Seasonal Allergies & Your Dog's Ears: What You Need to Know


alt="Small black dog itching his ear with his hind leg in a grassy field."

Spring is here, and summer is approaching––but that doesn’t mean the spring allergy season is ending! Peak allergy seasons are becoming longer and dogs, like humans, can experience seasonal allergies. These symptoms can be particularly troublesome for a dog’s delicate ears (and other parts of the body like the eyes, nose, skin, etc.). 

Let's take a closer look at how seasonal allergies can affect dogs' ears, and what you can do to help ease their discomfort!

Seasonal allergy symptoms in dogs

When it comes to seasonal allergies in dogs, a few common symptoms can affect your pet. Some of the most frequently reported symptoms include:

  • Skin irritation and itching (licking, chewing, scratching, and/or rubbing)
  • Sneezing and coughing
  • Runny nose 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Red eyes (e.g., in whites of the eyes, third eyelid, or tissue lining the eyelids)
  • Dog ear infections
  • Red, inflamed skin or hot spots
  • Digestive issues (vomiting, abnormal bowel movements, or reduced appetite) 

While the symptoms of seasonal allergies can vary from dog to dog, it's important to keep an eye out for any unusual behavior or changes in your pet's health.

How do seasonal allergies affect dogs' ears?

One of the most common ways that seasonal allergies can affect dogs is by causing irritation and inflammation in their ears. This can happen for a number of reasons, including exposure to allergens like pollen, dust mites, or grass––and can happen anytime, whether your dog is playing inside or outside!

When a dog is exposed to an allergen, their immune system reacts by releasing histamines and other chemicals, which can cause inflammation and itching in the ears. This can lead to a range of uncomfortable symptoms, including:

  • Scratching or pawing at the ears
  • Shaking the head or tilting it to one side
  • Redness or swelling inside the ear canal
  • Excessive wax buildup or discharge
  • Foul odor or discharge from the ears 
  • Tenderness around the affected ear
  • Lethargy or other behavior changes (seeking isolation, etc.)
  • Reduced appetite or difficulty chewing (generally on the side of the affected ear)

If left untreated, these symptoms can become more severe, potentially leading to ear infections or other health issues. In order to help them deal with symptoms, you’ll want to identify what kind of seasonal allergies affect your dog most. A grass allergy in dogs, dog dust mite allergy, or even a pollen allergy can all affect how you tackle dog ear allergies. 

How to treat dog itchy ears at home

Nobody wants to see dog ear allergies affecting their poor pup! If your dog is showing signs of seasonal allergies, there are a number of steps you can take to help relieve their discomfort. Here are some helpful tips for treating itchy ears at home:

Clean the ears

You can use a gentle, pet-safe ear cleaner to remove any excess wax or debris caused by dog ear allergy triggers. Be sure to follow the instructions on the label and avoid sticking cotton swabs or other objects inside the ear canal––save that job for your veterinarian! 

Ear cleaning should be done as frequently as needed to help remove allergens and environmental debris. If you’re not sure about how often to clean your dog’s ears, get your veterinarian's recommendation on the best frequency.

Border Collie having his ears gently checked by his owner as he sits in a grassy area.

Keep the outer ear clean

Tag-team ear cleaning with not just an inner ear cleaner but ear-cleaning wipes, too! Ear wipes can remove discharge and environmental allergens (like pollen or grass debris) that might have landed on your dog’s ears. 

For dogs who hate having their ears flushed with a cleaning solution, ear wipes can be a good alternative for their pet parents while empowering them to support their dog's ear health more regularly.

Apply a soothing ointment

After cleaning the ears, apply a pet-safe ointment or salve to help soothe any inflammation or itching. Look for products that contain calming natural ingredients like aloe vera, chamomile, or tea tree oil––or ask your veterinarian to suggest an appropriate ear medication.

Address itchy areas 

A dog itching ears with their back paws can cause small lacerations (cuts) on the delicate tissue of the pinnae (ear flap) that can be painful for your pet. Keep itching in check with a topical ant-itch spray that can soothe that urgent need to itch without causing irritation.

Use an ice pack

If your dog's ears are particularly swollen or irritated, you can apply a cool, damp cloth or ice pack to the affected area to help reduce inflammation. Be sure to wrap the ice pack in a towel to avoid direct contact with the skin.

Limit exposure to allergens

It’s impossible to remove all seasonal allergens from your dog’s environment, but you can still do your best to reduce their exposure! Try to keep your dog away from any known allergens, such as grass or pollen, and limit their time outside during peak allergy season. 

Consider using an air purifier or vacuum to reduce the amount of dust and allergens in your home. If you really want to get a jump on indoor allergies, make sure to regularly clean your air filters and wash all pet (and human) bedding and upholstery on a regular basis.

Consult with a veterinarian

If your dog's symptoms persist or worsen, don’t hesitate to seek professional veterinary care. Your vet can help diagnose the underlying cause of your dog's ear itching and recommend appropriate treatment options. These could include prescription medications or other treatments that can dull the sensation of itching, reduce inflammation, and help your dog's immune system acclimate to seasonal allergies.

Seasonal allergies can be a real pain for dogs, but the good news is that there are steps you can take to help relieve their discomfort! By keeping an eye out for common symptoms like itching ears–and taking proactive steps to treat and prevent seasonal allergies–you can help keep your furry friend’s ears in a happy place!

This blog exists to provide general information and education about veterinary health and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, website, or in any linked materials is not intended as and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We cannot diagnose conditions, provide second opinions, or make specific treatment recommendations through this blog or website.

If you suspect that your pet has a medical concern, you should consult with your veterinary health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment immediately. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog, website, or in any linked materials.

Join the Pack!

Sign up for exclusive deals, curated pet tips from veterinarians, and product launches!

Pet Parents Are Also Reading... 

Labrador dog having his ears checked by a veterinarian

April, 2023

Related Articles

Image of veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney holding a terrier dog and smiling


Dr. Patrick Mahaney works as a concierge-style veterinarian and has a number of celebrity clients through his house-call practice, California Pet Acupuncture and Wellness. He loves building personal, long-term relationships with his clients to best suit their pets’ needs within the comfortable confines of their homes.

To spread his message of holistic veterinary medicine on a large-scale basis, Dr. Mahaney attained a Certified Veterinary Journalist certificate and enjoys contributing to pet-related media projects. He is also a certified veterinary acupuncturist.

Follow Vetnique

Follow us on social for pet tips from vets, new product launches, and giveaways! 

Follow Vetnqiue on Facebook
Follow Vetnique on Instagram
Follow Vetnique on TikTok
Follow Vetnique on Pinterest