Can Stress Cause Canine Hives?

by Rose
(Vacaville, CA)

Our French Bulldog, Lily is 1 1/2 yrs old and we just got a 6 mo. old Shih Tsu, Bezou. We hoped they would be playmates and they do seem to play well, but the Frenchie seems to be guarding (to the extreme) both food dishes and just very bullying of the little Bezou (who thinks she is much larger than she is).

Today, only their third day together, and Lily has broken out in dog hives all over her body. She has had hives before, which we thought was caused by a food change, and the vet gave her bendryl and a steroid and got rid of the food we felt was the cause. This time the only change is a new puppy,

I think she is just so stressed having another dog around that it is causing her to get hives. Could this be the reason and will we have to get rid of our new puppy? We are already totally in love with her but we don't want Lily to suffer. I'm hoping time will be our friend and Lily will begin to relax, but is it too late to bring in a new puppy since Lily has been alone and a Princess since we got her at 6 weeks old. I really thought she would love to have a playmate but maybe not.

Please give me any advise you can. We do have her back on the benedryl again and she seems to be getting relief.

Thank you,


Suggestions from our Vet Regarding Dog Hives related to stress caused by a new puppy being introduced into the home

Hello Rose,

Yes indeed, stress can be a contributing factor in the development of dog skin hives, but so can almost anything else – allergies, heat, cold, touching the skin, etc. I suspect that with time and a little work on your end, Lily will become less stressed and her hives will be a thing of the past. With the addition of a new dog to the house, do what you can to keep Lily’s life as “normal” as possible. Give her lots of one on one attention and breaks from Princess if she seems to want them.

Also, feed the dogs separately and pick up any remaining food when they’re done. If you continue to see behavioral issues between the two dogs after they have had a chance to get used to each other, make an appointment with a veterinary behaviorist. You should be able to manage these two personalities without having to “get rid” of anybody.

If Lily continues to have hives, your veterinarian could put her on prednisone for several months to try to “reset” her immune system and then gradually reduce the dose over another month or two.

Good luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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Nov 21, 2020
Stress hive at vet
by: Anonymous

My 18 month old timid rescue pup, Smudge, has completely bonded with my older dog, Sokki, and follows her everywhere. I brought Smudge with us when Sok had a vet appointment. We were walking around in front when the tech came out and took Sok inside. Smudge got nervous and tried to go inside after her. We sat on the bench by the door and I watched as the hives started popping up. They got worse the longer we waited. Techs came by to say hi and commented on them, the vet came out to tell me about Sok and she saw them, too. Stress hives. They didn’t go away very fast. 3 days later you can still see some bumps. He’s had hives before, thought to be an allergy, but he never seems itchy. Maybe they’ve always been stress and not allergy?

Editor Comment

It's possible that Smudge's hives could be due to stress, given the circumstances you've described. This type of response is called a psychogenic physical symptom, where emotional or mental factors result in physical symptoms. However, while stress hives can happen, they are not as common in dogs as in humans.

Generally, hives in dogs are a reaction to an allergic trigger, such as a food allergen, insect bites, certain medications, or environmental factors like pollen or dust mites. However, it's unusual for hives to last several days. Typically, hives due to an allergic reaction subside within 24 hours.

I'd continue to work with your veterinarian to see if there is a physical cause.

Nov 18, 2014
by: Anonymous

I'm so glad I happened on this site. Our Boston terrier, 6 yrs old also broke out in hives after we brought in a new puppy, another Boston female. After eliminating anything that could have changed, I did change his food to an all natural, a new rubber toy, new sweaters and after someone's suggestion that I launder the new sheets I got, it was a mystery. I do believe it was the puppy. He is now over them. I had him on Benadryl for about 3 days. It has been almost 2 days and he hasn't gotten any hives. Since he wasn't eating, I made him hamburger and rice, and he gobbled it up. I think the special treatment helped him feel better. He lets her sleep next to him now. I think he's coming around and eventually he'll be happy she's here.😊

Dec 01, 2013
Hives caused by stress
by: Anonymous

We just went to our daughter's house for Thanksgiving. We took our French Bulldog, Gus, with us. Our daughter has a Weimeraner. The dogs get along fine, but Gus always seems to break out in hives. I thought they were caused by allergies, but I noticed that as soon as we got home they totally disappeared. The same thing happened the last time we left him at the kennel. He looked great when we left and he was covered with hives when we picked him up. I'm beginning to think it's more related to stress rather than anything else. He is always with us except when we go on a cruise or someplace that wouldn't be appropriate for a dog.

Because of his allergies, which were discovered through tests, he is always on prednisone and he gets bathed once a week. That's why I think the new hives are brought on by stress.

Having watched all of Cesar's "Dog Whisperer" shows, the best way to introduce a new dog into your family is by first taking your first dog for a nice walk. When you get home, have the new puppy there before you go into the house. Let the dogs get acquainted outside first. Then you as the human goes in the door first followed by your dogs. That way they know that you are the Alpha and the dogs must look to you for house rules and boundaries.

Good luck!

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