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D2003-11

Dear Daisy Dog

Scarlett, our 5-year-old Lab-Dalmatian mix, gets ear mites every spring. The vet prescribes ear drops, and they have been very effective. But is it possible to prevent a recurrence of the ear mites this year?

Daisy Responds

Allergies, rather than ear mites, may be causing Scarlett’s springtime ear infections.

Adult dogs rarely get ear mites. On the other hand, an allergy to the pollen of a spring-blooming plant could easily lead to Scarlett’s seasonal ear infection.

Allergic skin disease, called atopy, often involves the ear canals. Other common locations are the feet, belly and armpits.

These areas become itchy, so dogs lick or scratch there. The skin – including the skin lining the ear canals – gets red and sometimes becomes infected.

Antihistamines help diminish the signs of allergic skin disease in some dogs, especially if they are started early in the allergy season. Veterinarians sometimes have to try more than one antihistamine before an effective one is found.

Steroids also relieve the itching of allergic skin disease, though they make us dogs drink and urinate more than usual.
Talk with your veterinarian about whether antihistamines might play a role in helping to minimize Scarlett’s ear problems this year.

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