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We love our furry friends, so when they irritate our senses it can seem like a real downer. Dogs are among the most common causes of allergic reactions, and considering the amount of time they spend outside, those with allergies can react the same way to dogs as they can with dust and pollen. If you find yourself reacting negatively to the pets in your life, you’re not alone: 15 to 30% of allergy sufferers have a reaction to pets with fur or hair.1

Common allergic reactions to dogs can include:2

  • Frequent sneezing and coughing
  • Runny or stuffy nose, nasal congestion
  • Red, watery, or itchy eyes
  • Hives or skin rash

If you have asthma, you may also experience:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
  • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing

Dog hair doesn’t cause allergies, but it traps allergens

Dogs produce multiple allergens that are found in their hair, dander, saliva and urine. The primary allergen is produced in the salivary glands. When a dog licks itself, these particles are deposited on the dog’s hair and can flake off and become airborne.1

The length of a dog’s hair varies by breed, but this does not affect the level of allergens produced: dogs with hair of any length can produce allergen particles, even hairless dogs.1 Some dogs who shed less hair than others can spread fewer allergens around the home. It has been proven that allergen levels increase if a dog lives indoors, and in rooms where a dog is allowed in, allergen levels are higher in those areas.3

What about hypoallergenic dogs?

Hypoallergenic dogs are commonly touted as being safe for allergy sufferers; however, the truth is that all dogs produce allergens.3 Types of allergens produced may vary between dog breeds or mixes, and they can all affect individuals differently.

Take note of your symptoms and consult your doctor or medical professional to find an allergy treatment that can address your specific needs. An allergist can perform a skin-prick test: the most common way of pinpointing allergies. Here, an extract of dog allergen is placed on your skin, and the allergist will monitor you for a reaction that can signal an allergy. Results typically become evident within 15 to 20 minutes.3

Preventing allergy symptoms before they start

If you experience existing conditions such as sinus infections or asthma, allergies to dogs may seem like they feel worse. Asthma and sinus infections can be complicated by pet allergies, such as trouble breathing or bacterial infections of the sinuses, respectively. In some cases, allergy attacks may require emergency medical treatment.1

Fortunately, there are many ways to controlling and reducing allergies—and having these symptoms doesn’t preclude pet ownership! 

Many easy solutions include:

  • Restrict the rooms that your dog can enter
  • Bathe your dog once a week to reduce airborne particles
  • Wash your dog’s bedding, toys, and surfaces that they sleep on
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after petting or playing with a dog
  • Ventilate your home by opening windows or with an air purifier
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter
  • Avoid letting your dog into your bedroom, as allergies can feel worse at night

It’s possible to live with and take care of a pet and manage your allergy symptoms at the same time. There are plenty of ways to control your dog allergies, from daily medication and doctor-recommended treatments for severe cases, to over-the-counter solutions that can help in the short term. Antihistamine tablets or nasal sprays like Flonase Headache and Allergy Relief and Flonase Allergy Relief can alleviate symptoms, while it’s worth consulting your doctor or medical professional to take care of longer-term symptoms.


  1. Allergic to your dog? The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Accessed 5/24/2023.
  2. Pet Allergy. Mayo Clinic. Accessed 5/24/2023.
  3. Pet Allergies. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Accessed 5/24/2023.