Over the Counter Cat Allergy Medication

Cat allergy medication is often prescribed by your veterinarian, but there are times when an over-the-counter medication may help solve your cat's allergy problem. Consult your veterinarian for additional advice and dosing instructions regarding over-the-counter medications after you review this brief overview of what the different types of allergy medications do to help reduce or eliminate allergy symptoms.

Antihistamines Can Solve Many Allergy Problems

Most of your cat’s allergy symptoms are caused by her immune system producing excess histamine in an attempt to fight off the offending allergen, which her body sees as a threat. Histamine causes skin redness, itching, swelling and digestive system problems, including diarrhea and vomiting.

Up to 70 percent of allergic cats can be treated successfully with antihistamines alone. Treatment success improves when antihistamines are combined with other therapies, such as fatty acids or biotin.

Antihistamines counteract the effects of histamine to soothe irritated skin, relieve itching, reduce swelling and settle digestive upsets. Common over-the-counter brands that are safe for use in cats (in appropriate doses) include:

  • Benadryl
  • Chlor-Trimeton
  • Tavist
  • Zyrtec

Your veterinarian may be able to recommend generic equivalents and offer dosing instructions based on your cat’s weight.

Common side effects of antihistamines include:

It may be necessary to try more than one brand of antihistamine in order to find the appropriate medication for your cat.

Topical Products Can Soothe Skin

Topical products, such as sprays or creams, can help soothe your cat’s irritated skin by reducing itching, which can help your cat’s skin begin to heal. Some of these products contain hydrocortisone, which is a steroid that helps reduce swelling. Other products use tea tree oil or other ingredients to eliminate the itchiness from your cat’s skin.

Cool water baths can also help your cat’s skin feel better, and your veterinarian may recommend regular shampooing as part of her overall allergy relief plan. Some shampoos help clean a cat’s coat so the number of potential allergens she’s exposed to is reduced, while others help soothe irritated skin and reduce the potential for itching. Special baths of colloidal oatmeal or other skin-soothing ingredients can also help relieve your cat’s itchy skin.

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplements Help Remove Histamines

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, are often recommended by veterinarians as a way to help your cat’s skin recover from allergy attacks. These acids help relieve both the levels of histamine and its effects in your cat’s body. Positive results should be evident after several weeks of daily supplements.

Vitamin Supplements Help with Itchy Skin

Your cat may benefit from vitamin supplements since vitamins A and E can help improve her skin condition. Ask your veterinarian for advice on adding vitamin supplements to your pet’s diet.

One particularly effective vitamin is biotin, a B complex vitamin that helps improve dry, itchy feline skin caused by allergies. Biotin is available as a powder that can be sprinkled over your cat’s food each day. It is especially effective when used in conjunction with fatty acid supplements.