veterinarian, discusses the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments for ear infections as well as why it is important to determine the root cause of the infection.
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Cooking Our Way To A Healthier Dog Diet
Ever since I started raising my own dogs, Id always wanted to make their food at home but thought it would be too expensive or too time consuming, or that they wouldnt get the nutrition they needed.
During the month of Bugs doggy depression, I vowed to make her precious life as comfortable as possible.
Both of my pugs had a range of health issues growing up, which I unfortunately found out were common for the breed.
My older one had persistent hot spots and itchiness that no commercial dog food could cure .
Bug was overweight for a while when she was younger, even though she ate the recommended amount of food for her target weight. Eventually, I settled on Wellness kibbles and they did well with that brand.
But, I wanted to explore other options. I wanted to give them real food fresh, nutritious ingredients that I recognized and could even eat myself.
Ive mentioned in my post on homemade whole grain chicken feed that the entire household all share the same whole grains and seeds that we buy in bulk, as well as the bounty that comes from our edible garden.
Everything our animals eat, we can eat.
When it comes to homemade feed for our laying hens, we stick to a tried-and-true formula that works for every layer: 16 to 17 percent protein , vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from a wide variety of grains and seeds, and free range of a pasture for weeds, greens, and insects.
Dogs, on the other hand, arent bred for a standard function the way chickens are.
How Allergies Cause Ear Pain
When a person is near something they are allergic to, the allergen binds to their allergic antibodies that are bound to mast cells or basophils. This process results in the release of histamines. Histamines are compounds that play a role in the bodys immune response. They trigger an inflammatory response.
Nasal allergies, specifically, are to blame when it comes to ear pain. This is because the inflammation that occurs in the mucous membranes that line the nasal and ear cavities can cause a blockage in the ear. When fluid cannot drain away because of that blockage, it builds up and causes pressure and pain.
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Will Allergy Medicine Help
Over-the-counter allergy medications can help take care of multiple symptoms, including any allergic reactions in the ear. Antihistamines and decongestants can reduce the feeling of fullness in the ear.
Other treatments that may help with allergic reactions in the ear include a warm compress, such as a washcloth placed on the ear or prescription eardrops. Pain medication also may help an earache.
If you have an infection, your health care provider can prescribe an antibiotic.
If pressure in the ear doesnt go away or becomes painful, its important to see a hearing care provider right away.
Why Do You Have An Allergic Reaction
When a foreign substance, such as pollen. causes hypersensitivity, your immune system responds by producing antibodies that release histamine. Histamines cause itching, mucus and sometimes swelling. Allergies can occur year-round, but for many people pollen and grass allergies are more likely to occur in the spring or fall.
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How Does My Vet Know If My Dog Has An Ear Infection Related To Allergies
A good physical exam and exam down into the ear canals is the first step. The next step is usually cytology, evaluation under the microscope, of the material in the ear to look for yeast and bacteria.
Based on these results, an initial ear medication can be started. Treatment is typically recommended to last for 2-3 weeks, then the ears must be rechecked to ensure the infection has fully resolved. If the infection is still present after the initial treatment course, your vet may recommend a Culture and Sensitivity test to submit to the lab. This way, the bacteria can be grown, identified, and certain antibiotics can be tested to see which one is the next best option for treatment. Not all bacteria respond to the same antibiotic and dogs with allergies that have been on and off ear medications multiple times have a higher risk of developing more severe bacterial infections with more resistance to available antibiotics.
Its critical that your dog comes back in for the recommended recheck exam, often 2-3 weeks after starting treatment. We need to be sure the infection has completely resolved. Dogs with allergic otitis can have harder to treat ear infections and more frequent ear infections due to the allergy trigger.
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If youre mindful about feeding allergens to your dog with an ear infection, pick this high-quality dry food blend. This grain-free option works perfectly with allergic and sensitive dogs and offers them the right balance of healthy antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to promote overall wellbeing. This ones a popular choice amongst animal nutritionist for including the perfect ingredients to support your canines immune health.
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