Can Dogs Be Allergic to Cats? What Dog Owners Should Know Before Getting a Cat

Cat and Dog

Allergies are more common than you’d think. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergies are the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the US. More than 50 million Americans have experienced various types of allergies each year. But humans aren’t the only ones who suffer from allergies. Dogs can be allergic to many things too. Certain food and simple things in the environment, like grass and pollen, for instance, can trigger a reaction in your dog.

But what about other animals, like cats? Can dogs be allergic to cats? The simple answer to that question is yes, dogs can be allergic to cats and vice versa. There’s always the chance that your pooch could be allergic to a cat, resulting in a dog that gets sneezy and/or itchy whenever a feline is around.

Allergies in Dogs

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Cats - Dog Allergies
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Like in humans, allergies in dogs are just a reaction to foreign substances in your pooch’s immune system. While it’s quite simple to diagnose human allergies, unfortunately, allergies in dogs tend to be more complex. There are many different types of dog allergies, and the symptoms often overlap. As such, it’s difficult to tell which allergy your dog is actually suffering from. Furthermore, allergies are quite common in dogs of all breeds and backgrounds. So, the chances of your dog being allergic to anything at all aren’t low. Also, allergies are genetic in nature. An allergic dog is basically programmed to make the response of the immune system to the allergen worse.

Kinds of Allergies in Dogs

As mentioned, allergies in dogs come in different types. The following are the main types of allergies:

Skin Allergies

Can Dogs Be Allergic To Cats - Skin Allergies
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Skin allergies or allergic dermatitis is the most common type of dog allergy. More often than not, skin allergies in your dog are caused either by fleas or by different environmental factors.

Flea Allergies

A flea allergy is an allergic reaction to fleabites. Some dogs are sensitive to flea saliva, making them extremely itchy. Their skin may also become red, inflamed, and scabbed. Fortunately, flea allergies are usually easy to see and diagnose. The itch is often concentrated above the tail. You may also notice signs like flea dirt or even the fleas themselves.

Environmental Allergies

Environmental allergens are also one of many things that can cause skin allergies. This is known as atopic dermatitis and is the leading cause of dog allergies. Dust, pollen, fungi, and mold can all trigger such reactions in your dog. However, environmental allergies tend to be seasonal, so your dog may only suffer from these allergens during certain times of the year. Areas that are commonly affected by atopic allergies include the paws and the ears, but other areas are just as vulnerable too.

Food Allergies

Can Dogs Be Allergic To Cats - Food Allergies
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According to WebMD, ten percent of all allergy cases in dogs are food allergies. Common food allergens include meat, dairy, wheat, eggs, and soy. They can result in skin conditions, like hives, swelling and itchiness, and gastrointestinal signs like vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes, you may even observe both skin and gastrointestinal reactions in your dog. Severe cases can also lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal condition.

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Cats?

Can Dogs Be Allergic To Cats - Cat and Dog
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Allergies to cats are widespread among humans. A study has found that 12.1% of Americans over the age of 6 years were sensitized to cats. This is usually caused by the proteins in the cat’s saliva, dander, and urine. However, humans aren’t the only people plagued with this problem. Dogs can be allergic to cats too.

Yes, as surprising as it may sound, dogs can be allergic to cats. Although rare, it can definitely happen.  In such cases, dogs are typically reacting to the same things that cause allergic reactions to cats in humans – dander and saliva. It’s just their immune system reacting to the presence of cat allergens and trying to eliminate the foreign materials.

Symptoms of Allergies in Dogs

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Symptoms of allergies in dogs usually tend to be similar no matter what the allergen is. This is the main reason why it’s so hard to discern what it is that’s troubling your dog. Still, look out for any of these signs in your pup:

  • Constant itching (the main symptom of any allergy)
  • Constant licking, especially over a large area
  • Coat discoloration or hair loss
  • Unusual odor
  • Ear infections
  • Red and/or inflamed skin
  • Scabs and rashes

If you notice any of these signs in your pooch, it’s wise to let your vet know and follow their advice.

What Else Could Cause Allergies In Dogs?

Can Dogs Be Allergic To Cats - Dog Scratching Himself
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It’s hard to know exactly what the cause of your dog’s allergy is. The aforementioned symptoms could be signs of any other allergy. Thus, it’s important to let your vet find it out. If you notice any allergic signs or something similar, contact your vet immediately. They’ll first treat your dog’s itchiness and/or infections and then properly diagnose their allergies. The diagnosis is usually based on clinical signs and the ancestry of the dog. Finding out what the allergen is, usually involves injecting several common allergens into your dog’s skin and then observing changes in the area that was pricked.

Treatment of Allergies in Dogs

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There is no pill to magically fix your dog’s itchiness. There’s no way to prevent allergies either. All you can do is try and manage the symptoms. If you find that your dog is allergic to cats or anything else, sit down with your vet and determine the best combination of therapy for your pooch. Following your vet’s advice is always the best course of action. It’s also wise to ask them whether you should carry an emergency EpiPen or not.

However, what can be done is rewiring your dog’s immune system with immunotherapy. This is done by exposing your dog to small quantities of the specific allergen daily, either by injections or oral medications. With luck, your doggo’s immune system will start ignoring the allergen.

Precautions to Take at Home to Prevent Allergies in Dogs

Can Dogs Be Allergic To Cats - Bathing Dog
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To help your dog suffering from cat allergies, there are a few things you can do:

  • Vacuum your home regularly. Using a vacuum designed specifically for collecting pet hair would be better. Click here to buy one with a HEPA filter that traps both dust and allergens inside.
  • Bathe your dog and cat regularly.
  • Try separating your cats and dogs and restricting them to different portions of your house. This walk-through pet gate with a small pet door might come in handy for that.
  • Consider purchasing an air purifier that can remove allergens from the air. Here’s one that can help remove multiple allergens like dust, pollen, pet dander, etc.
  • Clean the floors of your home frequently to remove dander and fur. We recommend this innovative and versatile broom designed to remove fur from carpets, rugs, hardwood. And linoleum.
  • If your dog has been exposed to cat dander, wiping the affected part with a damp cloth may help decrease itching.

Be Careful About Other Underlying Allergies in Your Dogs

Dog Sniffing Himself
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So you find out your dog is allergic to felines and try to prevent them from interacting with cats as much as possible. But, although you’ve tried your best, your dog is still exhibiting allergic symptoms. In such cases, it’s easy to presume that somehow your efforts were not enough and that your dog is still being exposed to cat allergens. However, that may not be the case at all.

It is very common for an allergic dog to have multiple allergies. So, even if you prevent your pooch from having any contact with cats, they may still show an allergic reaction to a completely different allergen. Maybe it’s something in their food or something in the air. As always, it’s hard to tell. This is also part of the reason why working closely with your vet to find out what allergens are causing your dog discomfort is so important. The vet is sure to help you find out if your dog has any underlying allergies and give you proper advice.

Can Dogs Be Allergic To Cats - Pup and Kitten
Picture Credit: Canna Pet

The answer to the question of “Can Dogs Be Allergic To Cats?” is a yes. Much like humans, cat allergens like dander, saliva, fur, and urine can affect dogs as well. As always, your vet is sure to help you if that is the case. In case your dog shows any signs of an allergy, contact your vet and act on their advice. They’ll let you know what the best course of action is.

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