Dog Dander Allergy Symptoms

A dog dander allergy can be difficult, especially in a country where more than 40 percent of households have a dog. Even without coming in contact with a dog, symptoms may flare because of the dander dogs leave behind. While many dogs are considered hypoallergenic because they don't shed, every dog leaves behind some amount of dander, which can cause a sensitive person to have a reaction.

About Dog Dander

Most people who suffer from dog allergies are not actually allergic to the hair that they shed. They are actually allergic to pet dander, which is basically the flakes of dead skin that dogs shed. This dander can get into your nasal passages just as any other environmental allergen can, causing your body to react.

The body reacts to pet dander because people with allergies have bodies that overreact to environmental stimulus. It's not the actual allergen that causes the reaction but the histamines released in the body to fight the allergen. The histamines battle the allergen just as your body would fight any virus or bacteria, causing the symptoms.

Dog dander can hide anywhere and can last on surfaces for months, so if you are allergic, you must clean everywhere, thoroughly, if you own a dog. Pet dander can also cling to the clothing of their owners and may be tracked into your house even if you don't own a dog.

Nasal Symptoms

The histamines in your body attack pet dander as soon as it enters your body, which is usually through your nasal passages when you breathe. This often causes inflammation of nasal passages as the histamines causes them to dilate and become permeable, hoping to flush the allergen out, which leads to a runny nose and sneezing. The histamines can also cause the smooth muscles in the passages to contract, making breathing through your nose difficult.

This can also cause watery or red and itchy eyes since these passages are so closely related to one another.

Respiratory Symptoms

Some pet dander particles are small enough to get into the lungs, while many get stuck in the throat. This can cause swelling of these passages, which can cause a scratchy or sore throat.

Once the pet dander enters the lungs, it combines with antibodies and causes even more problems. This can lead to difficulty breathing, coughing and wheezing, caused by the inflammation and smooth muscle contractions in those areas as the histamines attack.

If you are extremely sensitive, this can even lead to a rash on your chest, neck or face.

Highly sensitive people will begin to show allergic symptoms in only 15 to 30 minutes as the histamines act quickly. However, people without extreme allergies may not show symptoms for several days, making the cause of the allergies much more difficult to diagnose. If you are experiencing these symptoms, ask your doctor for a skin test. Antihistamines may help reduce symptoms if you don't want to give up your canine companion.