Patients allergic to dogs, are allergic to the dog’s saliva. However, typical allergic symptoms are not as a result of coming in direct contact with the dog’s saliva. Instead, when the dog grooms itself by licking its fur and skin it deposits its saliva. The saliva dries, leaving behind the protein antigen that are the source of allergy.
These allergens, dog saliva antigens are very light-weight and are easily aerosolized. Once air-borne the antigen can spread to clothes, furniture, carpeting, or any other household item.
Allergy to dogs is not as problematic as allergy to cats, primarily because dogs are:
- usually kept outside
- kept out of owner bedrooms
- regularly washed
Once a dog allergy is confirmed, the best way to decrease allergy symptoms is to remove the dog from the home. But there are less dramatic means to improve or eliminate dog allergy symptoms, including the use of medications and allergy immunization.
HEPA filters can catch particulates as small as one micron, and are effective in combating dog allergens.
Allergic owners should not be involved with the washing or grooming of the dog.