by Carlotta Cooper
Ear problems? Could be food allergies
Years ago my sweet dog Avery started having inflamed ears when he was just a puppy. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I cleaned his ears as often as I cleaned my other dogs’ ears. I kept the hair around his long ears trimmed. I used a good ear cleaner that my vet had recommended. I even took Avery to the vet and we went through a couple of rounds of antibiotics. His ears would clear up but, as soon as the medicine was gone, the inflamed ears and yucky stuff would be back again. Believe it or not, Avery had these ear problems, off and on, for years.
That was a long time ago, before people talked very much about food allergies in dogs. The very idea that dogs could be allergic to regular dog food? Preposterous! But now we know that it not only happens, but it’s actually not uncommon at all. And one of the signs of food allergies is recurring ear infections.
Your dog’s ears provide a warm, moist, dark environment — perfect for things to grow. When your dog’s immune system is healthy his body (and his ears) can regulate all of the proteins, carbohydrates, starches and other nutrients in his diet. If your dog’s immune system is out of whack because his body is having a reaction to his food, that reaction can manifest itself in an ear infection — or in hives, itchy skin or other allergic reactions.
Changing food often helps your dog’s ears, especially if you are upgrading the food to one that’s higher quality. Animal protein is usually a better choice than vegetable proteins, such as corn, since it’s easier for your dog to digest and produces less waste in his system. Corn and wheat, found in many dog foods today, have been linked to many allergies.
There are lots of dog foods on the market today which offer “novel” or “exotic” proteins. You should be careful about feeding your dog a diet that is based completely on yak meat or making him crave emu burgers. (That’s not very far-fetched.) If your dog does have allergies you should try to use a food with an easily-available meat protein. Save the extremely exotic meat proteins in case the more common proteins don’t work for your dog. Whether your dog has allergies or not, you always want to have some options for him in the future. If you feed him the most exotic foods when you don’t have to, you won’t have anything available that he can eat if he develops an allergy to those foods.
If changing your dog’s food doesn’t completely clear your dog’s ears up you can also try adding some supplements to his diet. Acidophilus tablets, echinacea, and Ester C can all help improve your dog’s ear problems due to allergies. Acidophilus works to improve digestion. It has active live cultures, similar to yogurt, and can restore any imbalances in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Echinacea, in particular, can give a boost to your dog’s immune system.
I wish I’d known about many of these solutions when I still had my Avery. We battled his ear problem all his life. I tried one topical solution after another but the ear problems always returned. There was one terrible time when I tried a potion with blue gentian in it. Avery jerked just as I was pouring the concoction in his ear and my poor boy had purple ears for a few weeks. I tried to keep my friends and family from laughing at him but they laughed anyway. Poor Avery! It was bad enough to have ear infections. Now he had purple ears and people were laughing at him.
At least now we know much more about dogs and food allergies. We can do so much more to eliminate these ear problems by attacking the cause. If your dog has ear problems that seem to keep coming back after every treatment, look at his diet! He may have food allergies.