Can Dogs Be Allergic to Cats? What Can I Do To Help?
Allergies can be found in many species, including domestic dogs and cats. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to food, grass, pollen, and other environmental triggers. But can dogs be allergic to other animals, like cats? Oddly, yes, they can.
Read more about cat allergies in dogs, the symptoms of a cat allergy, and what you can do to promote harmony in your household.
Cat Allergies in Dogs
No matter the trigger, the main sign of allergies in dogs is itching. While humans experience seasonal allergies with itchy eyes, clogged sinuses, and ear symptoms, dogs typically experience allergies in the form of itchy skin.
Dogs have an abnormal skin barrier that allows allergens, such as pollen, dust, and dander, to absorb and irritate their skin. The allergens absorb deeply and create an immune reaction and a histamine release, which causes itching. In many dogs, the areas with less fur, such as the abdomen, eyes, and mouth, tend to be itchier.
Some other symptoms of allergies in dogs include:
- Constant licking
- Coat discoloration
- Hair loss
- Unusual odors, which may be caused by a secondary infection
- Rubbing face or body against rough surfaces
- Ear pain or discomfort
Unfortunately, allergies tend to have the same symptoms regardless of the allergen itself. If you suspect allergies in your dog, it’s important to have them tested by a veterinarian to see what is causing an allergic reaction.
Your veterinarian will likely want an allergy test, which is the same as the way the test is done for humans. The veterinarian will scratch your dog with a small amount of a common allergen. This is repeated with several different allergens.
After a waiting period, you will bring your dog back to the veterinarian to examine the area and see which of the allergens caused an immune reaction. The affected areas will likely be red and inflamed, compared to areas that show minimal irritation.
Though a cat allergy can be the main cause, most dogs with allergies are allergic to more than one thing. Be sure to work with your vet to find an appropriate treatment for all your dog’s environmental triggers.
What Can You Do for a Dog With Cat Allergies?
If you determine that your dog is allergic to your cat, not all hope is lost. You don’t have to rehome one of your animals. Instead, you can treat the allergy to manage the symptoms.
Most dogs with allergies can be treated with immunotherapy, which involves exposure to the allergens. This may be done through injection or oral spray. The intent of immunotherapy is to alter the immune reaction over time and reduce or eliminate the need for allergy medications.
If your dog’s allergies are more severe, you may want to keep an emergency Epi-Pen at home. Though most dogs don’t have allergies that progress to the point of anaphylaxis, an Epi-Pen can be a lifesaving tool if it occurs. Speak to your vet about whether an Epi-Pen is appropriate for your dog and the severity of its allergy.
In addition to treatment, you can help by keeping your home clean and free from dander that will cause an allergy flare in your dog. It may be helpful to get an air purifier specifically designed for animal allergens. Here are some tips to support your pet’s allergy needs:
- Vacuum your home regularly, including fabric-covered furniture, carpets, and drapes. You may want to invest in a vacuum designed for pet hair and dander that includes a HEPA filter.
- Bathe your dog and cat regularly to remove the allergens that cause irritation.
- Clean hardwood floors with a wet-wipe cleaner or a broom that’s designed to collect pet hair and dander.
- Keep your dog and cat separated, if possible.
- Move the cat’s items, such as perches, trees, and climbing toys, away from areas where your dog likes to be.
- Talk to your veterinarian about giving your dog omega-3 fatty acid supplements to reduce inflammation and support skin health.
Left untreated, an allergic reaction in your dog will not only make it miserable, but can lead to skin infections, hot spots, ear infections, and lost fur.
Allergies can make a dog miserable, especially if they’re caused by the dander of a household companion. Fortunately, you have several options to treat your dog’s allergies and restore a healthy, happy balance in your home. Your veterinarian is a valuable teammate in helping you manage your dog’s allergies to improve its quality of life and keep all your beloved pets in the same household.
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