This non-steroidal prescription medication earns praise from pet owners and pet care professionals for calming skin allergy symptoms and causing fewer side effects than other commonly prescribed allergy medications. Relieves symptoms quickly. Well-tolerated by most pets.
Not for young puppies or dogs with major infections. Although rare, stomach upset is possible, but tends to fade with repeated dosages.
Commonly prescribed by veterinarians for calming inflammation and soothing skin reactions in allergic dogs. Can help ease breathing difficulties. Small pills are easy to give, and can be broken in half per your vet's approval. Affordable.
Risk of side effects common due to steroid use, including excessive thirst and urination, increase in blood pressure, and weight gain. Dogs with certain health problems shouldn't take it.
Calms coughing and soothes throat irritation caused by allergies to pollutants. Also reduces inflammation, so may be effective at soothing itching skin in some dogs with skin allergies. Small pills are easy to hide in food.
Contains Prednisolone, a steroid that may cause side affects including elevated blood pressure, weight gain, frequent urination and thirst. Isn't recommended for dogs with some health conditions.
Helps promote immunity and ease digestive issues caused by food allergies by rebuilding the number of "good" bacteria in the digestive tract. May firm stools and ease diarrhea in some canines. Easy to give with food. Can be purchased without a prescription.
Like other products in this classification, it may not work for all dogs. In some cases, digestive issues may worsen before they get better after taking it.
Made with natural ingredients like hemp, Butterbur extract, and curcumin that target seasonal allergies and promote healthy digestion. Also contains omega fatty acids that soothe skin. Some dog owners report that this medication calms their pets' need to scratch. Soft chew form. No prescription needed.
Not all dogs like them, but many enjoy the flavor. May initially cause stomach upset that improves once dogs adjust to taking them.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Just like people, dogs can suffer the annoying symptoms of an allergic reaction to environmental or food triggers. But unlike you, your pooch doesn’t have words to express discomfort or ask for help. That’s why it’s so important for every pet owner to be able to recognize symptoms of allergies, and if they occur, to be familiar with treatment options.
Luckily, if your dog is one of the many affected by allergies, there are several treatments available, both over the counter and by prescription from your veterinarian. There are also steps you can take to reduce your pooch’s exposure to potential allergens, which should greatly help relieve the discomfort.
In this buying guide, we reveal what you should know about common canine allergies and dog allergy medications. We discuss prescription meds, over-the-counter (OTC) meds, and what you should expect in terms of price. If you’re looking for recommendations, see our list of top dog allergy medications for ideas.
There are three major causes of dog allergies: fleas, inhaled triggers, and food.
Flea saliva delivered through a flea bite is the most common trigger for canine allergies. Up to 40% of dogs suffer from flea allergy dermatitis, and as few as one or two bites can bring on symptoms. Afflicted pooches will generally bite and scratch at the spot vigorously, further inflaming the area and sometimes even wearing away the fur. The result can be hot spots — areas of reddened, inflamed skin that often weep clear fluid or blood — which can drive your dog to itchy distraction.
Inhaled or airborne allergens are the next most common category, affecting around 15% of dogs. These allergens are also the common cause of hay fever and seasonal allergies in people and include pollens, molds, dust mites, and mildew. While some of these allergens are seasonal, others linger all year long. Unlike allergic humans, who usually develop respiratory symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, runny nose, and runny eyes when exposed to these triggers, allergic dogs generally itch and will scratch or lick themselves in an effort to gain relief.Food allergies are the least common type of allergies in canines, affecting around 10% of dogs. Dogs are most often allergic to proteins, including beef, chicken, lamb, pork, fish, and eggs. Grains can also be a problem for some dogs. Common symptoms of food allergies include frequent ear infections, shaking the head, rubbing the face on the ground, itching, sneezing or wheezing, digestive upset, and foot licking.
There are quite a few treatments for your canine pal’s itchy distress. Some require a veterinarian’s prescription while others are available over the counter. Here are some common choices.
For dogs with severe or persistent allergies, a visit to the vet is required for effective relief with a prescription-only medication. While there are quite a few choices, the following are often prescribed.
Immune-modulating medications don’t simply treat the symptoms of allergies; they actually tackle the problem at the source: the overactive immune system. By suppressing the release of histamine, these medications effectively halt the misery of allergic itching and other symptoms. These medicines can cause digestive side effects, however, including vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
Corticosteroids, often just referred to as steroids, don’t completely stifle the immune response, but they do reduce the inflammation caused by the release of histamine. This helps reduce itching, swelling, and other allergic symptoms. Oral steroids potentially have quite a few side effects, including irritability, increased appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, skin thinning, hair loss, and increased urination. Generally, steroids are only prescribed for short-term treatment of allergies and are not effective against food-caused allergies.
The most common cause of dog allergies is fleabites, so flea control should be an important part of your treatment plan.
For dogs with mild or occasional allergy symptoms, an OTC treatment is often all that’s needed. There are quite a few to choose from.
As the name suggests, these medications work by blocking the release of histamine, thus reducing the inflammation that adds to allergy misery caused by fleas or airborne allergens. While veterinarians occasionally recommend prescription-only hydroxyzine, more often pet owners turn to OTC antihistamines, which can provide quick relief of allergy-caused itching and distress. On the downside, the majority of dogs don’t respond to antihistamines, so if you try two or three without seeing much benefit, it’s time to consider another treatment option.
Fish oil contains large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which have many health benefits, including reduction of inflammation and improved skin and coat condition. There are many brands of fish oil formulated specifically for dogs. While not a cure, fish oil given long-term can help improve a dog’s allergy symptoms.
A type of pre-milk produced by mammals, colostrum contains antibodies and compounds that help reduce inflammation and overactive immune response. Many OTC dog allergy treatments contain bovine colostrum, which helps reduce itchiness in allergic dogs.
Many OTC dog allergy medications contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that live in a dog’s gut, where they help with digestion, immune response, and overall health.
While not a long-term solution, you can give your itchy pooch some quick relief with an OTC medicated spray or bath. These products typically contain hydrocortisone or a similar ingredient that relieves skin irritation and itch along with soothing oatmeal, aloe, tea tree oil, chamomile, or other itch and irritation reducers.
It’s hard to pinpoint a price range for dog allergy medications because there are so many types, both prescription and OTC. As a general rule, you’ll pay less for a generic drug than a brand-name medication. That goes for both prescription and OTC drugs. For example, a generic bottle of Diphenhydramine HCl, which is the active ingredient in Benadryl, can cost as little as $5 for 100 tablets, while brand-name Benadryl might cost $15 for the same amount.
When it comes to itch-and-allergy treatments, expect to pay $20 to $30 for a one- to three-month supply, depending on your pet’s weight.
A. Yes. Although any dog can be allergic, certain breeds are more likely to be afflicted, particularly when it comes to airborne allergens. These breeds include:
A. There are two testing procedures commonly used to pinpoint the triggers of atopic allergies. One is a simple blood test that any veterinarian can order. The more precise test is similar to that used for humans: the veterinarian applies various common allergens to the dog’s skin and watches for positive signs, including redness, rashes, or welts. You’ll need to take your dog to a veterinary dermatologist for this specialized test.
There aren’t any specific tests for fleabite or food allergies.
A. Allergies are not contagious. They are the result of an overactive immune system recognizing an otherwise harmless substance as a threat. This causes the animal’s immune system to release a flood of a chemical called histamine, which boosts blood flow to the areas affected by the allergen, causing inflammation that leads to redness, swelling, itching, and other allergy symptoms.