Let's talk aboutDog Allergy

What is dog allergy?

Allergies occur when the immune system mistakes a normally harmless substance, called an allergen, for a harmful one. When the immune system detects an allergen, it triggers an immune reaction in an attempt to protect the body. In the case of dog allergy, the immune system reacts to certain proteins found in dogs’ saliva, skin cells (also called “dander”), or urine. 

Symptoms of dog allergy

Those with dog allergies often experience sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and itchy skin. Some may experience signs of asthma, such as difficulty breathing or wheezing. For people with dog allergies, lifestyle modifications and other treatments, including medications, can help ease symptoms.

Common symptoms of dog allergy include sneezing, watery eyes, and itchy skin.

Did you know?

Certain dog breeds have been described as “hypoallergenic,” meaning they are unlikely to cause allergic reactions. Some propose that low-shedding breeds, like labradoodles, poodles, or cairn terriers, may release less allergens into the surroundings and cause fewer reactions. However, studies have shown that there is no significant difference between allergen levels inside homes of hypoallergenic dogs and non-hypoallergenic dogs. While it appears there is no correlation between dog breed and the amount of allergens released, some evidence suggests that regardless of breed, bathing dogs twice a week or more may help reduce allergic reactions. But keep in mind that over-washing may irritate the skin so this may not be suitable for all dogs.

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Curious whether you have an increased likelihood of developing a dog allergy based on your genetics? 23andMe takes into account more than 8,000 genetic markers to estimate the likelihood of developing a dog allergy. Find out more with the Dog Allergy Wellness report (Powered by 23andMe Research), part of the 23andMe+ Premium membership. 23andMe+ Premium includes everything in our Health + Ancestry Service plus new premium reports and features throughout the year.

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Chan SK et al. (2018). “Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges.” Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 10(2):97-105. 

Mayo Clinic. “Pet allergy.” Retrieved February 22, 2020, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pet-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352192. 

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. (2019). “Pet Allergens.” Retrieved February 22, 2020, from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/allergens/pets/index.cfm. 

Nicholas CE et al. (2011). “Dog allergen levels in homes with hypoallergenic compared with nonhypoallergenic dogs.” Am J Rhinol Allergy. 25(4):252-6. 

Salo PM et al. (2014). “Prevalence of allergic sensitization in the United States: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2006.” J Allergy Clin Immunol. 134(2):350-9.