Skip to content

Allergies Health Center

Select An Article

Dog Allergies

Font Size

For a person with dog allergies, life in a dog-loving country isn't easy. In 2012, 36.5% of U.S. households had a dog. Dog dander gets everywhere, including places where dogs have never set a paw. According to the National Institutes of Health, detectable levels of pet dander are in every home in the U.S.

So, how can you get through life with an allergy to man's best friend? Here's a rundown of the causes and treatments of dog allergies, along with tips on reducing exposure.

Recommended Related to Allergies

Pollen and Allergy Relief

Need some allergy relief? If you have allergies, you know that you can run, but you can't hide from seasonal pollen. With the first deep breath of spring, more than 50 million Americans begin their nearly year-round symptoms of sneezing, wheezing, coughing, snorting, and itching. And millions of allergy sufferers seek allergy relief in prescription medications that cost $6 billion dollars per year worldwide. Let's be honest. If the miserable symptoms of pollen allergies don't push you over...

Read the Pollen and Allergy Relief article > >

Symptoms of Dog Allergies

The symptoms of dog allergies are usually like those of any other nasal allergy. They include:

  • coughing and wheezing
  • red, itchy eyes
  • runny, itchy, stuffy nose
  • sneezing

Some people with dog allergies also have skin reactions. For instance, their skin might break out where a dog licks them. Others with more severe allergies might develop hives on their face or chest. People with asthma as well as pet allergies can have especially serious symptoms.

 

Causes of Dog Allergies

You may have heard that some dog breeds trigger allergy symptoms while others don't, or that short-haired dogs are safe while long-haired dogs prone to shedding are not. But on the whole, experts say that isn't the case. In fact, two dogs of the same breed can each give off very different levels of allergen.

It's not the dog's hair or fur that's the real problem. Instead, people are usually allergic to the dander -- flakes of dead skin -- as well as the saliva and urine. So, no matter how long or short the hair, any dog can potentially cause an allergic reaction.

You might wonder why dog dander has such an effect on you. People with allergies have oversensitive immune systems. Their bodies overreact to harmless substances -- like dog dander -- and attack it as they would bacteria or viruses. The sneezing and watery eyes are just the side effects of the body's attempt to destroy or flush out the allergen.

Testing for Dog Allergies

Your doctor can do either a skin test or a blood test that will detect allergen-specific iGe (Immunoglobulin E) to find out if you have dog allergies. Even if you're pretty certain that you're allergic, testing is always a good idea. Some people who assume that they have dog allergies turn out not to have them. Instead, they're allergic to the pollen or mold that the dog is carrying in on its coat from outside.

While allergy tests are helpful, they're not always conclusive. So if you own a dog, your doctor might want you to try living without it for a while to see how you do. To get a good sense of your symptoms, it might take some extended time apart. It often takes months before the level of dander in the house drops down to a level resembling that of a house without a dog.

Next Article:

Today on WebMD

man blowing nose
Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.
Allergy capsule
Breathe easier with these products.
 
cat on couch
Live in harmony with your cat or dog.
Woman sneezing with tissue in meadow
Which ones affect you?
 

blowing nose
Article
woman with sore throat
Article
 
lone star tick
Slideshow
Woman blowing nose
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

cat lying on shelf
Article
Allergy prick test
VIDEO
 
Man sneezing into tissue
Assessment
Woman holding feather duster up to face, twitching
Quiz