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 even simple environmental components, like grass and pollen, for instance, can trigger a reaction in your dog. But what about allergens from 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. In fact, dogs are more sensitive than humans so it’s possible for them to be allergic to anything. So there’s always a chance that a dog could be allergic to cats, resulting in your pooch getting sneezy and itchy whenever a feline is around. Much like humans, feline allergens like dander, saliva, and fur can trigger an allergic reaction in canines. While the severity of the allergic reaction may be different in different dogs, it can get life-threatening in some extreme cases so exercising caution with an allergic dog is always the best course of action.
Keep reading to find out more about feline allergies in dogs and what you can do to help if your dog is allergic to cats.
Allergies In Dogs
Allergies in dogs are essentially the same as in humans. They’re just a reaction to foreign substances in your pooch’s immune system. When a dog is exposed to an allergen or irritant, their body produces antibodies to help fight off the foreign particles. The presence of these antibodies is what causes a dog to itch or sneeze. The process triggers an immune response, causing swelling and irritation to occur which can result in a host of symptoms including skin rashes and hives to vomiting and diarrhea.
However, while it’s quite simple to diagnose human allergies, allergies in dogs, unfortunately, 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 the cause of your pooch’s discomfort. Furthermore, allergies are quite common in dogs of all breeds and backgrounds. Many experts believe up to 20% of all dogs will develop allergies over their lifetime, and the typical time of onset is between 1 and 2 years of age. So the chances of your dog being allergic to at least one component aren’t low.
It is also important to note that genetics play a role in the development of allergies. This means that if one of your dog’s parents had allergies, your dog is more likely to develop it as well. This isn’t certain, but it’s important to consider when determining whether or not you should get a cat if you already have a dog.
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Cats?
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 and not often discussed, it can definitely happen. The allergic reaction is just their immune system reacting to the presence of cat allergens and trying to eliminate the foreign materials. In such cases, your dog is typically reacting to the same things that cause allergic reactions to cats in humans, such as cat dander or fleas. Dogs also often exhibit similar symptoms such as itching, sneezing, and coughing.
Symptoms Of Allergies in Dogs
Symptoms of canine allergies usually tend to be similar no matter what the allergen including fleas, dust mites, and even food. As a result, discerning what’s actually troubling your dog can be very difficult. If you have a dog with allergies, you may notice some or all of the following symptoms:
- 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
While there are other symptoms that dogs with allergies may experience, they can also be signs of other issues such as skin infections and parasites. As such, it’s best to talk to a vet if your dog is experiencing any of the above-listed symptoms.
How To Be Sure If Your Dog Is Allergic
As we mentioned before, 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. It’s also easy to confuse dog allergies with other skin ailments. Improper treatment will only make the allergies worse. Thus, it’s important to leave the job of diagnosing your dog’s allergies up to your vet.
If you notice any signs of an allergy, 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. Your vet can advise you after the diagnosis so that you know what to do from then on. They’ll determine if the course of action is necessary and what the course of medication should be.
Also, check out Can Dogs Get the Flu?
Treatment Of Allergies in Dogs
Leaving an allergic dog untreated could have serious consequences like intense itching, hair loss, and even infections. Some severe cases of allergic reaction could even lead to anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening condition. To prevent this, your dog should be given treatments in order to combat their allergies.
Sadly though, there is no pill to magically fix your dog’s itchiness. There’s no way to completely prevent allergies either. However, this doesn’t mean that there’s nothing you can do. There are medications you can give your pet, physical therapy, and other alternatives. You can also try to minimize their contact with the allergen by changing their diet and/or their environment.
If you find out that your dog is allergic to cats or anything else and you want to help your dog on their road to recovery, talk to your vet and find out what’s best for them. 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, one option that you do have is rewiring your dog’s immune system with immunotherapy. The idea behind this treatment is that it would “teach” the animal’s immune system to produce antibodies to a certain allergen and not react to it. This is done by exposing your dog to small quantities of the specific allergen daily, either by injections or oral medications. If you’re lucky, your doggo’s immune system will start ignoring the allergen. While this process does not guarantee a cure, it may help to alleviate symptoms. On top of that, there’s a slim chance that it may remove the allergy completely. What’s more, it is affordable and is often carried out in the vet clinic.
Precautions To Take at Home
To help your dog suffering from cat allergies, there are a few things that you can do at home:
- Don’t leave an allergic dog alone for too long. They may lick and scratch the itchy area excessively, leading to wounds and infections.
- 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 by restricting them to different portions of your house.
- 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.
- If your dog has been exposed to cat dander, wiping the affected part with a damp cloth may help decrease itching.
- Try teaching your doggo not to scratch or lick themselves by giving them a chew toy. When they start scratching or licking, distract them by saying “no” in a firm tone and offering the toy. As your dog gets used to this exercise, they’ll learn to associate the word “no” with itching and scratching.
Be Careful About Other Underlying Allergies in Your Dogs
So you found out your dog is allergic to felines and tried 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 a case, it’s easy to get frustrated and presume that somehow 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, you can never tell for sure. 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.
To sum it up, the answer to the question “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. And in case your dog shows any signs of allergy, contact your vet and act on their advice. They’ll let you know what the best course of action will be.
Now that you know dogs can be allergic to cats, here are other articles covering dog allergies that you might be interested in.
Is your dog allergic to cats? Or do you have both pets who go along pretty well? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!