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Dog Allergy Symptoms

Updated on April 30, 2011

A person who develops a runny nose or cough may dismiss these symptoms automatically as symptoms of the common cold. However, if the person has recently spent time with a dog or in the home where a dog lives, these could be dog allergy symptoms even if the person has never had dog allergy symptoms previously.

Dog allergies can begin at any age. When a parent suspects that one or more of their children are allergic to dogs, it is often because the parents notice cold-like symptoms in their children that occur after spending time with dogs.

This is how my young nephew started showing signs of allergies. When a child who is not usually exposed to dogs spends time with a dog or in the home where a dog lives such as a relative or friend shows symptoms of an allergic reaction, the parent may want to discuss the suspected allergy with the pediatrician or family physician.

While the symptoms of dog allergies can be mild, some people develop hives on any part of the skin where the dog rubbed against them or licked. Hives are raised welts on the skin that are pink or red in color.

Though hives often resolve and disappear without treatment, some people can develop allergy complications of hives in the mouth and airway. If the person has trouble breathing, emergency medical treatment should be sought immediately.

When my mother gets hives, she often gets them in her mouth and throat and must go to the emergency room. Even though my mother does not always know the cause of her allergic reaction, it is no coincidence that more than one of my family members has allergies.

Allergies often run in families. The trigger of the allergies may vary among family members. One family member may be allergic to dogs while others might be only allergic to foods or perfumes. Asthma and eczema are also common in families with a history of allergies.

Like other types of allergies, dog allergies are caused when the individual's immune system mistakes pet dander, urine, or saliva as a dangerous foreign substance. The person's immune system overreacts to these substances which causes the allergy symptoms.

Dog dander is the dead skin flakes from a dog which can be found in the air and practically all areas of the home where the dog has been. Dog dander is the most common cause of dog allergies, not the dog's fur as many people believe.

A doctor may use a skin test to verify that the allergy is a dog allergy. Allergy treatments provide temporary relief from allergy symptoms. There is no cure for allergies. Many people use over-the-counter antihistamine medication to treat allergies.

A long-acting, yet still temporary allergy treatment is a series of allergy shots. The series of injections can be up to five years long. These allergy shots that act like an immunization reduce or eliminate the allergy symptoms for up to ten years after the series of shots in complete.

Some people who have allergies to dogs still want to own dogs. There are some ways to reduce the impact of owning a dog on dog allergy symptoms. Having hardwood or tile floors rather than carpet is easier to keep clean and free of dog dander.

Restricting the dog's area inside the home such as not allowing the dog in the bedrooms seems to help some people. Air filtration systems are often recommended for people with allergies. People who own a dog will not be able to eliminate dog dander, but they may be able to keep the levels of dander low enough to avoid allergy symptoms.

People who have a severe dog allergy can have difficulty even if they do not own a dog. Dog dander on the clothes of visitors or people in a public environment may be enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Visiting people who have dogs can be extremely difficult for some people with moderate to severe dog allergies.

My best friend had a dog allergy that caused hives on her hands when she would visit me when I had a german shepherd/ labrador mix. One thing that worked for her was drinking Coke and eating dark chocolate while she was in my home. I'm not sure if it was the caffeine or even a placebo effect because she believed it worked, but she would not experience the symptoms if she was using that home remedy for allergies. I'd be interested in hearing from anyone else who has tried that home remedy.

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