Do You Have an Allergy to Dogs?

If you are sneezing, have itchy skin and watery eyes, you may have an allergy to dogs. People develop allergic reactions to various substances due to a negative reaction of the immune system that will secret histamines in excess. Research has shown that the allergies in humans are caused by the dander that dogs shed and not by hair, as people would think. Determining if you have an allergy to dogs is important to be able to find a treatment solution.

Common Symptoms of Dog Allergies

The symptoms of dog allergies may vary from one individual to the other, as the severity of the symptoms may depend on a number of factors including:

  • Degree of exposure to dogs
  • How sensitive the immune system is
  • Other medical conditions

Some common symptoms of dog allergies may include:

  • Itchiness (eyes, nose, skin)
  • Cascade sneezing
  • Dry coughing
  • Breathing problems
  • Rashes, redness on the skin

The allergen is the dog dander, which may lodge in your home, if you are a pet owner or you may inhale dander when you get in contact with dogs. The dog dander contains a glycoprotein that affects the immune system and makes it produce histamines in excess. The same glycoprotein may also be found in the dog’s urine and saliva, but typically, the amounts are too low to cause an allergic reaction.

These symptoms may occur at any time, as you may develop allergies at any point in your life. If you have allergies to other environmental factors such as dust or pollens, you are more likely to develop dog dander allergies as well.

Testing for Dog Allergies

The symptoms of dog allergies in humans are similar to symptoms of regular colds or other inhalant allergies, so a physician needs to run tests to see if you have dog allergies or not.

However, you can suspect that you are allergic to dogs if your symptoms are more severe after being with dogs or in an environment where dogs live and shed dander.

There are some medical tests that may be performed to determine the exact allergen.

The intradermal testing is an efficient test that may determine if you are allergic to dogs; in addition to the allergen present in the dog dander, the physician may test you for other common allergens such as pollens, smoke or dust. The test consists of injecting suspected allergens under the skin and observing the skin. If your skin gets red, swollen or there will be rashes in the area injected with the dog glycoprotein, this means that you are allergic to dogs.

Another possibility to determine if you are allergic to dogs is to get a RAST or an ELISA blood test. If the blood sample will display specific antibodies which are secreted in the presence of the allergen, this means that you are allergic to dog dander.

If you display some dog allergy symptoms and you think this may be due to a pet, you should get a few tests and then see what type of treatment can be recommended to manage your allergies.