Helping Your Pet Live Longer


allergies in dogs

Holistic treatments will help any itchy dog.

Allergies in Dogs– Holistic Treatments



  • Aloe vera, lavender, or calendula oils on areas of irritated skin.  Note that these may sting if the skin has been damaged by your pet’s chewing or scratching.
  • Aloe Vera/oatmeal shampoos– leave the suds on your pet for 10 minutes before rinsing well with cool water.
  • To treat mild generalized skin infections, you can use a bath consisting of 1 part white vinegar to 4 parts cool water.  Leave in contact for 10 minutes, and do not rinse it off.

ANTIHISTAMINE THERAPY:  Antihistamines are less effective in pets than they are in humans, because the immune systems of our pets don’t use nearly as much histamine as messenger molecules… so ANTI- histamines don’t work as well.  Having said that, they will help some pets, and they are very safe.  Here is what you need to know:

  • Benadryl will help 10-15% of pets, and can be given at a dose of 1 mg per lb body weight twice daily.
  • Zyrtec will help 20-30% of pets, and can be given at a dose of 1 mg per 2 lbs body weight once daily.
  • Yes, these are both high doses when compared to humans.  They are also correct.

is it right for you?

Allergies in Dogs — Drug Therapy

If your pet is severely affected by allergies, prescription drugs will be a huge benefit to them.  

In general, there are four classes of drugs that will help an allergic pet:

  • Effective flea medications
  • Anti-itch oral drugs
  • Antibiotics to control the secondary infection that your pet’s scratching and chewing have caused
  • Topical ointments and shampoos

We’re going to set flea meds aside for right now.  Here’s a brief summary of the most effective drugs to help your pet’s allergies…

ANTI-ITCH MEDICATIONS.  These suppress your pet’s immune system, because a hyperactive immune system is  the source of their problem.  Note that there are disadvantage to using any immune suppressant on a chronic basis, but the short term benefits may far outweigh the long term risks.

  • PREDNISONE — the old standby.  Cheap and effective, but lots of side effects (thirst, panting, hunger, etc)
  • APOQUEL — the new kid on the block– more expensive, but excellent at eliminating itch without notable side effects.
  • CYCLOSPORINE (ATOPICA) — the most potent immune suppressant. A little pricey.

ANTIBIOTICS:  Needed in a majority of cases due to the damage your pet does to their skin by scratching and chewing.  

Note that in severe or recurrent infections, your veterinarian may recommend culture and sensitivity testing to tell exactly what bacteria are present and exactly what the best drug to kill them might be.

  • CEPHALEXIN — cheap, good for mild to moderate infections.  Given orally 2-3x daily.
  • SIMPLICEF– just like cephalexin, but only needs to be given once daily and is thus more expensive.
  • CLAVAMOX–  for deeper or more severe infections.  Given orally twice daily. Can create vomiting/diarrhea.
  • CONVENIA — The new kid on the block, Convenia is a potent antibiotic related to cephalexin that will last for 14 days with one injection.  What this means is it is VERY CONVENIENT for you, and also a little pricey.


  • Antibiotic only — a retail example would be Neo-Sporin
  • Steroid only– a retail example would be hydrocortisone ointment.
  • Antibiotic/Antifungal/Steroid — very effective “shotgun” therapy.
  • Soothing or numbing compounds containing pramoxine.
Dog allergies -- The Drugs your pet needs

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Kevin Toman, DVM