Trudy and her itchiness

Trudy is a 2 year-old retriever mix who occasionally seems itchy. Through the summer, she licked her feet fairly often, and seemed to scratch her ear a lot. Recently, her owner noticed her ear seemed red and had a lot of debris in it. Her owner also noticed red bumps on her belly. She brought her to the clinic.

Trudy was diagnosed with and ear infection and a skin infection (dermatitis). The combination of these signs in a dog are indicative of allergies.

She was placed on some medications to help clear up her infections.

It is very common for canines to suffer from allergies. Chronic allergies in a dog can lead to chronic ear infections and chronic skin infections. It is not until a veterinarian sees these sighs, that she can diagnose a dog with allergies.

Allergies can develop in a dog at any age, but most commonly show up at 2-5 years of age.


  • Parasites such as fleas or mites.
  • In Chicagoland, seasonal allergies are common: we see many allergy conditions in March-October. Late summer-fall seem to be the worst times – when (outdoor) molds and pollens are at their peak.
  • Environmental factors can also be a cause of allergies in dogs. These include common dust mites and storage mites.
  • Dogs can also be allergic to cat dander, human dander, wool and many other items and products found around the house.
  • Canines can also suffer from food allergies. Proteins are the cause of allergic reactions with beef, dairy, wheat, chicken being the top 4. (SOURCE 1)

    Allergies can cause a myriad of signs in the dog including:

  • itching
  • runny eyes
  • ear infections
  • skin rashes
  • reddened, warm skin
  • hives
  • swelling of the muzzle
  • skin infections: including yeast and bacterial

    Testing for allergies can be tricky. Blood tests and intradermal (skin) testing may be run. Mostly, diagnoses are made by presence of ear infections, skin rashes/infections, how often they present, and how they respond to treatment.

    There is no cure for allergies. Treatment for allergies includes a multimodal approach. Some patients have signs for a short period of time and can be treated that way. Other patients have signs all year around; these patients may need life long treatment.

    With a doctor’s recommendation, treatments can include: antihistamines, omega 3 therapy, antibiotics, baths/shampoos, sprays, anti-fungals, ear drops, anti-itch medications, immunosuppressants, allergy shots, etc.

    Many owners think that foods are the main cause of a patient’s allergy issues. This is usually not the case. It is often recommended that owners hold off on changing a patient’s food so other causes can first be ruled out first. Since proteins are the cause of allergic reactions (NOT GRAINS OR COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATES), proteins must be the focus when choosing a diet.

    If a diet change is recommended, it is necessary for owners to eliminate ALL other sources of proteins in a dog’s diet – including snacks, table scraps, and medications with meat flavorings such as monthly chewable heartworm prevention. A limited protein diet must be in place for 6 weeks before determining if it is working. Over-the-counter foods are likely not good choices as they may contain ingredients not listed on the package. (SOURCE 2)

    Trudy responded well to a short round of ear medication, antibiotics and topical therapy. Her ear and skin infection cleared up and she is not longer itchy. Her owner is going to see how Trudy does as the winter starts to see if her allergies can be attributed to seasonal factors. She started Trudy on a fish oil (Omega 3) supplement to help with her skin health all year round.