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Supplements for Dog Allergies

Allergies are among the most common health issues for dogs of all ages and breeds, but that doesn’t make it any easier to watch your pet itch and scratch or experience  an upset stomach or other allergy symptoms. When used correctly, allergy supplements for dogs can help relieve your pet’s discomfort and become part of their complete allergy management routine. 

What can I give my dog for allergies?

There are many options for the daily management of allergies in dogs. Over-the-counter medications, like Benadryl, Claritin and Zyrtec, are typically fine to give dogs every day once the dosage is approved by your veterinarian, as are most dog allergy supplements. Many allergy chews for dogs, for example, are specifically formulated for daily use. Many allergy shampoos can be used regularly as well to help address signs of discomfort and can be used more frequently than is usually recommended for regular shampoos. Most veterinarians will recommend bathing up to two to three times a week with a special allergy shampoo for pets experiencing severe symptoms.  

Does my dog need allergy supplements?

If your dog has itchy, red skin, swollen paws, irritated eyes or nose, or diarrhea or vomiting, they may benefit from allergy supplements for dogs. Supplements won’t fix the root cause of the allergy, but they can help relieve the symptoms. 

If your pup suffers from allergies that are difficult to control—environmental allergies that worsen at certain times of year, for example—you may not be able to eliminate the allergen. Supplements are a popular option in these cases. Some dog allergy supplements are formulated for specific symptoms. Dog supplements for itchy skin help to decrease inflammation, and probiotics can help dogs with gastrointestinal symptoms.  

Some of the best allergy supplements for dogs can even have positive effects on pups who don’t have allergies. Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, for example, can also help support a healthy immune system. 

When should I give my dog allergy supplements?

It often takes time to determine the cause of a dog’s allergies. You may need to take them to the vet for allergy testing or try a food elimination trial. You can start giving your dog supplements for allergies before you know the root cause if your vet recommends it, but they may not work as well as you hope.  

For example, if your dog has a food sensitivity that’s causing itchy skin, giving them a supplement won’t do much if you’re continuing to feed them the food that causes the allergy. If your dog’s itching is caused by flea allergy dermatitis, eliminating the pests and getting your dog on flea and tick prevention is a better course of action than using supplements.  

Allergies are the body’s immune response to a foreign substance—food, medication, environmental allergens like pollen, and so on. The immune system overreacts and causes inflammation. Skin inflammation can cause itchiness and redness, while gastrointestinal inflammation can cause an upset stomach. Even the best allergy supplements for dogs won’t be at their most effective until the root cause of the inflammation has been determined. From there, you and your vet can decide which supplements may help your dog manage their symptoms.  

Are allergy supplements good for dogs?

Dog allergy supplements are typically very safe. They are often made from natural ingredients like omega-3s, which occur naturally in fish, and probiotics, which already live in your dog’s gut. Keep in mind that if your dog is allergic to fish, omega-3 and -6 fatty acid supplements may worsen their symptoms. Check the ingredient list of any allergy chews for dogs to ensure they don’t contain ingredients that might cause an allergic reaction in your pet. Additionally, always follow your veterinarian’s prescription and directions for over-the-counter medication like antihistamines.  

What are the best allergy supplements for dogs?

While the best allergy supplements for dogs can vary, the right solution for your pet will usually depend on your pup’s symptoms and what is causing their allergies. Here are some of the most common supplements. 

Omega fatty acids

Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are among the most popular natural supplements for dog skin allergies. These long-chain fatty acids play a role in creating cell membranes and regulating inflammation throughout the body, especially in the heart. Because skin allergies typically manifest as inflammation, omega fatty acids can be effective for this symptom. They also help support a healthy skin barrier due to the support of cell membranes.

Omega fatty acids aren’t just allergy supplements for dogs—they’re also commonly given as a supplement for joint health and general skin and coat maintenance. Nearly any dog can benefit from these versatile and vital fatty acids.     

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice in the same plant family as ginger and has been used in Eastern medicine for centuries. The active compound in turmeric is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory that has been studied extensively for its ability to help relieve swelling and pain.  

As a dog allergy supplement, turmeric can help improve both skin and gastrointestinal problems. It also helps support heart and liver health. Pet parents should keep in mind, however, that curcumin has poor bioavailability, meaning the body does not easily absorb it. To make sure your dog gets the full range of benefits, you can find allergy chews for dogs that contain this ingredient. It’s sometimes included in vitamins for dogs with allergies. 

Probiotics

Probiotics are good bacteria that naturally occur in your dog’s gut. They help balance the microbiome, the community of organisms that keep your dog’s digestive tract working regularly. They line the organs, help break down food, create and absorb nutrients and even play a role in the immune system.  

With all these important functions, it’s easy to see how using probiotics as a dog allergy supplement can help pups with gastrointestinal symptoms. Probiotics for dogs can be given long-term to aid digestion and help firm up stool. However, they may also help reduce inflammation and provide immune support—two practical effects for dogs who have allergies. 

Quercetin

Quercetin is a natural anti-inflammatory, antihistamine and antioxidant that’s often called “nature’s Benadryl.” It’s a flavonoid that contributes to plant pigmentation and is derived from plants like kale, broccoli and blueberries. As a supplement for allergies, Quercetin for dogs comes in pills or capsules.   

Because it is an antihistamine, quercetin can be one of the best allergy supplements for dogs with allergies, helping to relieve symptoms like runny nose, sneezing and eye irritation. It may not work as quickly as Benadryl, but regular use is a popular replacement for over-the-counter allergy drugs. 

Digestive enzymes

Digestive enzymes live in your dog’s gut and are responsible for breaking down and absorbing nutrients. When a dog has an enzyme deficiency, they often don’t get the proper nutrients to build skin cells, create sebum and otherwise keep their skin and coat moisturized—which can lead to itchy skin. An enzyme deficiency can also make digestive problems worse. 

You can find these dog supplements for itchy skin in pill or capsule form. Quercetin is often paired with the digestive enzymes bromelain and papain to help increase its bioavailability and provide additional benefits. 

How to choose dog allergy supplements?

To find the best allergy supplements for dogs, you’ll need to shop around. As you look at solutions, compare quality, testing and price. Here are some tips to keep in mind before and while shopping. 

  • Never give human supplements to dogs. 
  • Ask your veterinarian for recommendations first. 
  • Find supplements with clinical or scientific studies to back them up. 
  • Read the label to ensure there are no ingredients that can cause an allergic reaction in your pet. 
  • Find the lot number on the bottle. This means it has been through quality control. 
  • Realize that supplements and vitamins that help with allergies aren’t a cure-all. Your dog may still need prescription medication or other remedies. 
  • Look for great dog deals on health and wellness solutions. 
  • Store supplements properly. Most need to be stored in a cool, dry place, in a sealed container.  

Using dog supplements for allergies is just one way to help keep your pup healthy and happy. Proper nutrition and exercise can play a part in strengthening your dog’s immune system and fighting off allergies. Read our new dog guide for information about taking a holistic approach to your pet’s health and remember that your veterinarian is always a great resource.  

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Reviewed by Dr. Whitney Miller, DVM, MBA, DACVPM

As Petco’s Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Miller is the lead veterinary subject matter expert, overseeing the company’s standards of excellence in animal care and welfare, growth in pet services and much more. Dr. Miller leads Petco’s medical team, supporting over 200 full-service hospitals and mobile vaccination clinics operating in over 1,000 Petco Pet Care Centers nationwide