What Are the Treatments for an Allergic Reaction to Dogs?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

Allergic reaction to dogs are extremely common, and can make life quite unpleasant for an allergy sufferer who lives with dogs. There are many different ways to treat an allergic reaction to dogs, including with mild over-the-counter drugs. People with more severe allergies may want to consider allergy shots or prescription medication, as well as limiting contact with dogs whenever possible. Though not well studied, some people also report developing a tolerance for an allergic reaction to dogs after a few months of living with one.

Simply living with a dog for a while can build up the resistance that's needed to end a mild allergy.
Simply living with a dog for a while can build up the resistance that's needed to end a mild allergy.

The most basic way to treat an allergic reaction to dogs is through antihistamines. These are relatively mild drugs that stop the symptoms of an allergy attack, such as runny nose, sore throat, hives, and itchy eyes. Many anti-histamines come in pill or liquid form, and can be taken preemptively or when an allergic reaction occurs. Some antihistamines are also available in a lotion formula, which can work fast to eliminate the hives caused by contact with dogs. Antihistamines are best used for a mild allergic reaction to dogs, and may not be strong enough to combat serious allergies.

Bronchodilators are used to treat asthma symptoms.
Bronchodilators are used to treat asthma symptoms.

In some cases, an allergic reaction to dogs may manifest as an asthma attack. People who are prone to asthma may need to carry a bronchodilator inhaler that can be used with other medications. Bronchodilators help open the lungs, in order to allow the person to breathe more freely. These medications are usually available only by prescription, but can be very useful for patients with severe, asthma-related allergy symptoms.

A Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier may make a suitable companion for individuals with allergies.
A Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier may make a suitable companion for individuals with allergies.

Allergy shots are a type of long-term treatment that may reduce or eliminate an allergic reaction to dogs. Usually taken over several years, these shots inject a gradually increasing dose of the allergen in hopes of desensitizing the body. In order to determine which allergen is causing the reaction, a person will first need to undergo allergy testing, since people may react to different substances, such as dander or saliva. Allergy shots do not always create a permanent tolerance; some patients may slowly lose their tolerance after the course of shots is completed.

Oral antihistamines can be taken to treat an allergic reaction to dogs.
Oral antihistamines can be taken to treat an allergic reaction to dogs.

For people with mild allergies to dogs, a possible treatment may include simply living with Fido for a while. Just as with allergy shots, consistent exposure to the allergen may help decrease the body's sensitivity to its presence. While this is not scientifically proven, some people with allergies do report a gradual decrease in allergy symptoms after living with a dog for a while, though allergies may flare if they spend too much time petting the dog or come into skin contact with its saliva.

Signs of an allergic reaction to dogs may include hives.
Signs of an allergic reaction to dogs may include hives.
Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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