Living with a Dog Allergy

Last December we discovered that my son was allergic to dogs. I always assumed that his previous reactions while playing with dogs were caused by the ingredients in dog foods (he is allergic to dairy, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs, which are commonly found in dog food).

Over the holidays we had many family parties at homes with dogs. He’s old enough now that he knows to avoid dog licks and to wash his hands immediately after petting a dog. Despite the precautions we took, he ended up covered in hives after one party, and after another party his eyes swelled shut when he rubbed them with his mitten that the dogs played with. These reactions seemed a little more serious than the contact reactions he normally gets when his skin touches his food allergens, so I decided to confirm the dog allergy with his allergist.

The skin test was positive to dog dander. We were told to avoid touching dog saliva and fur, but there wasn’t any other information or literature available to help us understand the dog allergy better.

I finally found something on the Facts + Advice Newsletter published by Anaphylaxis Canada. Anne Borden, the writer behind the May Contains blog, interviewed an allergist about dog saliva and food allergy reactions.

The most useful and interesting fact I learned from this interview was that “hypo-allergenic dogs” still have one or more dog allergens present in them and should still be avoided by people with dog allergies. It’s a great article and definitely worth reading, especially if you or one of your loved ones has an allergy to dog dander.