People in the United States have more dogs than any other pet. And it’s no wonder why. Dogs are friendly and fun! Plus, they help you stay active and offer companionship and love.
Unfortunately, many owners suffer from dog allergies and experience various symptoms when exposed to canines. Even so, people don’t want to give up on having their dog, which makes hypoallergenic dogs popular.
Hypoallergenic dogs are not allergy-free. They are likely to cause fewer symptoms for those with allergies to dogs, but their dander, saliva, and urine still cause reactions.
Why Are Some People Allergic to Dogs?
Allergies result when your immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, such as pollen or pet dander. This allergen is harmless, but your body views it as a threat. In response, your immune system produces antibodies, specifically immunoglobulin E (IgE), and the chemical histamine.
Dog allergies are caused by proteins in a dog's skin cells, saliva, and urine. When exposed to these proteins, your body produces histamines to fight off the intruder. These antibodies cause an allergic reaction with symptoms including sneezing, watery eyes, and a runny nose.
Allergy-causing particles, or allergens, from your dog can float through the air and attach to bedding, furniture, and carpet. The rooms your dog frequents the most will have higher allergen levels.
How Do I Know If I’m Having an Allergic Reaction to a Dog?
The symptoms of a dog allergy are similar to those of other allergies, such as hay fever (allergic rhinitis). They include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
Some people experience hives, itchy skin, or eczema from touching dogs, and allergic asthma symptoms can worsen.
How Long Does It Take for Pet-Allergy Symptoms to Start?
For most people, symptoms start immediately or within minutes after exposure to an allergen. In some cases, they may not appear until days later. Symptoms can become chronic or persistent with prolonged exposure, building over time.
How Can I Know for Sure If I Am Allergic to My Dog?
The best way to find out if you have allergies to dogs is to take an allergy test. Allergy testing can confirm whether you have a pet allergy and if so, help you figure out the best allergy treatments and lifestyle changes.
There are two types of allergy tests: skin prick testing and blood testing. During a skin prick test, a small amount of the allergen is placed on your skin, and the allergy specialist pricks you. If you're allergic, a raised bump or hive develops within 15 minutes.
A blood test measures the amount of allergen-specific IgE in your blood. At Wyndly, our convenient at-home allergy test kit requires only one finger prick before you return it in the provided packaging.
Do Pet-Related Allergies Go Away Over Time?
Pet allergies can lessen over time with exposure but may come back if you spend time away from your pet and then return. For example, if you travel without your pet, you may experience a flare-up of allergy symptoms when returning home. Any tolerance you may build naturally constantly fluctuates.
There are no guarantees your pet allergies will go away on their own. Most sufferers have allergies their entire lives unless they seek a long-term solution like sublingual immunotherapy.
Are Hypoallergenic Dogs Real?
Most dog owners believe their allergies come from dog fur. This is false. Dander, pet saliva, and urine cause pet allergies. Hypoallergenic is used to describe dogs that produce fewer allergens. In theory, they should cause fewer allergic reactions.
The reality, though, is that there's no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog or hypoallergenic breed of dog. Allergists say any dog can trigger an attack in people with allergies to dogs.
Regardless, hair or fur is not the culprit behind canine allergies—it's the chemicals in their skin, saliva, and urine. Even hairless dogs generate allergens. In the end, no dog is completely hypoallergenic.
Facts About Hypoallergenic Dogs
Hypoallergenic dogs are considered less likely to cause allergies in certain people. But they still cause allergies for many others. According to one study, dust samples from homes with hypoallergenic dogs and those with other dog breeds contained the same amount of canine allergens.
Different dogs of the same breed may have significantly different allergen levels. One study evaluated fur allergens in various breeds, including poodles. While some poodles produced low amounts of allergens, others produced high levels, some up to 60 times more. This research shows that allergens vary mostly by the dog and not by breed.
It's difficult to say which dog breed will be problematic for someone with allergies. There is no single breed appropriate for everyone who suffers from allergies to dogs. Allergen production isn't determined by the length of hair, how much it sheds, or the animal’s size. It all depends on how many allergens each dog releases, which comes down to that dog's individual genetics.
What Can I Do If I Am Allergic to My Dog?
If you're allergic to your dog but don't want to give up your furry companion, implement a few lifestyle changes to reduce dog allergy symptoms.
- Don’t allow your dog in the bedroom. If possible, designate another room in the house as pet sleeping quarters. This practice keeps dander out of the area where you sleep.
- Give your dog regular baths. Bathing removes allergens from the dog's fur and skin. Use soap and shampoo specifically designed for dogs for best results.
- Vacuum often and use HEPA air filters. These filters remove allergens from the air, reducing your symptoms. Remember to frequently vacuum and clean areas where your dog spends the most time.
- Consider replacing carpet with wood or tile floors so that particles don't get trapped in carpet fibers.
- Use groomers to brush and trim your dog's fur.
Can I Train My Body Not to Be Allergic to Dogs?
Sublingual immunotherapy, also known as allergy drops and tablets, introduces small doses of allergens to your body. Over time, your immune system becomes desensitized to the allergens and stops reacting when you are exposed. This results in long-term relief from your allergy symptoms.
If you want to be free from your allergy to dogs, get started today by taking our quick assessment to see if you’re a candidate!