Featured in The Pet Whisperers

Can Dogs Be Allergic to Cats?

If you're considering adding a new furry friend to your home, you may be asking yourself the question, can dogs be allergic to cats?

Once I have a bigger place, I plan on being a multi-animal household. I don't understand people that are "cat people" or "dog people" specifically. They're both great in their own ways! I have a cat right now because my apartment is pretty small and the complex doesn't allow big dogs, but one day I definitely will have both. Dog and cat friendships are just so pure and wonderful to witness!

That got me thinking though... can dogs be allergic to cats? Humans can be allergic to cats, dogs, and all sorts of things, but what about dogs? I don't want to introduce a new dog to my cat in hopes of a forever friendship, only to find out he's allergic to her! That would break my heart! So, I did some research so I would know ahead of time if it was possible, and have graciously compiled it here for your viewing pleasure. 

First of all, what actually is an allergy?

If you don't have any allergies yourself, consider yourself lucky. If that's the case, you might not be familiar with what an allergic reaction actually is. If that's the case, strap on your lab goggles, because we're about to get scientific here. 

When things enter your body, whether it be food, germs, or dust, your body decides if it's normal or abnormal. This is done through millions of antibodies, who attack abnormal things that enter your body to protect you and keep you alive. Sometimes, though, the antibodies will attack something that is not actually threatening you, like pollen or, in our case, pet dander. Dogs' immune systems work very similarly to ours, so they can have allergic reactions to the same things we do.

So can dogs be allergic to cats?

Though a bit more rare than people who are allergic to cats, there are definitely dogs out there whose bodies don't react well to cat dander or saliva. Just like humans, the antibodies will attack the cat's dander and make the dog a little sick whenever he's near your feline friend or one of his/her playthings. Dogs can have lots different kinds of allergies too, not just cats. They can be allergic to pollen, fleas, and yes, even humans! You also may consider the idea that your dog may have a food allergy.

How do I know if my dog is allergic to cats?

If you're wondering, "Can dogs be allergic to cats?" you might already have two furry friends, but have been noticing your pupper acting strange. Over course, all medical issues should be diagnosed by a veterinarian, but there are certain signs that you should look for if you want to have an idea of what is wrong before you take him. These symptoms include:

  • Itchy Skin, Constant Scratching
  • Red or Scabbed Skin
  • Runny Eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Frequent Licking
  • Rubbing Face on Carpet
  • Ear Discharge

There are a few more symptoms, but these are the most common. Pet allergies are pretty much similar to what you'd see in humans, although I don't rub my face on the carpet when my allergies act up. I do rub my eyes though, and that's the equivalent. 

Keep in mind this doesn't mean that your dog is definitely allergic to your cat. As I mentioned earlier, dogs can have many different kinds of allergies, and these will present in the same way as a cat allergy. Your dog might just be allergic to dust mites.

I think my dog has an allergy. What should I do?

First, take him to the vet. I know it can be expensive, and if you're having trouble with finances you should definitely look into if pet insurance is worth it. Can dogs be allergic to cats? Yes, but only your vet can really determine if that's the case or not. 

First, your vet will check to make sure that these symptoms are not from any other disease. The symptoms I listed are also common in dogs with ringworm, fleas, lice, and respiratory infections. So your vet will want to eliminate these as possibilities before moving onto the idea that your pooch has an allergy problem.

Once the vet has determined that it is, in fact, allergies that your dog is suffering from, he will determine the cause.

How does the vet know if the allergy is caused by my cat?

Your vet's definitely not going to be wondering, "Can dogs be allergic to cats?" He knows that they can be. But he can't tell just by looking at your pup if the allergic reactions are from your cat or something else. So, in a test similar to humans, the vet will use a small needle to insert a small amount of allergens into your dog's skin. He'll use multiple different allergens, including cat dander.

After a little while, your vet will examine the areas where he pricked. If your dog is not allergic to something, the skin will look normal. However, if the area becomes red, inflamed, and bumpy, your dog is allergic to whatever was injected there. If the cat dander injection site looks good, you're safe; it's something else. But if it doesn't look too good, you know your dog has a cat allergy. 

How to I treat my dog's cat allergy?

So, if you went into wondering, "can dogs be allergic to cats," and found out yours is, you might be worried. Fear not though, just like people allergies, most dog allergies are treated fairly easily. It is extremely rare to have a dog that is so severely allergic to cats that they can't live with them. None of us want to get rid of a pet because of allergies, and there are plenty of ways that your pets can co-exist with minimal sneezing. 

The main thing is you have to clean your house. A lot. You have to vacuum pretty much every day. This includes not just the carpet, but the curtains, any cat trees, the couch, anything your cat may be interacting with. Also consider getting an air monitor to reduce the amount of allergens in your home, especially if your dog is allergic to dust too.

Your dog AND cat both need to be bathed regularly too. It's hard to bathe your cat, but I promise it can be done with patience and protection. 

Your vet can also prescribe antihistamines, special shampoos, or if you're willing to splurge, allergy shots. These are a series of shots over time that exposes your dog to the allergen in small quantities so that his body learns that it isn't harmful. 

We want the best for our furry friends.

Our dogs' and cats' health is more important to us than anything. We would do anything for them! "Can dogs be allergic to cats?" is a question we ask only to make sure that our animals are happy and healthy. With some persistence and dedication, even if allergies are abound in our homes, we can handle any problems that come our way. Treatment for allergies will be long-term because unless you get those allergy shots, your dog won't be over them anytime soon. But in the end, isn't it worth it to see the two of them all snuggled up together peacefully? 

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