Dog with sad eyes due to allergy lying down on the floor

How To Pick The Best Dog Allergy Medicine

Does your dog have allergies? If your beloved pet suffers from seasonal irritants, here’s everything you need to know about dog allergy medicine.

April 07, 2022

If you own a dog, chances are high that you love your furry friend. Beyond companionship, comfort, and a soft shoulder to cry on, you want to ensure their health and safety, including which dog allergy medicine to use if your pup deals with seasonal or year-round irritants.

We’ll walk you through the basics and talk about the best pet allergy treatment.

Disclaimer: This article isn’t intended as professional healthcare advice. If you have concerns about your pet’s health or medicine dosage, consult your veterinarian.

What are allergies, and how do they affect people and pets?

In humans, allergies occur when your body’s mast cells — a type of white blood cell — come into contact with known allergens. Inside these white blood cells, there’s a chemical called histamine, which is part of your body’s immune system response.

Histamine receptors are triggered upon contact with an allergen, provoking a reaction as your body tries to expel the foreign substance. Sometimes, this reaction goes overboard, resulting in anaphylactic shock. When you take an antihistamine, it stops the histamine release in its tracks by blocking the receptors. Using allergy meds this way reduces your symptoms — even if they’re mild.

In dogs, white blood cells (and the histamine within them) react this way, too. But what causes allergies in dogs? Are they the same as the allergies that humans have?



What are dogs allergic to?

Dog’s allergies, like ours, have a few consistent triggers, including environmental factors, food, and fleas.

1. Environmental allergies

Dogs can be susceptible to seasonal irritants that cause a histamine-based reaction. This surge of seasonal allergies occurs during spring and summer with the proliferation of grass, tree, and weed pollen. Chemical solutions, pollution, and non-seasonal allergens like shampoos, dust mites, mold, and mildew can trigger your dog’s allergies, too.

2. Food allergies

What your dog drinks or eats can induce a histamine reaction. Some big triggers for dogs include chocolate, wheat, and eggs. But you may be surprised to learn that some sources of allergens include beef, chicken, and lamb, common proteins that you might think your dog could handle. The best dog foods on the market take these allergens into account to keep your pup safe.

3. Flea allergies

Fleas are a significant source of allergies among dogs, but an allergy to fleas is slightly different from a reaction to a bite. Bites can be irritating, but with an allergy, the dog has an immune system response to the saliva deposited by the flea.

Don’t know how to spot an allergic reaction in your dog? Here are some common symptoms to watch your dog for:

  • Chewing at feet and legs

  • Hives

  • Itchy ears

  • Licking or scratching at the infected area

  • Rubbing its body against a hard surface (like the floor) to alleviate the itching

  • Sneezing

  • Swelling

  • Dry cough


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What allergy medicine can I give my dog?

You may have some anxiety before administering over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medicine for dogs. You might be wondering, “What is the best antihistamine for dogs, and are there any side effects?” Or, you could be thinking, “How much allergy medicine can I give my dog?” If you’re unsure, you can consult your veterinarian first to ensure you give your pet the correct dose and administer the medicine properly. 

Allergic reactions can happen unexpectedly, and you may not have prescription medications on hand. In this case, you can look at other OTC allergy supplements that humans use. We always urge caution with this method, so monitor your dog carefully if you choose to give them a dose of antihistamines. Check the list below for potential allergy medications you can use to help relieve your dog’s symptoms.

1. Antihistamines

Antihistamines are the most common OTC solution for quick allergy relief. Safe-to-use antihistamines include Benadryl (Diphenhydramine), Zyrtec (Cetirizine), and Claritin (Loratadine). 

We recommend using these allergy medicines cautiously and understanding these guidelines: 

  • Don’t use any OTC antihistamines that have an added decongestant, as they’re not safe for dogs.

  • If you plan to use Benadryl for dogs, phone your veterinarian and consult them for the proper dog Benadryl dosage. The same advice applies to all other medications, especially related to your dog’s type, size, and individual health concerns. 

  • Antihistamines can make your dog hyperactive or tired.

2. Steroid creams, gels, and sprays

These OTC supplements can provide itch relief when applied to dermatitis, rashes, or skin infections. The bad news? They can slow down the natural healing process. 

Always make sure to clean the affected area before application. Cover the affected area afterward, so your dog doesn’t lick the steroid cream, gel, or spray. Call your veterinarian after a few days if the treated area shows no sign of healing. 

3. Artificial tears

Dogs’ eyes can be affected by different types of allergies, resulting in itchy skin, squinting, and excessive blinking. Their eyes can also show allergy symptoms if they come into contact with dust.

To alleviate the dryness or flush out the dust, you can use a small dose of artificial tears to moisten your pet’s eyes. If the dog continues to blink or its eyes are red with discharge, make sure to see the vet immediately because your pet could have an eye infection. 

4. Topical creams

You can use topical antibiotic ointments (not corticosteroids) to alleviate irritation from hot spots and minor scrapes. Using a small amount of Neosporin is typically safe, but make sure your pet doesn’t ingest it. 

Clean the wounded area before applying any cream, and cover it up afterward.



When should I consult with my vet?

If you want to clarify dosage or how to administer allergy medicines, consult your vet beforehand. We want to add a few more disclaimers to help you understand when you should talk to the pros: 

  • While the OTC medications listed above can be safe, they’re not a panacea for pet-specific meds.

  • Some forms of irritant relief, like allergy shots, must be administered by a veterinarian.

  • It may be difficult to flag what’s causing your pet’s symptoms and diagnose the problem yourself. This is where professional allergy testing. 

  • Be self-aware of what problems you can fix and those you can’t. Asking for help prevents further deterioration of your pet’s health.

  • Always consult your vet about OTC allergy or anti-inflammatory medications if your dog is already taking supplements for a pre-existing condition. The two drugs may negatively interact.

  • Never assume that all OTC medications are safe for your dog to use. 

If you’re worried that you gave your pet the wrong medication or you gave them too much, immediately contact your veterinarian. Symptoms of a medicinal overdose in dogs include:

  • Agitation

  • Bloody urine

  • Diarrhea

  • Vomiting

  • Constipation

  • Lethargy

  • Over-salivation

Pamper your pup

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