Dog Allergy Symptoms in Babies

When babies and toddlers experience dog allergy symptoms, it can be tricky to arrive at the proper diagnosis. Dog allergy symptoms can resemble those of many other conditions, so trial and error may be necessary to help determine the cause. There are steps that can be taken to identify symptoms and choose the appropriate treatment options to keep your baby as healthy as possible.

Dog Allergy Symptoms in Babies

When dog allergy symptoms occur, it is due to an immune reaction to a dog's skin flakes (or dander), saliva, urine or feces. Additionally, animal fur can trap pollen, dust, mold and other allergens, increasing the chance for reaction. When the child comes into contact with these allergens, histamine is released by the immune system, causing a reaction in the body. The following symptoms may indicate a dog allergy:

  • Inflammation of the airways
  • Runny nose
  • Watery eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma
  • Skin reaction, such as hives or a rash

Determining the Cause

In order to determine if dog allergy symptoms are in fact being caused by the presence of a dog, there are several things that you can do. Unlike seasonal allergies, symptoms will occur regularly. Consistency of symptoms can indicate allergies to pets, mold, dust mites or certain types of food. If dog allergies are suspected, you may consider taking an extended family vacation. Pet dander will likely be found throughout the child's environment, so removal of the dog may not make much of a difference in the short term. Likewise, symptoms can persist for weeks after exposure, so the child must be removed from the environment for an extended period of time to help determine the cause of symptoms. If this is not an option, an allergist may be able to help.

Visiting an Allergist

One of the most efficient ways to help determine the cause of dog allergy symptoms is to visit an allergist. An allergist is specially trained to perform and evaluate certain skin tests. Three of the most popular skin tests are:

  • Skin prick test - A possible allergen, dog dander in this case, will be placed on the skin. A series of scratches or pin pricks allow the allergen to enter the skin and any reaction, such as a rash or bumps, will be carefully monitored.
  • Intradermal test - Similar to the skin prick test, except that the allergen is injected directly into the skin. This test is more sensitive, allowing for more clear-cut results, but false-positives may also occur.
  • Skin patch test - Uses a patch to determine skin allergies, and only used when hives or skin rash is the main symptom.

Minimizing Exposure

In order to help alleviate dog allergy symptoms, there are a number of things that you can do, beyond removing the dog from your household. Be sure to perform the following regularly:

  • Restrict the dog to certain rooms, preferably those without carpeting.
  • Install a high efficiency air conditioning filter and change regularly.
  • Thoroughly clean the carpets, furniture, curtains, walls and air vents on a regular basis.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Keep the dog off furniture.
  • Keep the dog out of your baby's bedroom.
  • Wash the baby's hands and clothes immediately after any contact with the dog.