Dog Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

Source – The Spruce Pets

What do you do if you have an allergy to a man’s best friend?

Here’s a summary of what causes dog allergies, how to treat them, and how to limit your exposure.


Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 17 Dec 2021.

Dog Allergies: Causes, Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

Life in a dog-loving country is difficult for someone with dog allergies. A dog is present in about 37 % to 47% of American homes. Dog dander finds its way into areas where dogs have never stepped. According to the National Institutes of Health, every household in the United States has measurable amounts of pet dander.

So, what do you do if you have an allergy to a man’s best friend? Here’s a summary of what causes dog allergies, how to treat them, and how to limit your exposure.

Symptoms of Dog Allergies

Dog allergies have symptoms that are similar to those of any other nasal allergy. They are as follows:

  • wheeze and coughing
  • eyes that are hot and stinging
  • nose that is runny, itchy, and stuffy
  • sneezing

Dog allergies may cause skin responses in specific individuals. When a dog licks them, for example, their skin may break out. Hives on the face or chest may appear in those with more severe allergies. People with asthma and pet allergies may have particularly severe symptoms.

Causes of Dog Allergies

You may have heard that certain dog breeds cause allergy symptoms while others do not or that short-haired dogs are safe while shedding long-haired dogs are not. Experts, on the other hand, argue that this isn’t the case. Two dogs of the same breed may produce very varied amounts of allergen.

The actual issue isn’t with the dog’s hair or fur. People are typically allergic to dander, which are dead skin flakes and saliva and urine. As a result, any dog may trigger an allergic response regardless of how long or short its hair is.

You may be wondering why dog dander affects you so much. Allergy patients have immune systems that are too sensitive. Their systems mistakenly attack innocuous things like dog dander as though they were germs or viruses. Sneezing and watery eyes are just the body’s effort to eliminate or flush away the allergen.

Testing for Dog Allergies

If you have dog allergies, your doctor may do a skin test or a blood test to identify allergen-specific IgE (Immunoglobulin E). Even if you’re pretty confident you’re allergic, it’s always a good idea to test. Some individuals who believe they are allergic to dogs find out not to be. Instead, they’re sensitive to pollen or mould brought in on the dog’s coat from outdoors.

Allergy tests may be helpful, but they aren’t always accurate. If you have a dog, your doctor may advise you to go without it for a time to observe how you react. It may take some time apart to obtain a solid understanding of your symptoms. It may take months for the amount of dander in the home to decrease to a level comparable to a house without a dog.

Treating Dog Allergies

Allergies in dogs may be treated with over-the-counter antihistamines. Your doctor may advise you to:

  • Antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), fexofenadine (Allegra), and loratadine (Claritin), are over-the-counter or prescription medications that inhibit the effects of a chemical that causes dog allergy symptoms. Nasal sprays are available for certain antihistamines, such as azelastine (Astelin).
  • Decongestants are over-the-counter medications that decrease nasal swelling and congestion. Examples include Sudafed and Allegra-D.
  • Allergies are treated using nasal steroids, which are sprays that reduce allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation. Over-the-counter sprays such as budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy), fluticasone (Flonase), and triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24HR) are available while others need a prescription.

For individuals with dog allergies, allergy injections are another alternative. They are not effective for everyone, and completing a complete course of treatment may take years. However, they may be very beneficial to specific individuals who suffer from pet allergies. Discuss the benefits and drawbacks with your doctor.

Your Environment and Dog Allergies

Although medication may help, most allergists believe that avoiding contact with dogs is the best approach to manage dog allergies. Here are some suggestions:

  • Keep your distance. Do not pet, kiss, or touch a dog. Avoid visiting houses with dogs as much as possible. If you have to stay in a home with a dog, ask if it may be kept out of your room for a few months before you arrive.
  • Use your medicine. Start taking your medication a few weeks ahead of time if you know you’ll be in touch with a dog shortly. You may be able to prevent an allergic response from occurring by taking medicine in advance.
  • Be wary of visitors who own dogs. Dander from dogs may stick to clothes and baggage. Even if your visitors leave their pets at home, they may carry their dander with them, causing you many problems.

Of course, if you already have a dog, some of the following suggestions won’t be very useful. Even so, there are things you can do to help:

  • Clean fanatically. Dog dander may find its way into almost every room. As a result, you should sweep and wash the floors, vacuum the carpets, and clean the furniture regularly. Get a vacuum with a HEPA filter if at all feasible. Allergens pass through regular vacuum filters and are reintroduced into the air.
  • Make your home easier to clean. Raise the carpet. Remove all carpets and draperies. Get rid of the stale, overstuffed furnishings. Your dog’s allergy problems may be alleviated by reducing the number of things that might collect dust and dander.
  • Filter the air. Dog dander may be pushed into every room in your home by central heat and air conditioning, even if the dog isn’t permitted in. Filters on the vents themselves, as well as a central air cleaner, may assist.
  • Keep the dog out of your bedroom. Because you spend a third of your day in your bedroom, it’s critical to keep it free of dog dander. Although a closed-door will not entirely exclude allergies, it will assist.
  • Don’t give the dog free rein. Make other parts of the home dog-free as well to protect yourself. Depending on the temperature and surroundings, you may also try keeping the dog outdoors as much as possible.

Is washing your dog going to help with allergy symptoms? Experts disagree; some studies have shown that baths decrease the quantity of dander in the air, while others have found no change. You may give weekly baths a try and see how they go. Just make sure the bathing is done by someone who isn’t allergic to dogs.

These methods may be beneficial to your dog’s allergies. If they don’t, you’ll have to think about taking more severe steps, such as giving up the dog. It’s difficult, but you must think realistically. People with dog allergies are mistreated if they can’t stay in their own houses without a runny nose and constant sneezing episodes. Asthma is a severe illness that uncontrolled allergies may exacerbate.

So, if you or a family member suffers from dog allergies, get medical advice. Not only will gaining control of your symptoms make you feel better, but it will also help you avoid getting worse.

Sources

  1. https://www.webmd.com/allergies/dog-allergies 
  2. ASPCA website: “Facts about Pet Ownership in the U.S."
  3. News release, Sanofi-aventis U.S.
  4. ACP Medicine: “Allergic Rhinitis, Conjunctivitis, and Sinusitis."
  5. American Academy of Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology: “Tips to Remember: What Are Allergy Shots?" and “Advice From Your Allergist…Pet Allergy."
  6. American Academy of Pediatrics: “When Pets Are a Problem."
  7. Allergy and Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics: “The Real Truth About Cats and Dogs" and “Allergies: Pet Allergies."
  8. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Pet Allergies."
  9. News release, FDA.
  10. UpToDate.com. “Patient information: Allergic rhinitis (seasonal allergies) (Beyond the Basics).”

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