The symptoms of dog allergy can range from mild to severe, depending on the sensitivity of the individual as well as the level of exposure to the allergens. Remember that these can affect how quickly the symptoms will manifest after exposure. Individuals who are highly sensitive usually experience symptoms such as rash or breathing difficulties in just minutes after touching a dog or visiting a house with a dog around.
Symptoms of dog allergy
- Skin rashes or hives
- Sneezing, stuffy or runny nose
- Red, watery, itchy eyes
- Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, tightness of chest
- Facial pain
In some circumstances, the individual might also develop hives or rashes after being licked or scratched by a dog.
Diagnosing dog allergy
An individual who is suspected with dog allergy must consult a doctor. In most cases, the doctor will perform a skin prick test to diagnose dog allergy. During the test, an extract of the dog allergen is applied on the skin. The skin is pricked using a small-sized, sterile probe so that the extract is allowed to leak under the skin. The individual is observed for signs of redness or swelling which indicates an allergy. The result of a skin prick test is available within 15-20 minutes.
Management and treatment of dog allergy
Just like with other allergies, avoidance is the best way to manage this allergy. Once the allergy is confirmed, the individual should consider removing the dog from the house. If giving up the pet is not an option, there are measures that can help minimize the symptoms.
- Do not allow the dog to stay in the bedroom.
- Provide the dog with a bath at least once a week to reduce the airborne allergens.
- Avoid constant exposure through petting or hugging. If exposed to the dog, always wash hands using soap and water.
- It is recommended to use a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner on a regular basis to minimize the level of allergens.
- HEPA cleaners must be used continuously in the bedroom or living room to reduce the level of dog allergens over time.
The treatment for dog allergy can vary depending on the symptoms experienced by the individual. The doctor can determine the suitable treatment. In most cases, the nasal symptoms can be managed with oral antihistamines or steroid nasal sprays. The eye symptoms can be managed with antihistamine eye drops.
The respiratory symptoms are managed with bronchodilators or inhaled corticosteroids to relieve or prevent the symptoms. In some cases, allergy shots (immunotherapy) are known to be effective in managing allergies by establishing tolerance over time through the gradual injections which includes an increasing dose of the allergen.
Are there hypoallergenic dogs?
Even though certain dog breeds such as Portuguese water dogs and poodles are known to be hypoallergenic, a truly allergy-free breed does not exist at all.