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Know Your Options: Allergy Meds for Dogs

Chase Those Itches and Sneezes Away with the Right Medications

By Mary Kearl. August 01, 2013 | See Comments

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    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

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Know Your Options: Allergy Meds for Dogs

Just like us, dogs can get allergies, and for myriad reasons. It could be something in the food they're eating, seasonal irritants like pollen, or a reaction to fleas. Find out how to treat these allergic reactions.

Like humans, dogs can have allergies, and luckily, there are allergy meds for dogs that can help. Some of the tell-tale signs of an allergic reaction in canines include:

  • Irritated skin
  • Scabbing
  • Watery eyes
  • Excessive scratching and grooming
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Snoring
  • Gnawing at the paws
  • Inflamed paws
  • Excessive licking
  • Ear infections
  • Upset stomach

How to Treat Allergies in Dogs

First, you’ll want to set up an appointment with your vet to determine the cause of the allergy and to learn about treatment options for your pet. In some cases, elimination of the allergen from your dog’s environment may be recommended. In other instances, using preventative products -- combs, shampoos/topical treatments to avoid fleas,or special diets for dogs with food allergies -- may be the most effective means of combating the allergy. As with allergies in humans, allergy shots or meds may also be recommended to treat the allergy.

The best way to help your pet manage allergies will be determined once the type of allergy is known. According to the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, the four main types of dog allergies include:

  • Contact allergies—triggered by interacting with an irritant (the most common are cleaning and beauty products, flea collars, fertilizers, medications, fabrics, seasonal pollens, plants, and plastics)
  • Injection allergies—the biggest culprit being fleas
  • Inhalant allergies—which, as it sounds, is when your dog reacts to something inhaled (such as smoke or seasonal pollen)
  • Food allergies—the most common being beef, dairy, corn, wheat, eggs, chicken, lamb, and soy

Allergy Meds for Dogs

  • Oral antihistamines (such as Benadryl) may be recommended to help your dog’s seasonal allergies or flea allergy dermatitis. These may aid in a few cases of dog allergies. Note: Not all antihistamines are safe for pets and some may be very dangerous. Do not give your pet human antihistamines without consulting a vet first.
  • Prescription anti-inflammatory drugs (such as corticosteroids) work to alleviate symptoms of itching.
  • Steroids may be administered for dogs with flea allergy dermatitis or inhalant allergies to attack the allergy and reduce the itching.
  • Allergy shots or injections (immunotherapy) will help your pet build a tolerance to the irritant, but not cure the allergies altogether. This treatment has been found to significantly improve symptoms for dogs in about half of the cases.
  • Prescription diets may be necessary for dogs with food allergies. An elimination diet may be recommended first to determine which foods are problematic for your pet. Your vet may also suggest a diet you can prepare at home, or specially formulated commercial foods.

Other treatments for Allergies in Dogs

  • Fatty acid supplements added to your dog’s food may help boost the efficacy of steroids and antihistamines.
  • Shampoos, lotions, gels, creams, and other topical products (often with oatmeal or aloe) may help soothe and reduce the symptoms of allergies. Frequent bathing and grooming may be beneficial in removing the allergens from your dog’s presence.
  • Products that prevent fleas, including gels and sprays, may need to be given on an ongoing basis to help your pet combat fleas and the associated symptoms.

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More on Caring for Dogs

How to Give a Pet Oral Medications
Symptoms of Arthritis in Dogs and Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.



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Allergy Meds for Dogs at a glance

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  • 1Medications may not exist or be necessary to prevent or treat ALL of the types of allergies dogs can have.
  • 2Allergy medications formulated for humans should not be given to pets without consulting a vet.
  • 3Antihistamines, anti-inflammatories, and steroids can help dogs cope with allergies.