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If your pup has an itch he can't quite seem to scratch, it might be time to help him find some relief with an allergy medicine meant for dogs. It's usually pretty easy to tell if your dog has allergies—scratching, licking, and chewing on paws or other parts of the body is hard to miss. Dogs might also develop runny eyes or noses, or reverse sneezing.
One study even found that dogs can become so stressed out from their itchy skin that they develop behavioral issues (just like allergy-suffering humans can get cranky when their symptoms flare up!). Plus, if they scratch or chew too much, they can develop ear and skin infections, so it's crucial to work with your vet to find a solution for your pup.
Page Mader, DVM and co-owner of Five Parks Animal Hospital in Arvada, Colo., says skin allergies can affect any dog, including many West Highland Terriers and pit bull mixes. But every case is different, so ask your veterinarian to recommend not just the best allergy medicine for dogs, but the best for your dog.
In some instances, over-the-counter (OTC) options can help, particularly with mild cases, according to Mader.
"The benefits of over-the-counter allergy medicine: cheap, readily accessible, and relatively benign in terms of side effects," she tells Daily Paws. "The biggest downside is they're not always going to be effective in the really itchy dog."
Always talk to your veterinarian before trying an OTC medication or supplement to make sure it's safe and to get the dosage right, Mader emphasizes—noting that some OTC products for humans, like ibuprofen, are toxic to dogs. If your pup doesn't respond to OTC options, talk to your vet about prescription dog allergy medication or other advanced treatment options.
To help get your dog some sweet relief from itchy skin, try one of these over-the-counter allergy remedies. Remember, these options may require more time to work and provide full relief for your pup.
12 Allergy Medicines for Dogs
This well-known antihistamine is most veterinarians go-to OTC option. Dogs who take Benadryl typically don't get as sleepy as humans do and tolerate it well, but it's important to check with your veterinarian about the ideal dosage based on your dog's weight. (It's probably different than you'd think—so be sure to check with them before giving it to your pooch!)
Shop now: Benadryl Ultratabs, $7; walmart.com
Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Bites
Give your dog something to chew on—other than her foot! These lamb-flavored bites pack in ingredients like colostrum and astragalus, a root used in traditional Chinese medicine, and salmon oil. The omega-3 fatty acids help with allergies and protect the skin. Plus, the product's probiotics promote digestive health.
Shop now: Zesty Paws Aller-Immune Bites, $26; chewy.com
PetHonesty Allergy Support Supplement for Dogs
A superfood base of carrots, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms blends with other healthy ingredients like salmon oil, probiotics, colostrum, and turmeric. These chews are free of chemicals, GMOs, fillers, sugar, wheat, corn, or preservatives and aim to support the immune system and digestion while mitigating seasonal allergies.
Shop now: PetHonesty Allergy Support Supplement for Dogs, $26; amazon.com
Virbac Allerderm Omegaderm EZ-Dose Packets for Medium & Large Dogs
Veterinarians often recommend Virbac products for patients, including these packets that offer a formulation with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids to promote a healthy coat and vitamins A and E to soothe irritated skin. The liquid supplement is designed for dogs who weigh over 20 pounds.
Shop now: Virbac Allerderm Omegaderm EZ-Dose Packets for Medium & Large Dogs, $28; chewy.com
FurroLandia Allergy Relief Immune Supplement for Dogs
Bacon, anyone? These treats are nothing to sneeze at, combining the legendary flavor dogs love with 14 key ingredients to battle seasonal allergies and their effects, from inflamed paws and swollen faces to hair loss, dry skin, and ear infections—plus probiotics.
Shop now: FurroLandia Allergy Relief Immune Supplement for Dogs, $26; amazon.com
NaturVet Aller-911 Advanced Allergy Aid
If your dog is a finicky eater, try sneaking this powder into their favorite wet food (though for less fussy pups, some users suggest mixing it with water and serving it as a sort of cookie dough!). The veterinarian-developed formula includes several omega-3 fatty acids to relieve itchy skin and natural antioxidants to support the immune system.
Shop now: NaturVet Aller-911 Advanced Allergy Aid, $20; amazon.com
Vet's Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs
Oatmeal is the not-so-secret, gold-standard ingredient for non-prescription allergy shampoos—and this one combines it with essential oils to soothe the skin. Lather your dog with this shampoo and some cool water for quick relief from the insanity of itchiness.
Shop now: Vet's Best Allergy Itch Relief Shampoo for Dogs, $16; chewy.com
Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot and Itch Relief Medicated Spray
Try including OTC topical sprays in your allergy-fighting arsenal, especially when your dog licks so much and creates a hot spot. This spray is designed to reduce itching and heal the wound without removing any topical flea and tick treatments.
Shop now: Veterinary Formula Clinical Care Hot Spot and Itch Relief Medicated Spray, $9; amazon.com
Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner for Dogs and Cats
Skin allergies can lead to secondary infections like painful ear infections—marked by dogs scratching at or shaking their heads—so get proactive and flush them clean. Remove wax and debris with Virbac's cleaner, which also dries the ear canal and replaces stinky odors with a mild citrus aroma.
Shop now: Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner for Dogs and Cats, $18; chewy.com
Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet
You may have heard that omega-3 fatty acids are an incredibly powerful tool for canine skin care, and Nordic Naturals is one of the top brands for fish oil products. This liquid made from wild-caught fish absorbs quickly into the body. Another advantage? Fish oil promotes heart health for a win/win.
Shop now: Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet, Unflavored, $15; amazon.com
PetLab Co. Itch Relief Dog Supplement
This dog supplement from PetLab Co. can help pups experiencing those tell-tale allergy signs: itching, biting, and chewing. These supplements are packed with fatty acids from salmon oil, flaxseed oil, and other ingredients to help nourish dry skin and promote a healthy coat. They also have a targeted mousse to apply directly to the skin to ease itchiness.
Shop now: PetLab Co. Itch Relief Dog Supplement, $37; chewy.com
Earth Rated Dog Wipes
Dogs are allergic to many of the same things that cause reactions in humans, like weeds, dust, pollen, grasses, and mold. So to prevent flare-ups, it may help to wipe them down after they've been outside to help keep allergens off their bodies and out of your home. Fittingly, these wipes are hypoallergenic and the company supports animal shelters and rescue organizations in North America.
Shop now: Earth Rated Dog Wipes, $9; amazon.com