Chronic ear infections in dogs are caused by inhalant allergies
Just as people suffer from hay fever in the spring and fall, pets can get inhalant allergies, called atopy. Atopy is a common disease, affecting 10% to 15% of dogs. The age of onset varies form 6 months to 12 years, with 70% of affected dogs showing clinical signs between 1 and 3 years. Atopy signs are usually seasonal in the beginning, but 80% of dogs eventually experience year-round symptoms. Atopy is associated with irritation in certain body parts of dogs, including the flank, feet, base of the tail, and facial areas around the eyes, mouth, and ears. Female dogs are more likely to be affected than males.
Chronic ear infections are commonly caused by inhalant allergies. This is the most common cause of persistent ear infections in dogs. In certain breeds of dogs, the ears are covered by an ear flap which makes the inside of the ear canal moist and warm, somewhat like an incubator, which is the perfect environment for germs.
Dogs also have a lot of mast cells which can release histamine and other chemicals which are allergic. Thus, it is usual for dogs with allergies to have irritated and itchy ears. It is a long process where the ears are irritated by allergies and respond by producing more ear wax. Due to the inflamed ear canals and additional ear wax and the extra moistness and warmth of the ear canals of dogs, it is now obvious why dogs are so prone to ear infections.
It is important to control these ear infections early and consistently. If this is not done, the inflammation changes the structure of the ear canal and makes it harder to treat the infection. As a result, in many cases more difficult bacteria to kill eventually come to inhabit the ear. Take your dog to your veterinarian and find out if this is the problem and work with your veterinarian to develop a plan to control this problem consistently.
Atopy is sometimes controllable using a combination of essential fatty acid supplementation and an antihistamine like Atarax. This combination only works in about 10 to 15% of dogs but when it does work it is nice because there are far fewer side effects that with the use of corticosteroids.