Allergic Reactions to Dogs

About 10% of humans that own a dog develop allergic reactions to dogs. It is falsely believed that dog hair is the main allergen causing the sneezing and the skin rashes; in reality dog dander is the culprit allergen. There is a protein in the dog dander and causes allergic reactions in humans. In rare cases, dog saliva and urine may also cause allergies.

Dog Allergy Symptoms

People have different reactions to dog dander. Most commonly, humans that are allergic to dogs will sneeze frequently and will display rashes on the skin.

Skin itchiness is also common along with breathing difficulties and coughing.

These symptoms are not only active when a dog is present, but may also occur when the allergic person is in an environment where dogs shed dander.

Diagnosing Dog Allergies

Dog allergies may be tested through exposure to allergens or through blood or skin testing.

If you suspect you are allergic to dogs, try to spend a few hours in a clean environment where there is no dog dander. If those hours are allergy symptom free, you have identified the allergen.

Getting a blood test may confirm the fact that you are allergic to dogs. The blood of an allergic person contains certain antibodies that are secreted when in contact with the allergen. The RAST (radioallergosorbent test) and ELISA (enzyme linked immunosorbent assay) tests can detect these antibodies.

Intradermal testing may also give you an accurate diagnosis. A small amount of the suspected allergen is injected under your skin; if a rash occurs on the skin within 6 hours, you are clearly allergic to dog dander.

Treating Dog Allergies

Dog allergies can be managed with antihistamines, steroids or immunotherapy.

The antihistamines and steroids are short term options, prescribed until the allergy shots start to work.

The allergy shots are ideal in managing dog allergies. The shots will be administered over 6 to 12 months and periodical boosters are recommended.

Hypoallergenic Dogs?

The term hypoallergenic dogs must be familiar to allergic people. However, dogs that don’t cause allergies do not exist. All dogs shed dander, which is made up of dead skin cells.

There might be some breeds that may cause fewer symptoms of allergies. Wiry, curly coated breeds or hairless dogs are recommended for people susceptible to allergies.

Tips to Manage Allergies

In addition to the treatment for dog allergies you may also use some tips to reduce the amount of dander in your home and bedroom:

  • Keep your bedroom dander free; lock the door during the day and exclude your dog during the night
  • Bathe your dog frequently; instead you can clean the dog’s skin with a damp cloth, removing the dead skin cells and loose hair
  • Vacuum your home to eliminate the dog dander
  • Use air cleaners
  • Opt for a carpet free home; carpets are the ideal place where dander and other possible allergens pile up

It is possible to live with a canine companion and allergies under the same roof. Get effective treatment, clean your home and keep your dog clean.