Allergic Otitis

Otitis is one the most frustrating diseases affecting pets. There are several forms of the disease including otitis externa, otitis media, and otitis interna, which affect the external, middle, and labyrinthine (internal) portions of the ear respectively. Dogs with allergic dermatitis and food hypersensitivity dermatitis are predisposed to otitis. In fact, ear involvement may be the only indication of an allergy. The itch-scratch-itch cycle results in hair loss, scabs and crusts around ears and the ear canal becomes filled with brown wax, or, sometimes, may appear very red. Calcification and even ossification of cartilage might also occur. Recurring skin and ear infections are not normal in dogs. If your dog has these chronic disorders, suspect that he has an underlying immune problem, thyroid, or adrenal gland disease.

Dogs with droopy ears, especially those who like to swim, seem to be more suceptible to ear infections. Dogs with allergies are especially prone to ear infections, as are dogs with smaller ear canals.1

Treat dog allergic otitis

Many agents have been found responsible for the development of allergic otitis. An allergic contact dermatitis can develop in the ear canals that have been treated with medical ear preparations. The antibiotic neomycin is a frequent cause of this problem. Dogs with positive reactions to molds, tree pollen or cultivated plants are more likely to have skin and ear yeast infections. Dogs with positive reactions to cultivated plants are more likely to have otitis externa and foot pad lesions.

Many yeasts and fungal organisms thrive in slightly damp environments. In addition, the skin of the ear canal does not form a tight barrier against infections unless it is dry. One of the most common yeast that contributes to chronic otitis externa in dogs is Malassezia species which inhabits the skin of humans and many other warm-blooded vertebrates and cause superficial skin disorders such as Malassezia pachydermatis dermatitis. Although Malassezia is mainly adapted to nonhuman animals, it has also been reported to cause generalized infection in humans. This yeast can be transmitted by human health-care workers from their pet dogs to their patients. The importance of Malassezia as emergent pathogens in humans is increasing because these yeast have been identified as causative agents of sepsis in immunocompromised patients and newborns receiving parenteral nutrition. Treatment is directed at alleviating the itching using antihistamines and corticosteroids.

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Nutraceutical diet, in combination with drugs, has been proved effective in relieving main clinical symptoms of chronic bilateral otitis externa (occlusion of ear canal, redness, discharge quantity, and odor) in 30 adult dogs, with the exception of Malassezia pachydermatis infection which was only slightly reduced. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities of the proposed diet have been ascribed to the presence of the pool of fish hydrolyzed proteins, rice carbohydrates, tea tree oil, flowers, bracts and leaves of lime tree, garlic, dog-rose, zinc and a well balanced omega3:6 ratio (1:0.8).3 Tea tree oil is widely used as antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory phytotherapic coumpound. Flowers, bracts and leaves of lime tree have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant activities. The berries of dog-rose are endowed with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunoprotective and antimicrobial activity due to the presence of phenolic acids, proanthocyanidins, tannins, flavonoids, unsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids, minerals, galactolipids, carotenoids and triterpenes. An optimal balance of the omega 3:6 fatty acids ratio in the food is considered a fundamental requirement for tissue health.3


  1. Peak Performance EBook: Coaching the Canine Athlete. Canine Sports Productions, Christine Zink
  2. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, June 2000, p. 2383-2385, Vol. 38, No. 6
  3. Clinical evaluation of an antiinflammatory and antioxidant diet effect in 30 dogs affected by chronic otitis externa: preliminary results Alessandro Di Cerbo, Sara Centenaro, Francesca Beribè, Fulvio Laus, Matteo Cerquetella, Andrea Spaterna, Gianandrea Guidetti, Sergio Canello, Giuseppe Terrazzano. 2016

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