• Dr. Shell

Does Your Dog Itch or Have Ear Problems?

This year we have seen a lot of itchy dogs and dogs with ear infections; and by a lot, I mean every day, multiple patients per day, continuously since November. You may ask, how can I tell if my dog is itchy? Here's what you may see at home: chewing on the sides, chewing on the feet or legs, licking the feet or legs, scratching at the head or ears, red skin, and hair loss.

What's causing the skin and ear problems? The answer is easy. Allergies. Because of our warm winter and rainy early summer, seasonal allergies have been incredibly bad this year.

Allergies lead to intense itching, which leads to intense scratching, chewing, and licking. This leads to hair loss, red skin, red ears, scabs, rashes, ear infections. So something as simple as an itch can lead to skin infections, ear infections, serious discomfort, and sleepless nights for the dogs and their owners.

Seasonal allergies, known as atopy, are the most common causes of skin and ear problems in Georgia dogs. Pollen, grasses, trees, molds, insects, are all possible causes. Typically, issues are worse in Spring and Fall, but this year has been different and allergies have been non stop. Food allergies can cause skin and ear problems, but these are much less common than seasonal allergies.

How are allergies treated? The first thing we do is check for infection of the ears and skin. Allergies often lead to skin and ear infections, and we have to treat these if we expect the itching to get better. While we are treating the infection, we also treat the allergies. There is a wide variety of oral, injectable, topical allergy treatments, and foods that can help manage your dog's allergies.

Our goal for treating allergies is to get rid of the infections, find an allergy treatment that will work to control the symptoms long term and, hopefully, reduce the likelihood of itching and infections in the future.