Carolinas Animal Hospital

Dog and Cat Allergic Reactions: Pet First Aid

Dog and cat allergic reactions vary from common and mild to rare and emergent. First aid for a dog or cat can be an important thing to be familiar with because of the wide range of allergens and possible reactions in our typical environments. Let’s start by looking at some of the most common causes of allergies.


Dr. Olson cuddles a cat patient who is thankful for some relief.

What kinds of things are dogs and cats allergic to?

  1. Food is a common source of allergens and mostly sensitivities.
  2. Products like shampoos, perfumes, household cleaners, etc.
  3. Environmental allergens such as pollen, dust mites, etc.
  4. Insect stings.

If you suspect your pet is having an allergic reaction:

First thing’s first: if your pet seems weak, lethargic, is vomiting repeatedly, or has trouble breathing, call your vet and take your pet as soon as possible. Thankfully, though, most reactions will not be emergent, but they will still require some treatment of symptoms.

Allergy Symptoms

Usually, food allergies will present as itchy skin, yeasty skin and ears, etc. as will pollen or grass allergies. For these types of allergies, always take your pet to see your veterinarian so you can learn the trigger, steps for prevention, and the best treatment methods for your dog or cat. Unaddressed, these allergy symptoms usually progress to become increasingly serious. Learn more from our article “Allergies Affect Dogs and Cats Too!

When a pet has a reaction to shampoos, detergents, etc., the most common reaction to notice is hives on the skin. It is less common, but possible, that they could also develop more scary symptoms too, like a tightening of the airway.

For bee or wasp stings, immediately try to remove the stinger/sac that is left behind by bees. If the sting is in the mouth or throat, immediately take your dog or cat to your vet as swelling may block the airway.

Remember that Benadryl in Your First Aid Kit?

For both of the above situations, it might be okay to give your dog or cat the antihistamine best known as Benadryl (diphenhydramine). Call your vet FIRST. Not only is it crucial to get the dosage correct for your pet, but you must consult your veterinarian because of the potential dangers of giving your pet medications if they are already on other meds or have preexisting conditions to consider. They could react poorly and make a bad situation worse!

Our Best Tips for Dealing with Allergies

  1. For chronic allergies, prevention and maintenance are the most important things you can do to keep your pets comfortable. Work with your vet to determine the cause and how best to alleviate symptoms safely when your pet has flare ups.
  2. Be familiar with symptoms of more acute reactions. If you are unsure about anything or have any questions, call your veterinary office. We are happy to help.
  3. If you suspect that there is even a chance you have an emergency on your hands, call your vet right away!


  • Monday: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Tuesday: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Wednesdsay: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Thursday: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Friday: 7:30am - 5:30pm
  • Saturday: 8:00am - 12:00pm
  • Sunday: Closed

Get in Touch