Dog Hair Allergy Symptoms

Hair allergy is a problem that affects some dog owners and causes a variety of symptoms. Despite their allergy, most allergic dog owners still want to keep their pets. Here's a look at the causes of an allergic reaction, the symptoms of dog hair allergy and what steps you can take to obtain relief from your symptoms.

How an Allergic Reaction Occurs

When an allergic reaction occurs, your overactive immune system is the cause. Your immune system perceives an allergen as a threat to your overall health, and it mounts a defense against it. This defense comes in the form of the chemical histamine, and it causes a variety of reactions in your body, including hives, skin itching and redness, diarrhea and vomiting. In extreme cases, high histamine levels can cause problems with swallowing and breathing as tissues in your throat swell.

Reducing the histamine levels in your body helps alleviate the allergy symptoms. To do this, most physicians recommend antihistamines as part of an overall allergy control program. Antihistamines help relieve itching, reduce skin redness and swelling, and alleviate digestive system distress.

What Causes Dog Hair Allergy

Hair allergy is a fairly common complaint among allergic dog owners, but it's a misconception. Canine hair allergy is actually an allergy to a protein called Canis familiaris allergen 1, or Can f 1, which is present in your dog's dander and saliva.

Signs of a Dog Hair Allergy

If you have a dog hair allergy, you probably won't have an allergic reaction to dog dander and saliva the first time you're exposed to them. Allergies require consistent exposure over a long period of time to develop, so it will likely take a few years for your allergy symptoms to show up.

Symptoms of a dog hair allergy include facial itching, reddened eyes, sneezing, wheezing and a runny nose. Since saliva is a main component of dog hair allergy, sensitive people may develop skin irritation or redness if they are licked by a dog.

Steps to Take to Get Relief

Consult your physician if you suspect you have a dog hair allergy. He or she can prescribe medication, such as tablets, nose sprays or eye drops to help relieve your symptoms, and together you can create an allergy treatment plan. In severe cases, a series of allergy shots to desensitize your immune system to dog dander and saliva may be required to effectively treat the problem.

Part of the plan should include a thorough housecleaning routine, which includes scrupulous daily vacuuming, especially of carpets, draperies and upholstered furniture. Use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter in your home's climate control system, and consider installing a HEPA air cleaner in your bedroom or in rooms in which your dog spends most of his time. This will help to remove as much dander as possible from your home environment. Set up your bedroom as a dog-free allergy sanctuary to give your body a chance to rejuvenate each night during sleep.

Thorough dog grooming should also be part of your treatment plan. Your dog should be bathed weekly, brushed daily and treated regularly with an allergen-reducing spray. Follow label instructions carefully in order to obtain maximum benefit from this product.