Children's Allergies to Dogs

Adults develop allergies more often than children, but children can also have negative reactions to different environmental factors. Children's allergies to dogs are due to dog saliva, dander and hair to a lesser extent. The allergies may be managed with medication, but the constant administration of drugs may not be healthy for children. The allergic reactions can be controlled with a few cautionary measures, and there are also allergy shots that may be more effective than medication treatment.

Causes of Children's Allergies to Dogs

Children love dogs, and if there is a dog in the house, he will be very likely your child's favorite playmate. Extended exposure to the dog will result in allergic reactions in children with immunity problems. Healthy children will not be allergic to dogs. The allergens produced by dogs include:

  • Dander, which is the main culprit allergen, containing a protein that can make the immune system react negatively
  • Saliva, which contains the same protein in a reduced percentage
  • Urine, containing the same protein
  • Dog hair, which is not the major allergen as thought, but may contain dander particles or dust mites which cause allergic reactions

Symptoms of Allergies in Children

Just like adults, children with allergies may have various reactions to dog allergens including:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Skin rashes or bumps
  • Itchy skin
  • Eye and nasal discharges (clear, watery discharges)
  • Swelling of limbs or face
  • Anaphylactic shock, in rare cases, but this condition requires a trip to the emergency room, as the respiratory ways will be constricted and the child may not be able to breathe

Treatment Options

If the child develops an anaphylactic shock, he needs to receive an epinephrine shot immediately. Epinephrine will relax the muscles and allow the child to breathe normally. If your child has developed this reaction, you need to carry an epi-pen with you whenever the child is exposed to a dog and administer the shot when the first signs of anaphylaxis occur.

The medications that are available for allergy management are antihistamines and steroids. Steroids should only be administered if the symptoms are severe. The administration of these medications may have side effects, and these are not a solution if the child is constantly exposed to the dog.

Allergy shots can be an effective allergy treatment and more than 80% of children respond well, developing immunity to the allergens.

Children's Allergy Management

Ideally, a child allergic to dogs should avoid being with dogs. There are a few measures you can take to reduce the allergic reactions in your child, in addition to the injection or medication treatment:

  • Neuter the dog, as the hormones increase the amount of glycoproteins produced and secreted
  • Keep the dog out of the child's bedroom
  • Teach the child to wash his hands after each play session with the dog
  • Bathe the dog with a hypoallergenic shampoo
  • Give the child immune system support supplements
  • Ensure your dog doesn't have dry skin (fix his diet or change the shampoos and soaps used)