Over 40% of homes in the U.S. include dogs, which can be quite difficult for those who suffer from dog allergies. Dog and pet dander can be carried on the clothes, shoes and hair of pet owners, leading to some level of pet dander being found in nearly every home whether they have pets or not.
Dog allergies symptoms are similar to many other nasal allergies and can include runny itchy or stuffy nose, wheezing or coughing, sneezing, swollen skin under the eyes, itching of the roof of the mouth and itchy, red eyes. There are also people who have skin reactions when contact with a dog occurs. In these cases a simple lick from the dog can lead to rashes or hives breaking out at the sight of contact or all over the body. If the allergic person also suffers from asthma, they may also experience wheezing or whistling when trying to exhale, difficulty breathing or pain and tightness in the chest.
Many people believe that dog allergies symptoms are due to the type or length of fur the dog has, but this is usually not the case. The symptoms of dog allergies often occur due to the proteins found in the flakes of dead skin called dander or the urine or saliva of the dog.
Dog allergies symptoms are very similar to those of the common cold, so many people may not realize they are having an allergic reaction to a dog. A good rule of thumb is that if your symptoms continue for more than one week, you may be experiencing an allergic reaction rather than a cold.
Dog allergies symptoms are triggered due to the reaction of your immune system. The body reacts to pet dander as if it were a foreign substance like a virus or bacteria. When the body is exposed to the allergen, the immune system identifies it as a harmful invader to the body and attacks it by producing antibodies. When these antibodies are released, it causes an inflammatory response that results in the symptoms that occur. If the exposure is continued or repeated often it can lead to chronic inflammation of the lungs and nasal passages, which are symptoms associated with asthma.
The allergens that are released from the dog’s dander, urine or saliva are difficult to get rid of completely. The dander remains in the air for long periods of time and is also released when the urine or saliva dries which causes an almost constant circulation of the allergy causing agents. This circulation results in the dander and allergens being carried out of the home on the clothing, shoes, hair and skin, where it falls off as the person moves around, causing an allergic response even in areas where there are no dogs present.
An allergy to dogs is often hereditary and is much more likely to be present if there is a family history of asthma or allergies. Allergies can also occur in small children who are not exposed to dogs or other pets that cause allergies in their first year of life. This is why many children who grow up with pets do not develop allergies even if there is a family history.
Dog allergies symptoms cannot be cured. The best way to avoid an allergic reaction is to stay away from any dogs or areas where their dander may be present. Due to the prevalence of households who own dogs, complete avoidance can be difficult. If an allergic reaction does occur there are treatment options available.
One of the most common treatments for controlling dog allergies symptoms is the use of allergy medications containing antihistamines which causes a reduction in the immune response to the allergen. Decongestants are also used to lessen the amount of swelling that occurs in the nasal passages as a result of the inflammation and many allergy medications are a combination of the two. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe corticosteroids if the symptoms are severe.
Dog allergies symptoms can be difficult to deal with, but there are treatments available. The best defense however is to try to avoid exposure of any kind by avoiding areas frequented by dogs.