Disclaimer: Our content is always reviewed and approved by a professional veterinarian. However, we recommend always reaching out to your dog's vet for any advice regarding your pup.
We all know that a friendship between a cat and a dog is unlikely, but as paw-parents to both pets, there is nothing we want more than to see our fur babies get on well and ideally even become pals! It’s not unheard of!
But there is something that could make this already unlikely friendship even harder – allergies! Yup, although it happens very rarely, it is true that your dog could be allergic to your cat.
Let’s dive a little deeper to help you understand if this is the case for your fur family and what you can do to still maintain a healthy and happy household for all your pets!
Can Dogs Be Allergic to Cats?
Like humans, dogs do experience allergies and can be allergic to felines. The good news is that this type of allergy is quite rare amongst dogs.
The culprit for the allergies is usually dander.
Cats release dander, which is essentially dead skin cells that cats shed regularly to make space for their new skin cells.
Now, there is a specific protein within the dander that causes the allergy in humans and dogs alike. It’s sneaky and completely invisible to our eye but, can get stuck on items in the home such as pillows, bedding, carpets, furniture, wooden floors, the walls and can even just linger in the air.
Is Your Dog Allergic to Your Cat?
We know when a human is allergic to cats because often the allergy will cause itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, and wheezing.
You’re likely now wondering: what are the symptoms of a dog’s allergy to cats? The most common symptoms are:
· Excessive scratching or licking, resulting in red bumps or dry bumpy, skin.
· Excessive sneezing or coughing/wheezing
· Watery eyes and nose
· Nasal congestion
· Ear discomfort
· Unusual odor
· Fur/hair loss
· Swollen or painful eyes
· Inability to relax, frequently waking up from naps and sleeping
Symptoms will likely happen right after the introduction of both pets, so if you’ve just brought a new cat into your home, it might be easy to guess that this is where your dog’s allergies come from.
However, the only way to get absolute confirmation if your dog is allergic to your cat is via a vet allergy test.
How Is a Dog’s Allergy to Cats Diagnosed?
To help your doggo, you will want to first arrange an appointment with a vet, who can determine what is causing the discomfort – and if your cat is behind your dog’s allergies.
The most common method of allergy testing is via a needle, where vets or specialists will insert a tiny bit of the substance they wish to test, in this case, cat dander.
Then, you’ll take your canine buddy home and return to the vet soon after, where they will examine the needle pricks. Some pricks will have healed perfectly which generally means no allergy, whereas others will still be red or swollen. This indicates there’s an allergy to those substances.
The other method to test for allergens is by a blood test, which is also very common.
How Can You Treat Your Dog’s Allergy to Cats?
Once you get the results, it’s time to act. If it is indeed caused by your cat, it can be alarming, but relax! There is no need to get rid of either pet!
Sadly, there is no magic cure for dogs’ allergies. But there are several steps you can take to support your dog and help reduce the impact of allergies.
Firstly, the vet might suggest immunotherapy, which is a drop, oral, spray or needle injection daily to help decrease itchiness, inflammation, and the need for further medication.
There’s another method, that strives to reset your dog’s immune system to fight the allergy. This involves exposing your dog to the allergen, or cat dander, either via a spray, orally, or through injections. The plan here is to awaken the immune system to fight off the allergen.
If you don’t want to opt for any of the “treatments” above, there are also plenty of ways you can help your pup overcome his uncomfortable allergen at home, such as:
1. Clean, clean, clean. You will want to increase your cleaning regiments at home to remove allergens. This will mean vacuuming and mopping more and focusing on carpet and wood where dander can easily get lodged. You’ll also want to focus on popular pet spots like their beds, play toys, and even walls they brush against frequently.
2. Bathing beauties: Bath time is helpful for fur babies! Scheduling regular baths or grooms for your dog and your cat will help remove the irritants. It’s said that fortified shampoo can do wonders for their skin and fur, too!
3. Alone time: It’s helpful to consider time apart for your pets. Hey, everyone needs space sometimes! This can look different depending on your space, but perhaps one of your pets has a designated space for over the night, or you can place a baby gate to separate the animals. We also recommend the pets not sharing toys or beds.
4. Purifier: You may want to consider looking into a pet air purifier that can clean the air and any dander/allergens lingering beyond your eye. Super helpful!
5. No more scratches: While the dog loves to relieve an itch, it can lead to bacteria, yeast, or skin infections so you’ll want to interrupt their extended scratching sessions.
There are quite a few steps you can take to make your dog more comfortable, but it’s important to remember that there is no cure-all or way to get absolutely rid of their allergy. It is something you will all get used to living with!
Some vets may take the more extreme suggestion of re-homing one of your pets if the allergy is very extreme. This is certainly a case-by-case scenario and hopefully, one you will never have to face!
If your dog has an allergy to your cat, don’t count the relationship out right away.
There are many steps you can take as a paw-parent to manage their relationship to minimize your dog’s allergy flaring.
It will take a lot of consistency and a lot more cleaning but it’s very possible to make it a happy, healthy home for both your fur babies. And who knows, maybe they’ll even become friends!