Want to know “Am I Allergic to Dogs?” (This QUIZ will help)

Think you're allergic to dogs? get your answers today
Think you might be allergic to dogs? Get your answers today!

I know you came to this article because you were wondering “am I allergic to dogs?”

allergic to dogs quiz
Are you allergic to dogs? I’ll give you my best google guess with my quiz below

Now I will do my best Nostradamus impression.  You’re asking this question because:

  1. You want to get a dog and you’re not sure if you’re allergic
  2. You just got a dog and are having allergy symptoms
  3. You are allergic to cats and want to know if you’re also allergic to dogs
  4. You have symptoms around some dogs… but not others… and want to know why

 

Am I close?

If so, then this article and QUIZ will give you all the answers you need to answer your “am I allergic to dogs” question once and for all (ok, maybe 90% once and for all… depending on allergy testing)

Who should read this article?

I wrote this article to answer one question and one question only for you:  “am I allergic to dogs?”

  • If you are wondering this question for any reason, this article is for you.
    • I will answer this question for both kids and adults
    • The quiz is divided for you, your child, or a friend/family
  • If you know someone (family, friend or significant other) who is struggling with whether they are allergic to dogs… consider SHARING it with them.

 

If these don’t apply to you, then there are better articles you could read:

  1. Think you’re allergic to penicillin?  9 out of 10 people with “penicillin allergies” aren’t!
  2. Do you have chronic sinus infections?  This chronic sinusitis guide has all your answers.
  3. Or perhaps you want to feel good by watching my baby, Luke, laughing his fool head off (video)

 

Overview

Here’s how to get the most out of this article:

  1. Take the “Am I Allergic to Dogs” Quiz
  2. Read through these two parts to get the best starting information
  3. Pick which question to which you want an answer
  4. Read these parts for some background information
  5. Summary
  6. Next Steps

 

Take the “Am I Allergic to Dogs?” Quiz

I will preface this quiz by telling you the best way to know whether you’re allergic to dogs is to see an allergist.  But that takes time and money (and most of us don’t have enough of either).

So I designed this quiz to give you my best guess based on 10 years of seeing patients allergic to dogs… and if you need a test, I will even share the most cost-effective solution for you!

All I ask is that if the quiz is helpful, consider sharing it or this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest.

What causes you to be allergic to dogs?

I’ve covered what causes allergies in a prior article and if you’re allergic to dogs, it’s the same:  your immune system is being triggered by the dog antigen and as a result, you are now allergic to dogs.

Specifically, it’s the IgE component of your immune system.

The IgE system normally protects you against worms and parasites.  Awesome job, IgE.

But for you that part has also taken an additional job and now “protects you” against dog.  Less awesome in that part, IgE.

 

What part of the dog causes you to have allergies?

Worried "am I allergic to dogs?" Keep reading
Still worried “Am I Allergic to Dogs? There’s a lot of good information left below!

I bet one of your friends says it’s due to the dog saliva and another said it’s the dog fur (and a third said you need a dog with hair and NOT fur!)

 

Who is right?

 

Well, here’s an answer that will please all the Millennials reading this article:  you’re all right (or, to be more accurate, you’re all equally wrong!  Gen-X rules!)

If you are allergic to dogs, you are allergic to a specific protein that dogs make.  They make this protein:

  • In their saliva
  • In their skin, hair and fur
  • In their urine (which friend dropped the ball mentioning this one?)

 

These proteins are small and sticky, which makes them easy to inhale and breathe (causing allergies and asthma problems) and causes them to stick to the surfaces, bedding, carpet, and clothing (causing eczema issues).

If you are allergic to dogs, it is a yes vs no answer:  yes, you’re allergic to dogs… or no, you’re not. 

There is no way to categorize it to any one part vs. another.

(I can hear your thoughts already:  “but am I allergic to dogs that are hypoallergenic?”  Calm down, allergy padawan, I cover that below but you can jump there now if you want)

 

Do you want to get a dog and you’re not sure if you’re allergic?

I understand your passion for dogs.  You want a companion to greet you every day, to play with your kids, to hike and run with you and to get you a beer from the fridge afterwards.

I had the same passion when I got my golden retriever Willie (who is a loveable, amazing dog but isn’t solving any dog physics problems soon.)

If you want to get a dog but aren’t sure if you’re allergic to dogs, I recommend taking this quiz to give you a better direction as to your next step.

Do you have symptoms of dog allergy?

If you get any itchy, runny, sneezy or stuffy nose around dogs OR if you get red, watery, scratchy eyes around dogs then I would worry  you’re allergic to dogs.

Different breeds cause different amount of symptoms, so your next best step would be to spend time around different dogs and see if your symptoms are better or worse with different dogs.  It’s possible that by picking the right breed, you can reduce your chance of dog allergy symptoms.

What if you’re unsure whether you have symptoms?

If you aren’t sure (or if you think your symptoms are due to pollen and not to a dog) then I would recommend getting a dog allergy test.

There are two ways you can do this:

  1. You can make an appointment with an allergist and get a scratch test
  2. You can ask your primary care provider to order a dog blood allergy test

For you, either test would be sufficient.  The way to interpret the test for you is simple:

  • If the scratch test is negative OR <0.10 on the blood test, then you don’t have an allergy to dog.
  • If the scratch test is positive OR >0.10 on the blood test, then you have a potential allergy to dogs and I’d recommend either not getting a dog OR finding a breed that doesn’t trigger your allergies.

What’s the best breed if you have a mild allergy to dogs?

There is no one answer to this question.  The only way to know is to spend time with different dog breeds.  The easiest way to do this:

  • Volunteer at a shelter or humane society
  • Offer to foster puppies (where you serve as their temporary home until adoption, giving you a full experience of that breed of dog without the commitment of keeping it)
  • Dog-sit your friends dogs for a weekend (want a golden retriever for 2 days?! I know a guy who has an allergy website who might help…)

 

dog allergy symptoms after getting a dog
Having symptoms after you got a dog? It might NOT be the dog!

Are you having symptoms after you got a dog?

If you got a dog and are now having dog allergy symptoms, it is natural to worry “am I allergic to dogs… specifically, mine?!”  (and after this comes panic).

I can try to answer this by asking 3 questions (or by filling out my quiz):

  1. Did you have dog allergy symptoms to dogs before?
  2. Do you have regular seasonal allergies?
  3. [If this is for your child] Does your child have eczema?

 

Option #1:  You’re not allergic to dogs but are having an irritant reaction

If you never had a history of dog allergies AND never had a history of seasonal allergies, then it is possible you are experiencing an irritant reaction.

This could be an irritation due to the dog’s fur, due to dust/dirt the dog is tracking in or even to a smell/scent/odor.

Either way, I would try to treat with a nasal steroid (such as Flonase vs Nasonex) for about a month.

  • If that fixes it then try to reduce the nose spray or even try to stop it
  • If that doesn’t fix it, then I’d consider seeing an allergist to see if your are allergic to dogs (I would recommend this over a blood test from your primary care since you already have a dog and you want an allergist to interpret your test and give you a good plan)

 

Option #2:  You’re not allergic to dogs but are allergic to pollen

A regular pollen allergy is a common cause of thinking you are allergic to dogs. Huh?

What happens is that you’re not allergic to dogs but are allergic to pollen.

Your dog’s fur is a very effective way to gather all the pollen from the air, put it all in one place and then bring it straight to your nose (or bed, couch, etc).

If you think of it this way, your dog is just like a swiffer… although instead of taking dust away they’re bringing pollen to you.

Yay dog!

The treatment would be to treat your allergies and wash your dog as much as you (OK, they) will allow.

https://youtu.be/QxkC8-f5OXE

Option #3:  You are, unfortunately, allergic to dogs

This is always a possibility.

  • If you used to have an allergy to dogs, even if it seemed like it went away, then you could be allergic to your dog.
  • If your child has a history of eczema and now has symptoms around your dog, then they might be allergic to the dog.

In either of these cases, I would recommend you see an allergist to get a proper diagnosis and answer (you could email me and I’ll try to help you too)

Allergic to dogs and cats
Dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

Are you allergic to dogs if you’re also allergic to cats?

Maybe.  But not necessarily (I should be a politician with answers like that!)

If you have an allergy to cats, then it shows that your immune system reacts to allergies.  Based on that, you are at risk for ANY environmental allergy (pollen, dog, cat, mold, horse, cockroach or dust mites). But there is no connection between dogs and cats beyond their age old battle as written in the Tomes of Tom vs Jerry.

I’d read through the “do you want to get a dog and you’re not sure if you’re allergic?” section above and follow those steps.

 

Do you want to know why you’re allergic to some dogs but not others?

This is a great question… and doesn’t have a great answer.

The protein that’s made by dogs and that causes allergies is the same protein that is made by all dogs.  It’s also what we test for with both skin and blood tests.  But each dog  makes different amounts of this protein.  Often this is breed specific, but I know of cases where it is dog specific.

 

What I can’t tell you is what dog breed is best for you.  It doesn’t work that way (unlike many internet articles that will tell you otherwise).

  • You might tolerate one type of dog while your friend can’t.
  • You might tolerate a drooly dog… or you might not.  Same with big dogs vs small dogs.  Long hair vs short hair dogs.  Hair vs fur dogs.  Etc.
  • The only way to know is to spend time around the breed and see if it triggers your symptoms.

 

There is no test, no internet article or breeder’s advice, or anything else that will tell you how you’ll respond to a dog if you are allergic to dogs.

The easiest way to do this:

  • Volunteer at a shelter or humane society
  • Offer to foster puppies (where you serve as their temporary home until adoption, giving you a full experience of that breed of dog without the commitment of keeping it)
  • Dog-sit your friends dogs for a weekend (want a golden retriever for 2 days?! I know a guy who has an allergy website who might help…)

 

Should you get a hypoallergenic dog?

There are two questions that seem to go together like Kanye West and Kanye West:

  1. “Am I allergic to dogs?”
  2. “What about hypoallergenic dogs?”

 

The question is so frequent, in fact, that I have written an entire article about the fact vs fiction of hypoallergenic dogs.

I recommend you read that article and if it doesn’t answer your questions, just email me and I’ll be happy to give you more personalized advice.

How to treat dog allergies the right way

If you’re at this point, then you have a high suspicion of having a true dog allergy.

OK… no big deal…. let’s fix it.

Instead of giving you a half-assed answer tied to the end of this post, I have written an entire article dedicated to treating symptoms of dog allergy while also allowing you to keep your dog.

I recommend you do these two steps from here:

  1. Read my post on treating dog allergies (the right way)
  2. If you have questions, email me and I will fine tune your plan and make sure you have a perfect approach feeling great even if you’re allergic to dogs.

 

Summary

One of the most common questions I get in my clinic is “am I allergic to dogs?”  (or the very similar… “is my child allergic to dogs?”)  This question is not only common among readers/allergy patients, but also has about 15 incorrect answers and 20 false tips and tricks for every 1 correct answer.

Frustrating.

Which is why I wrote this article AND MADE A QUIZ to help.

 

Here’s how I would approach this article for you:

Step 1:  Take the “Am I Allergic to Dogs” Quiz

Step 2:  Read these two sections for background information about allergies to dogs:

Step 3:  Figure out what questions you have about being allergic to dogs and click the link to read the section (or if I don’t have a section to address your question, just ask me whatever question you want)

Step 4:  Make sure you don’t fall into traps about hypoallergenic dogs

Step 5:  Get the best treatment for your dog allergies

Step 6:  Profit (I guess… or just feel great!)

Next Steps

I hope this article answered your questions.  If you are still unsure, just contact me and I’ll do my best to> answer your questions.

And if it helped, SHARE this post online.  Many of your friends (or their friends) are struggling with this question.  And you get to be their HERO by pointing them to this resource!

 

Sources:

  1. Environmental assessment and exposure control: a practice parameter—furry animals (2012)
  2. The diagnosis and management of rhinitis: an updated practice parameter (2008)
  3. Allergy diagnostic testing: an updated practice parameter (2008)

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Comments

    • Thank you. I know that I LOVE my puppy (Ok, he’s 8 but still a puppy to me) and it always bothered me when people were told to get rid of their dogs for allergies. That is certainly one option, but there are so many more options to feel better and still keep your dog!

      And if I can help in any other way, please just let me know!

  1. I don’t have pet allergies but apparently, it bothers my asthma So I can’t get a kitten I got a turtle and I love him BUT I STILL WANT A KITTEN. It’s not pretty good idea Dr. Webber?. Thanks.

    • If you want a kitten and cat dander is a known cause of allergy or asthma exacerbation, it might not be the best idea to get one. But if you want a solution to see if your allergies/asthma really are bothered by cat, you could consider fostering kittens from your local humane society or shelter. You usually get to foster the kittens for about 4 weeks while they are getting old enough/healthy enough for adoption which will give you some fun kittens and also a test to see how you react.

      If they cause symptoms for you, then you didn’t commit to keeping the cat and get to give them back… while also helping your local community. And if they don’t cause symptoms… double bonus!

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