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Dog Allergies to Cats: Signs, Treatment, and Multi-Pet Living

Maybe you’re considering adding a cat to your pet family, multiplying the entertainment and love swirling around your home on any given day. But what if your dog is allergic to cats? This scenario is more common than you might think. Strangely enough, dogs and cats can be allergic to each other. Pet allergies can be an unpredictable hurdle when creating a multi-pet household, but there are a few things you can keep an eye out for to keep your pets allergy-free. And, if your pup is allergic to cats, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to find new homes for your feline friends — there are treatment options that can help.

Understanding pet allergies

Allergies in both humans and pets involve an abnormal immune response to a substance that is typically considered harmless (allergen). When a pet is exposed to the allergen, their immune system overreacts, triggering the release of chemicals such as histamine and resulting in symptoms of an allergic reaction. These allergens can take many forms, including pet dander, pollen, fleas, or even a particular food.

Can dogs be allergic to cats?

Like humans, dogs can be allergic to cats. While pet-to-pet allergies are less common than human allergies to pets, they can still occur. Dogs can be allergic to other animals, including other dogs, cats, and hamsters. They can even be allergic to humans!

In the case of dogs allergic to cats, dander is often the culprit. Dander is the dead skin pets shed, often clinging to various surfaces or even becoming airborne when dry. Cat dander allergies in dogs are the most common, but it isn’t the only potential problem.

Other possible allergens include cat saliva or urine. Like dander, these substances can cling to and soak into various surfaces, causing problems long after the cat has left the room.

A cat allergy in dogs can develop at any age, much like food and environmental allergies. They can even appear after years of living with cats peacefully, suddenly causing discomfort for your pup.

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Symptoms of dog allergies to cats

Dogs with allergies to cats often display numerous signs and symptoms that indicate their discomfort. While people with allergies often have respiratory symptoms, dogs often experience skin issues. Dog allergic to cat symptoms often include:

  • Itchiness (pruritus) leading to constant licking, chewing, and scratching
  • Red, irritated, or inflamed skin
  • Skin lesions, such as scabs, sores, or pustules
  • Itchy ears or chronic ear infections
  • Hair loss
  • Hives
  • Sneezing
  • Itchy or runny eyes
  • Swollen areas of the face, eyelids, lips, ears, or earflaps
  • Diarrhea and vomiting (in cases of food allergies)

The symptoms of dogs being allergic to cats can vary based on the severity and type of allergy your pup has. For example, your dog might only experience mild symptoms when they go in areas where cats have been, but when the cat is nearby, the symptoms might worsen considerably.

It’s important to note that dog allergies can stem from multiple allergens, not just cats. In fact, dogs with one type of allergy are more likely to have others. While possible, dog allergies to cats aren’t as common, so if you suspect your dog might be allergic to cats, talk to your veterinarian. Your vet can rule out other conditions and diagnose the allergy, helping you keep your pup comfortable and symptom-free.

Treatment options for dog allergies to cats

If your dog is allergic to cats, they’ll need your help to remain comfortable and symptom-free. So, what should you do if your dog is allergic to cats? It depends on the specifics of your dog’s allergy and needs.

Common cat allergy in dogs treatment options, as well as for many other types of allergies, include:

Vet-prescribed medication

If your pup is suffering from incessant allergy symptoms, your vet may be able to prescribe a medication to keep them more comfortable. The specific medication will vary based on the type and severity of your dog’s allergy but might include antihistamines, corticosteroids, Apoquel, or Cytopoint to help reduce allergy symptoms such as itchy skin. If your dog has a skin or ear infection associated with their allergies, this will also need to be treated with oral or topical antibiotics. Lastly, it's important to keep all dogs on a year-round broad-spectrum flea and parasite preventative.

In some cases, allergy immunotherapy, or allergy desensitization, might be a viable treatment option. This treatment exposes your pup to the symptom-causing allergen, giving their immune system the opportunity to build a tolerance. Allergy immunotherapy is commonly used to treat pet allergies in humans, too, and has shown promising results for those with diverse allergies.

Of course, immunotherapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. So, if you’re wondering whether AIT is a good option for your pup, chat with your veterinarian. They can offer more input based on factors specific to your dog’s health. It's important to note that this treatment is more specialized, so it often requires skin tests and a dermatologist referral.

Shampoos and wipes

Allergy shampoos and wipes are designed to remove and neutralize allergens on your pup’s skin and fur to keep them as comfortable as possible. So, if your pup is allergic to cats, doing a quick bath or wipe-down with allergy wipes can make a huge difference.

Of course, a bath with shampoo usually does a better job of removing all of the allergens that might be hanging out on your dog’s skin or fur. You can even use medicated shampoos as directed by your vet to treat minor skin irritation or infection due to your pup's allergies. That said, wipes can be a good way to keep your dog more comfortable when bathing isn’t an option. Plus, since frequent bathing can cause skin issues and impact the quality of your dog's coat, wipes can be a good alternative.

Environmental control measures

Keeping your dog’s environment under wraps is an outstanding way to minimize discomfort and reactivity due to allergies. These measures are great as dog allergy to cat home remedies and may include:

  • Frequent vacuuming. Cat dander and fur can cling to surfaces throughout your home, especially cloth furniture, carpets, and rugs, so regular vacuuming can go a long way in helping your dog stay comfortable.
  • Air purifiers. When dry, cat dander and saliva can become airborne, triggering your dog’s allergies long after the cat is gone. Air purifiers for dog allergies to cats can help remove those triggers from the air, minimizing exposure to the allergen.
  • Washing pet bedding. Wash your dog’s bedding regularly, especially if they’ve been around cats. The cat’s dander and fur may cling to their fur and skin, transferring to their bedding when they lay down and causing irritation even after you bathe them.
  • Creating a cat-free zone. If you or your roommate has a cat but your dog is allergic, create a cat-free zone where your pup can hang out. Make sure it’s a closed-off area that the kitty can’t get into.
  • Grooming routines. Maintaining a consistent grooming routine for your feline friend can help keep your allergic dog more comfortable. While kitties usually do a great job of cleaning themselves, it might be a good idea to chat with your vet about grooming options that may help.

In addition to these measures, it can be helpful to chat with your veterinarian about creating a personalized management plan for your dog. They can offer personalized insight to help you create a comfortable living environment for each of your pets, allergies or not.

Can cats be allergic to dogs?

While rare, it’s possible for your cat to be allergic to dogs. Much like humans, cats with allergies to dogs display various allergic symptoms, including itching, skin changes, and redness.

If you suspect your cat might be allergic to your dog, talk to your veterinarian. Your vet will help rule out other potential causes or allergens and determine the best treatment option based on your cat’s needs.

While dogs can be allergic to cats (and vice versa), creating a harmonious multi-pet household can be doable. With successful allergy management, whether it be vet-prescribed meds or environmental control measures, you, your dog, and your cat can live happily and comfortably under one roof.

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