Stories and movies would have us believe that dogs and cats are fated to be enemies forever. But in reality, nothing could be further from the truth! Dogs and cats can be wonderful companions not just to people but to one another, especially if they grow up together and are introduced to each other properly.
And yet it’s still possible for there to be a problem between them. Even though they’re the best of friends, on rare occasions it may be that your dog is in fact allergic to your cat.
How do I know if my dog is allergic to something?
Allergies occur when certain substances, or allergens, trigger the immune system. In dogs, this can present in different ways. It may be that your dog is displaying an allergic reaction if you notice the following:
- obsessive licking
- constant scratching
- skin rash or hives
- hair loss
- sneezing or coughing
- watery eyes
- Inflammation of the face
Anyone of these allergy symptoms could point to an allergy in your dog, and then it becomes a case of drilling down to find out what’s causing the problem.
Once you’ve exhausted all other possibilities and removed all possible allergens from your dog’s environment, if your dog is still showing symptoms of allergies, then it’s time for a trip to the vet’s office.
Can dogs be allergic to cats?
Absolutely. It’ll take allergy testing performed by your veterinarian to be sure, but they may return with news that your cat is the one making your dog itch.
It’s not your cat’s hair causing the problem but their dander. Even more specifically, it’s the proteins in the dander. Dander is made up of dead skin cells naturally shed by your cat, and along with their saliva and urine, all of which contain these irritable proteins, they can trigger an allergic reaction.
Allergies to cat dander are more common in humans than in dogs, but it may be the reason for your dog’s unhappy condition.
What if my cat’s the culprit?
Having discovered your dog is allergic to cats doesn’t mean all is lost. Even humans who are allergic to cats still have them as pets. With a little work and some preventative strategies, you may find everyone can still live together happily.
The most effective way to treat the issue is to regularly bathe and brush your cat. This should preferably be done outside, away from anyone who is allergic, and must be done at least once a week to ensure your cat is free of dander.
Inside the house, vacuum daily to stay on top of hair and dander on furnishings, clothing, carpets, and surfaces. It’s also important to empty the vacuum cleaner after use to ensure you remove as much dander from the house as possible. This is good practice not only for cat dander but for dust mites, too.
An excellent investment for anyone with pet allergies is a vacuum with a HEPA filter. They are fitted with a filter that traps dander and fur and acts as an air cleaner, reducing exposure to harmful substances.
Empty your cat’s litter tray daily, so no dander can accumulate.
Is a cat allergy the same as a dog allergy?
Any animal can display allergic reactions to substances that irritate them. Cats, dogs, and even humans produce dander that can cause irritation. The chances of your cat being allergic to your dog are even rarer than the other way around, but it’s still possible.
Your cat may have food allergies, causing vomiting and diarrhea. They may also develop seasonal allergies to pollen, and be sensitive to such allergens as mold spores or dust particles.
Cats’ allergies may be triggered by perfumes or chemicals that irritate them, and if this is the case, then they will display the same allergy symptoms as those of your dog’s, including itchy skin, runny eyes, and coughing. They may also have swollen paws or display irritation on their back or tail.
If your cat displays any of these symptoms, they should see a vet or an animal allergist for a proper diagnosis.
How do you treat a dog with cat allergies?
Following the above steps is a great start toward dealing with your dog’s cat allergy, but your allergic dog may need direct treatment of his own.
One method, perhaps surprisingly, is to subject the dog to doses of immunotherapy. This means deliberately exposing the dog to the substance that causes his allergy so that over time he will build up antibodies. While immunology treatment is considered by many to be effective, regular trips to the vet can prove costly.
Topical treatments directly to the body can help reduce the itchiness, redness, and irritation that stem from dog allergies. Bathing them in a hypoallergenic shampoo or using a medicated spray can reduce the need for them to scratch. Your vet can help advise on the best products for your allergic puppy.
In severe cases, especially if a dog develops breathing problems or appears to be wheezing, your vet may prescribe an antihistamine drug called diphenhydramine, known in the United States as Benadryl. Not all antihistamines are safe for your dog, though, so be sure to seek the right advice.
Another effective way of reducing the effect allergies from your cat may have on your dog is to improve their skin barrier.
While their allergies may mean irritation in their nose or mouth, they are more likely to shows signs of allergic reactions on their skin. Despite their coats, dogs have surprisingly sensitive skin. For those dogs who suffer from a pet allergy, it’s often because they have absorbed more allergens through their skin, so by strengthening the skin barrier, the animal is better prepared to fight his pet allergy.
Fatty acids added as a supplement to his food and a specially crafted shampoo ensure your dog’s skin barrier is reinforced on both the inside and the outside, leaving him with lower allergen levels in his bloodstream.
Do pet allergies go away?
Whether or not dogs will suffer from dog allergies is mostly genetic. But studies have shown that consistent and managed exposures to allergens will help reduce your dog’s allergies in the long term.
You may find that your dog displays allergies as a puppy, but soon grows out of them without the need for treatment, in the same way, that children too can eventually grow out of their allergies.
With a combination of the right information, good household management, and effective treatments such as medication and immunotherapy, you should discover your dog finds much relief from his allergies.
In some extreme cases, however, your dog may have such strong reactions to cat allergens that he shows no response to any measures you take, no matter how hard you try.
It may be that you keep your animals completely separate, living in different areas of the house. Failing that, you may have to separate them permanently, finding another home for one of them. Such cases are extremely rare, though, and should only be considered a final solution to the problem.
Both dogs and cats make wonderful pets so we hope that these tips and remedies can ensure you have many wonderful years with your animals!