What Can I Give My Dog for Allergies Over-the-Counter & More
No matter how healthy we try to keep our pets, allergies are often inevitable. If your dog scratches constantly, you might wonder if they have allergies and what allergy relief for dogs is available.
Relieving your dog's allergy symptoms can be challenging, but there are many good options to explore. From over-the-counter meds to natural remedies, it is possible to soothe your dog’s allergies quickly and affordably.
Keep reading to learn:
- What to give your dog for allergies
- Symptoms of dog allergies
- Common dog allergies + best treatments
- Types of allergy medicine for dogs
What can I give my dog for allergies
Your dog can develop allergies no matter where you live. For quick relief, vets recommend antihistamines like Benadryl, Zyrtec, and Claritin to treat allergies in dogs. But, before you give your dog allergy meds, make sure you know the type of allergy they're dealing with.
Choosing the right allergy medication depends on your dog’s condition, lifestyle, and environment. Keep a good record of your dog's health history and look out for these symptoms.
Symptoms of dog allergies
Like humans, dogs experience allergy symptoms — many of which look and sound similar. Here are the 8 most common allergy symptoms in dogs:
- Itchy skin
- Hair loss and scabbing
- Facial swelling
- Sneezing and runny nose
- Stomach upset and lethargy
- Chronic ear infections
- Anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction)
Aside from allergy symptoms, they may also experience an allergic reaction to something your dog eats or the medicine they take. Dogs respond to medications and environments in different ways.
If your dog is having an allergic response, they may experience more serious symptoms like:
- Hives (patches of red, itchy bumps on the skin)
- Atopic dermatitis (inflammatory skin disease caused by fleas)
- Stomach issues (like vomiting or diarrhea)
To avoid allergic reactions in your dog, be sure they are taking the appropriate dosage according to their body weight. Seek veterinary care immediately if your dog has an allergic reaction after starting a medication.
Common dog allergies + best treatments
Allergies in dogs can come from a variety of triggers. And for every type of allergy, there are just as many ways to treat them.
Every type of allergy is unique and requires specific treatments and solutions. Before answering, "what can I give my dog for allergies," learn where dog allergies come from. Plus, explore the best treatment options for each allergy.
Food allergies are present in dogs who have an allergic reaction to the foods they eat. Food allergies are relatively rare in pets. But, some common foods dogs are allergic to are wheat, chicken, beef, and dairy.
Inflamed skin, hot spots on your dog's body, and other skin issues are the most common symptoms of food allergies. If you have an itchy dog, an ingredient in your dog’s food may be the culprit.
Best treatment: Hypoallergenic diets
A hypoallergenic diet allows your dog's system to "reset" and rid of old protein sources in their body. But, this process takes time, so give your dog a few months to heal from chronic allergy symptoms from food allergies. Over time, this solution can help bring your dog relief.
Keep reading about dietary restrictions for you dog »
Triggers in your dog's environment are the leading cause of environmental allergies. Some substances that can trigger environmental allergies in your dog include:
- Grass, trees, and plants
- Airborne substances (pollen, dust, or mold)
- Other animals (pet dander)
Best treatment: Prescription medications
Environmental allergies are tough to beat because they are often out of your control. So, the best way to combat them is with strong, prescription medication. If your dog suffers from environmental allergies, visit your vet to discuss your options.
Determine which prescription is right for your dog »
Skin allergies are very common in dogs. Types of food, the environment, and insect bites from parasites like fleas can trigger skin irritation and allergies.
Skin allergies can lead to uncomfortable symptoms in your pet like:
- Irritated skin (and itchy dogs)
- Excessive scratching
- Chewing or biting the skin
If left untreated, sores and hot spots on your dog can lead to a skin infection.
Best treatment: Prescription medications
Prescriptions from your DVM (doctor of veterinary medicine) are best to treat your dog's nagging symptoms. Schedule a dog check-up to explore options for your dog's skin allergy.
Find the right prescription allergy meds »
We know that humans suffer from seasonal allergies, but did you know that your dog can too? Dogs suffer from seasonal allergies caused by allergens in the air like pollen, dust, and mold.
Allergy symptoms in dogs can show at any time of year. But, spring, summer, and fall are the most common times of the year for allergies in dogs.
Best treatment: Antihistamines
Antihistamines are commonly used to treat dog allergies. Their histamine-blocking quality tackles airborne allergens and reduces symptoms in your pup. The safest over-the-counter options for your dog include Benadryl, Zyrtec, Claritin, and Allegra.
Explore other antihistamines »
Flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) is the most common cause of allergic reactions in dogs. FAD occurs when fleas bite your dog causing irritation and infection.
When a flea bites your dog, they leave traces of its saliva on the skin. The enzymes and peptides in the flea's saliva trigger a release in your dog's immune system. Flea saliva can also cause an allergic response through skin irritation.
Best treatment: Flea and tick prevention
Flea and tick prevention won't relieve your pet's allergy symptoms. But, it will help you prevent irritation from flea allergy dermatitis. Flea allergies can be frustrating, but they are preventable. The best way to prevent flea allergy dermatitis is to use a topical flea & tick treatment.
Learn about flea & tick prevention »
Bacterial and fungal infections
Fungal and bacterial infections are a problem for dog owners and their pets. They are often linked to allergies because an allergy can make matters (and symptoms) worse for your pets.
Heightened allergy symptoms can lead to many common infections in dogs, including:
- Bacterial ear infections
- Bacterial eye infections
- Yeast dermatitis
- Staphylococcal infection (staph infection)
Fungal and bacterial infections can negatively affect your dog's immune system if left untreated.
Best treatment: Antifungal creams
Depending on the type of infection, your vet may suggest an antibiotic or an antifungal cream. Antifungal creams are commonly used to treat topical fungal infections in dogs. If you are dealing with an ear infection or looking for oral treatment, visit your vet to receive a prescription.
See other antifungal options »
Types of allergy medications
Once you have a good understanding of where your dog's allergies come from, you can start to identify the right medication. But, what is the best allergy medicine for dogs and how does it compare to other allergy medications?
Allergy medicines vary in benefits and have different purposes. Oral medications are common for treating many types of allergies. But, there are other medications (like topical treatments) that you can give your dog.
To treat your allergic dog, you can try:
- Over-the-counter medicine
- Prescription medications
- Supplements and dietary restrictions
- Natural remedies
While it's not possible to completely get rid of pet allergies, you can provide your pup with some much-needed comfort. If your dog has environmental allergies, OTC meds can help lessen their allergy symptoms.
These OTC medications for dogs are simple and affordable solutions for the most common allergy symptoms.
Antihistamines are usually safe for dogs. But, there are a few side effects to keep an eye out for. Some antihistamine drugs have ingredients that may cause drowsiness and hyperactivity.
Here are the most common types of antihistamines to treat dogs who suffer from allergies.
Vets often suggest diphenhydramine to treat allergies in dogs. Known by the brand name Benadryl, this medication is completely safe for dogs, if dosed correctly.
Check with your vet before you give your dog Benadryl to ensure their dose aligns with their body weight. Giving your dogs Benadryl can cause symptoms to watch for common ones like lethargy.
Cetirizine (Zyrtec) is another antihistamine used to treat dog allergies. It's important to keep in mind that the dosage for humans and dogs is completely different. Consult with your vet about the right dose for your dog's weight.
Claritin usually does not cause drowsiness or hyperactivity unless your dog gets an incorrect dosage. But, some forms of Claritin contain decongestants that can be toxic to dogs. Be sure to read the ingredients and only give your dog Claritin if the only active ingredient is an antihistamine.
Allegra is an antihistamine that is safe to give to dogs. The standard Allegra formula contains only fexofenadine hydrochloride as the active ingredient. Allegra D and Allegra for children are not safe for dogs. They contain a decongestant and xylitol respectively that are toxic for pets.
Read the label carefully before giving your dog antihistamines.
Be sure that the product only contains antihistamines. Talk with your vet before giving your dog allergy medication — each is dosed according to your dog's body weight.
Flea and tick prevention#
While flea & tick preventatives do not relieve allergy symptoms in dogs, they can help prevent allergic reactions. This is because dogs can develop skin infections and allergies from parasitic bites.
Most flea & tick prevention treatments kill and prevent fleas, ticks, and lice. Stop symptoms at the source with a regular flea & tick treatment for your dog.
Hypoallergenic wipes and shampoos
Your dog's paws come in contact with a lot of allergy-related environments. If your dog deals with allergy symptoms like itchy paws consider a hypoallergenic wipe or shampoo to clean your dog. But, read the label before buying because some products can be irritating to your pet.
But, read the label before buying a product. Some shampoos and wipes can be irritating to your pet, which can cause more harm than good.
If your dog has a fungal infection, you may try antifungal creams to treat your dog. Most are topical antifungal ointments for dogs that are commonly used to treat skin infections.
Other types of antifungal creams used to treat infections include:
Watching your dog suffer from symptoms like itching and chewing can be frustrating as a pet owner. If you feel like over-the-counter medications aren't effective enough, you may need help from your vet.
Prescriptions and other forms of veterinary medicine can help relieve your dog's allergy symptoms. Here are 3 types of vet-directed medications for dogs.
Vets often prescribe oral medications to treat allergies from the inside out. Oral treatments can help relieve your dog's allergies and prevent further infection or irritation.
The dosage for each oral treatment is dependent on your dog's body weight. Talk with your vet about how much medicine your dog needs and how often they can take the medication.
Here are two types of oral medication that can treat your dog's allergies.
Apoquel is a prescriptive oral tablet that fights the effects of cytokines. These proinflammatory proteins cause allergic reactions in dogs. Apoquel helps reduce inflammation and provides relief within four hours of consumption.
Atopica is a soft oral capsule for the treatment of atopy and atopic dermatitis in dogs. The active ingredient in Atopica is cyclosporine. This ingredient suppresses your dog's immune system and relieves itchy inflamed skin.
Allergy shots have become increasingly common in pets and humans alike. They need help from a vet and can be very expensive, but are effective in providing immediate relief for your pet.
Here are two types of allergy shots to explore for your dogs.
Cytopoint is an injectable medicine for dogs of all ages. They last about four to eight weeks and have few potential side effects. Cytopoint may be mixed with other medications used for pre-existing health conditions, but it may not work for every dog.
In some cases, it can provide extreme relief for your dog. In others, it may only help slightly or the relief will not last very long.
IV vitamin C therapy
IV vitamin C therapy is a newer method of allergy treatment. A high-dose injection of vitamin C enters your pet's bloodstream via an IV catheter. This type of therapy is great if your pet has experienced adverse side effects from other forms of allergy treatment.
IV vitamin C therapy can provide anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits for your dog. IV vitamin C therapy isn’t a prescription medication, this treatment requires a vet's help.
Allergen immunotherapy is a medical treatment in which your pet receives small amounts of allergens. Exposure to these allergens can help your pet build immunity against them.
The most common examples include:
This process trains your dog's immune system to be less sensitive through repeated exposure. The goal of allergen immunotherapy is to limit your pet's reliance on allergy meds. Immunotherapy allergy shots come in an oral form or an injection by your vet.
Supplements and dietary restrictions
If you want to try to control allergy symptoms without medications, supplements and changing your dog's diet are great options.
Here are a few supplement suggestions and dietary plans to explore for your pet.
Probiotics & prebiotics
Like humans, dogs need help getting the best nutrients to stay happy and healthy. Giving your dog a probiotic is a great way to support their digestive health. By introducing good bacteria into the gut, your dog's allergies may go away completely.
Probiotics and prebiotics are also great for boosting your pup's immune system. A strong immune system means an easier time fighting off allergies and infections.
Most dog food contains the necessary nutrients to keep your dog healthy. But, for dogs with allergies, multivitamins are a great source of probiotics and vitamin C which help:
- Protect and nourish your dog’s itchy skin
- Improve gut and digestive health to combat food allergies
- Boost their immune system to fight off infection
Allerimmune chews are a safe option to help relieve symptoms in your pet. Allerimmune chews contain a combination of healthy probiotics like omega-3 fatty acids. These ingredients support pets with sensitive skin and seasonal allergies.
Fish (salmon) oil
Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids — essential fatty acids that promote gut health and boost your dog’s immune system. Fish oil supplements typically come in a liquid or chew form, and are a great addition to their dog food.
Hypoallergenic diets and food trials#
Supplements can help if your dog suffers from environmental or seasonal allergies. But what if your dog has an underlying food allergy? Food allergy testing is possible, but it's often expensive for pet parents.
To determine if your dog has a food allergy, try a hypoallergenic diet or food trials. These diets can take two or three months to start working. Watch your pet for a few months to see if their symptoms resolve.
Keep in mind, changing your dog's diet plan for only a few weeks will not resolve your dog's symptoms. Don't give up if you don't see a noticeable difference right away and instead track any progress or improvement.
If you’re looking for a quick fix in a pinch, you can often find allergy relief in your own cupboard. Aside from allergy medicine, natural remedies can help symptoms from your dog's allergies.
Treating allergies with natural remedies doesn't work for every dog. But, it's worth a shot if you want to skip the trip to your vet for prescription allergy medicine.
Explore the most common and helpful natural remedies you can give your dog for allergies.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar’s qualities are helpful for especially dry, itchy skin or reactions from poison ivy. Concoct a mixture of 50% water and 50% ACV to apply to the affected areas. It's important to remember to not use apple cider vinegar on raw or opened skin.
Oatmeal has tons of anti-inflammatory qualities that are great for allergic reactions. Mix ground oats and warm water to create a paste that you can apply to your dog. Spread the mixture on any affected areas to soothe itchiness, but avoid open sores.
Yogurt is a good source of protein, calcium, and probiotics for your dog. All boost your dog's immune system and gut health. Add 1-2 teaspoons of plain, sugar-free yogurt to your dog's food once a day to relieve itchiness from allergies.
Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial properties. Massaging coconut oil onto any affected areas of your dog is best to treat:
- Yeast infections
- Insect bites
You can also add a little to your dog's food to improve their skin and coat.
Chamomile and herbal tea
Herbs and teas are often used in traditional Chinese medicine. The natural qualities of chamomile, calendula, and green tea are helpful in treating hot, itchy patches of your dog's skin.
To treat, place several tea bags in boiling water to steep for 5 to 7 minutes. Then remove them to cool and place the bags on the affected areas.
Pet allergies can be troublesome for pets and pet parents alike. Every pet is unique and has different needs.
Allergy medicines, supplements, and natural remedies are great ways to provide comfort for your dog. Always be sure to talk to your vet before trying any solution to relieving dog allergies.
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