How to help dogs with skin and ear allergies.
Dogs with allergies often have skin and ear problems at the same time.
In fact, skin and ear problems may be the first sign that dog has an allergy. In these cases, addressing only the ear or skin affection fails to get at the root of the problem, the allergy.
About one and ten dog suffers from inhalent allergies that cause inhalent itchy skin, and about half of these dogs have chronic ear infections.
Significantly, most dogs that have inhalent allergies have other allergies as well, including flea allergy dermatitis and food allergies.
Often dogs immune systems can handle a single allergen, but become overburden by several at once.
The approach to skin and ear allergies described here aims to reduce or eliminate a dog’s exposure too many of the most common allergens, with the goal of bringing a dog’s total exposure to allergens down to a level a dog’s immune system can handle.
Since it’s difficult to eliminate inhalant allergens, pollen, dust, and mold, let’s focus on eliminating more easily controlled allergens such as those in food.
When to Contact Veterinarian
1. If your dog skin is so itchy he can’t get comfortable or his skin is very smelly or not, improving even after two baths, see your veterinarian.
2. If your dog is showing severe discomfort, if his ears have a foul smell or if the ear canals look abnormal, contact your veterinarian.
3. If your dog tilts his head constantly, walks in circles or seems uncoordinated, your dog could have a middle ear infection or a ruptured or weak eardrum, contact your veterinarian before putting anything in his ear.
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Help for a Dog’s Skin and Ear Allergies
Strengthening a dog skin and coat doesn’t reduce allergens, but can dramatically reduce their negative affects.
The dog’s ear is part of a skin, so improving skin health improves ear health too.
Some dogs will be helped with just one or two of the approaches listed below. Other dogs may require more changes. We recommend trying them one at a time first.
Improve the Health of your Dog’s Ear, Skin and Coat
Essential fatty acids supplements support healthy skin and coat and overall Canine health. Consider adding Salmon/Pollock Oil, Ultra Oil, Primal Sardine Grind or Super Snouts Green Lipid Muscle to your dog’s diet.
Clean and remove excess hairs from ears once a month. If your dog’s ears are irritated, start by cleaning them twice a day for two weeks, then transition to once a month.
Enzymes and probiotics support the immune system by making nutrients easier for the body to access. This easier access stocks’ the immune system with the necessary elements to function well. Consider adding In Clover OptaGest, Animal Essentials Plant Enzymes & Probiotics, HerbSmith Microflora Plus, and the Honest Kitchen Pro Bloom Goats Milk.
Bathe your dog with a soothing, non-drying natural shampoo. Bathe and itchy dog every two weeks, but if your dog’s skin is dry or smelly, bathe him every two days. Shampoos to consider include those which contain Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil, Coal Neem and Shee Butter.
Some dog’s need extra skin support. Dogs that need additional help for their skin frequently benefit from natural supplements specifically designed to improve skin and coat health. Consider Animal Essentials Seasonal Allergy, Canine Matrix Skin and Coat, or HerbSmith Clear AllerQi.
Reduce Food Allergens in your Dog’s Diet
Food allergens come from proteins, both meat and grain.
Limiting all of your dog’s treats and chews to the same single (novel) protein and single (novel) grain will greatly reduce the number of allergens to which your dog is exposed. Novel just means that your dog hasn’t had it before.
Switch to a raw diet - A primary benefit to a raw diet is that it contains active enzymes and probiotics, which make food easier to digest and support immune system.
Other excellent components contained in a raw food include photochemical, antioxidants and essential fatty acids which support healthy skin and organs.
Again, look for single proteins and single grain or grain free formulas. Raw diets can be found in the freezer, but are also available as “raw without the thaw“ in convenient air dried, freeze-dried or dehydrated formulas.
Manufacturers who make a raw diet‘s to consider include:
- K-9 Naturals - frozen and freeze-dried
- Northwest Naturals - frozen and freeze-dried
- Nature’s Variety - frozen
- Primal - frozen and freeze-dried
- Stella and Chewy’s - frozen and freeze-dried
- Tuckers - frozen
- The Honest Kitchen - freeze-dried
- SoJo’s - dehydrated
- Vital Essentials - frozen and freeze-dried
- Ziwi Peak - air-dried
Switch to a grain free diet - Switching to a grain free diet made with a proteins source your dog has an eaten in the past is another way to reduce his exposure to allergens. Foods to consider include: N&D, Nulo, Open Farm, Kasiks, Lotus and First Mate.
Switch to a limited ingredient diet - Aim for foods containing a single, novel meat (such as duck or venison) and a single novel carbohydrate such as brown rice, peas, or tapioca. Some brand suggestions for these diets are: K9 Natural, Nulo Limited, N&D Ocean, Nature’s Variety Instinct LID, and FirstMate.
For a limited diet to succeed, all the food your dog eats, including canned foods, treats, chews and table scraps, must be limited to the same protein in green for at least 12 weeks.
If the first attempt doesn’t work, consider trying a different meat and a different carbohydrate source. However, if your dog has not improved after one or two 12 week trials, consider asking a veterinarian to conduct an elimination trial.
If you suspect your dog may have a true food allergy, we recommend limiting the number of limited ingredient diets to try.
Exposing your dog to all or most of the exotic proteins and carbohydrates sources used in dog food may reduce the elimination diet options available to your veterinarian.
Reduce the Skin and Ear Allergy Inhalants
Reduce exposure to pollen - Wipe your dog’s paws off as they come in from outside to reduce pollen and grasses that could cause an allergy. Earthbaths Hypoallergenic Grooming Wipes work well.
During high pollen season or if your dog has been out in high grass, give him a bath or at least rinse off. Keep him inside while mowing or weeding. Keep the grass in your yard short.
Reduce exposure to mold - Keep your dog out of barns, high moisture areas like bathrooms or laundry rooms or any place that’s darker or damp. Consider substituting raw or canned food for kibble to eliminate exposure to dust from finely ground kibble particles.
Reduce exposure to house dust and dust mites - Wash your dogs bedding frequently in hot water. Keep them out of rooms that are dusted or vacuum for two hours afterwards. Add a high-quality air filter to your furnace and air conditioner or install an electronica air cleaner.
Reduce or eliminate fleas - if your dog has fleas, it can be a factor for skin and ear allergies. Using a flea shampoo on your dog and in your house to help control your dog's healthy skin and coat.
It may take up to 12 weeks before you see a significant improvement, but gradual improvement should be noted within the first week or two.
Dogs that are allergic to many things can be challenging and may require more changes. These recommendations can help most dogs with skin and air allergies, but we recommend seeing your veterinarian for more specific testing if there is no improvement after trying several approaches.
It’s important to distinguish between an anaphylactic allergic response, the potentially fatal response some people have to shellfish or peanuts. A dog’s allergic response dogs generally have to do with the inhalant in food allergens.
A dog’s anaphylactic allergic response that causes hives or swelling is generally associated with insect stings, vaccines and drug reactions. It’s extremely rare for a dog to respond in the same way to food or inhaling to Allergan.
Dogs’ response to food and inhaling allergens is generally confined to intense itching, hotspots, irritation, scratching and secondary infections.