Childhood dog allergies are not uncommon and can cause symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and itchy eyes. While some children may outgrow their allergy to dogs over time, others may require treatment to manage their symptoms like wheezing, sniffling, and itching.
If you have allergic children, then you might wonder if they can ever grow out of their pet or dog allergy. Continue reading to learn about the causes and signs of a dog allergy and how to get your child long-term relief.
What Are Dog Allergies in Children?
Dog allergies in children are an immune response to specific proteins, commonly known as allergens, found in a dog's dander (skin flakes), saliva, or urine. When a child is allergic to dogs, their body recognizes these pet allergens as harmful invaders, leading to an immune system overreaction.
Dog dander poses a significant issue due to its small size, which allows it to stay airborne for extended durations, even with minimal air movement and an air cleaner. It can stick to your child’s clothes and upholstered furniture, becoming a persistent source of allergens in your home. Animal fur can also collect common allergens that trigger indoor or seasonal allergies, such as dust mites, mold, and pollen.
What Are the Symptoms?
Pet allergies, including those to dogs, can manifest through various symptoms. The symptoms are usually similar to those of seasonal allergies and can range from sneezing to difficulty breathing. If your child is allergic to dogs, here is a complete list of possible symptoms they may experience:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Frequent rubbing of the nose
- Postnasal drip
- Red, itchy, or watery eyes
- Facial pressure and pain
- Coughing or wheezing
- Skin rash or hives
- Itchy skin
- Difficulty breathing and chest tightness in cases of allergic asthma
Each child may experience pet allergy symptoms differently, and the severity can range from a mild reaction to severe. In the event of severe symptoms following exposure to a dog or other pets, seek medical advice.
Other Influencing Factors
While understanding the symptoms of dog allergies in children is crucial, it's equally important to recognize the various factors that can influence these symptoms and allergic reactions. Some of the crucial influencing factors are:
Some breeds are labeled "hypoallergenic," suggesting they are less likely to cause allergic reactions. However, no dog is allergen-free, as they carry allergens to varying extents. Even dog breeds that don’t have fur can cause allergies because people with animal allergies are not reacting to pet hair but to the proteins in the pet’s saliva, dander, and urine.
Dog breeds that do not molt excessively may be better family pets if your child has animal allergies. They shed less dander into their environment, which might reduce the likelihood or severity of an allergic reaction.
Cleaning and Air Quality
Maintaining good air quality is crucial to controlling allergens in your home. Regular and thorough cleaning can minimize the amount of animal dander and other pet allergens in your environment.
Just as eye color or height can be inherited, some children are genetically predisposed to develop allergies. If allergies, particularly animal allergies, are prevalent in your family, your child may be at a higher risk. If you have a strong family history of pet allergies, it’s best to avoid getting a dog or cat.
The frequency and duration of exposure to a dog can influence the severity of a child's allergic response. Less exposure may lead to milder symptoms, while continuous and close contact with a dog often heightens allergic reactions.
Immune System Response
Each child's immune system responds differently to allergens. Some children may exhibit strong allergic reactions, while others may have milder symptoms or develop resistance with repeated exposure.
Can You Be Allergic to a Hypoallergenic Dog?
Yes, you can still be allergic to a hypoallergenic dog. The term "hypoallergenic" can be somewhat misleading. It doesn’t mean that a dog is entirely allergen-free, but rather that the dog is less likely to cause allergic reactions compared to other breeds.
Hypoallergenic dogs typically produce fewer allergens, often due to less shedding of fur and dander. However, since dogs also produce allergens in their saliva and urine, no breed is completely allergen-free.
If you have dog allergies, your symptoms may be less severe around hypoallergenic breeds. However, it's also possible for some to still experience allergic reactions.
What Dog Breeds Are Considered Hypoallergenic?
Hypoallergenic dog breeds are often suggested for people with allergies because they tend to shed less or produce fewer allergens. Even though they still produce allergens, they generally are less likely to cause allergic reactions. Here are some breeds often considered to be more hypoallergenic:
- Bichon Frise
- Shih Tzu
- Portuguese Water Dog
- Italian Greyhound
- Kerry Blue Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
If you're considering adding a dog to a family with allergy sufferers, spend time with the breed first to see if any allergic reactions occur.
Tips for Managing Allergy Symptoms at Home
Navigating the terrain of child allergies can be challenging, especially when the allergens originate from a cherished family pet. However, there are numerous strategies you can implement at home to manage these allergy symptoms effectively. Here are some practical tips that can make a significant difference:
- Limit exposure: While it may seem tough, especially for a child who adores their pet, limiting direct exposure can significantly reduce allergy symptoms. This might involve less petting or cuddling of the dog.
- Create a pet-free zone: Designate specific areas of your house, like your child's bedroom, as pet-free zones. This can ensure your child has a place to retreat when symptoms flare up.
- Frequent cleaning: Regularly cleaning your home, particularly soft furnishings that trap pet dander, can limit allergens in your environment. Focus more on carpets, upholstered furniture, and bedding, as they are more likely to trap allergens.
- Rip up the carpets: Carpets can harbor pet allergens for up to six months. So if cleaning them doesn’t work, consider replacing them with smooth flooring such as hardwood, especially in your child’s bedroom.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) medications: OTC allergy medications like antihistamines and decongestants can help manage symptoms.
- Air purifiers: Consider using air purifiers to reduce allergens present in the air. Ensure these devices have a HEPA filter for optimal results.
- Regular pet grooming: Regularly grooming your dog can help manage the amount of dander they produce. It's best if someone without allergies can perform this task.
- Washing hands: Encourage your child to wash their hands after petting the dog to avoid inadvertently spreading allergens. You should also change the child’s clothes after they play with a pet.
When To Consult a Pediatrician or Allergist
While you can manage most symptoms at home, there are situations where it's necessary to consult a medical professional. You should seek advice from a pediatrician or allergist when:
- Your child's symptoms persist despite implementing various management strategies at home
- The symptoms interfere with your child's daily activities, such as sleep, school, or play
- Your child experiences frequent ear infections or sinusitis, which may be linked to allergies
- Pet allergies lead to health complications like asthma, causing significant discomfort or breathing difficulties
- You're considering immunotherapy or other advanced treatments for your child's allergies.
In these situations, a pediatrician can provide initial guidance, but you may also need to seek the expertise of an allergy specialist for specialized care. These professionals can perform allergy tests to confirm the cause of symptoms and provide tailored advice and treatments.
The Importance of Allergy Testing
Navigating the world of allergies can feel like trying to solve a complex puzzle. But that's where allergy testing comes in. Allergy tests shine a light on the mystery, revealing exactly what's causing your child's symptoms. With this knowledge, the allergy doctor can develop a tailored, laser-focused treatment plan.
Once you understand what's causing your child's allergies, you can find more effective and focused allergy management, enabling your family to navigate the journey with more certainty and less guesswork.
Traditionally, the skin prick test has been a standard method used by allergists. This test involves applying small amounts of various allergens to the skin using tiny pricks or scratches and observing the skin's reaction.
However, recent advancements have introduced more convenient options, such as Wyndly's at-home allergy test. This innovative approach allows you to test your child for common allergens in the comfort of your home, reducing the stress and time spent visiting a clinic. The kit is shipped directly to your doorstep, and once the test is done, you send it back for analysis.
Sublingual immunotherapy is a type of allergy immunotherapy used to retrain your immune system to stop reacting to your allergy triggers. Sublingual immunotherapy involves taking allergy drops or tablets containing small doses of the allergens you’re allergic to. Over time, the immune system gradually becomes desensitized and stops reacting when you’re exposed to your allergy triggers. This results in long-term relief from your allergy symptoms.
Sublingual immunotherapy is a popular alternative to allergy shots since it doesn’t require frequent injections and can be safely taken from the comfort of home. Children aged five and up can use sublingual immunotherapy, making it a good option for children afraid of needles or the doctor’s office.
Take Our Allergy Assessment and Get Treatment Today
If your child is suffering from dog allergies or you think they may have allergies, choose Wyndly. Our allergy doctors will identify your child’s allergies and create a personalized immunotherapy treatment plan for kids aged five and above to ensure they get long-term relief from pet allergies. Take our online assessment now to get started!