Is it normal to sneeze around dogs?

Answered by Randy McIntyre

It is not uncommon to experience sneezing around dogs, especially if you have allergies. Allergies to dogs are quite common, affecting a significant number of individuals worldwide. If you find yourself sneezing, wheezing, or experiencing a runny nose after petting or playing with a dog, it is likely that you are allergic to dogs.

Allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly identifies harmless substances, such as dog allergens, as harmful invaders. When you come into contact with these allergens, your immune system produces antibodies, such as immunoglobulin E (IgE), to fight off the perceived threat. This immune response triggers the release of histamine and other chemicals, leading to allergy symptoms.

Dogs produce multiple allergens, which are proteins found in their hair, dander, saliva, and urine. These allergens can become airborne and easily spread in the environment, making it difficult to avoid exposure. When you pet or play with a dog, you may inadvertently come into contact with these allergens, leading to allergic reactions.

Common symptoms of dog allergies include:

1. Sneezing: Sneezing is a common allergic reaction and is often the result of the immune system’s response to the dog allergens.

2. Runny or stuffy nose: The allergens can irritate the nasal passages, leading to a runny or congested nose.

3. Itchy or watery eyes: Dog allergens can also irritate the eyes, causing itching, redness, and excessive tearing.

4. Wheezing or coughing: For some individuals, exposure to dog allergens can trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing or coughing.

5. Skin reactions: In some cases, contact with dog allergens can cause skin reactions, such as hives or rashes, particularly in individuals with sensitive skin.

If you suspect that you have a dog allergy, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or an allergist. They can perform specific allergy tests, such as a skin prick test or a blood test, to confirm the diagnosis and identify the specific allergens triggering your symptoms. Understanding the specific allergens can help you take appropriate measures to minimize your exposure.

In the meantime, there are several strategies you can employ to reduce your symptoms when around dogs:

1. Limit exposure: If you know you are allergic to dogs, it may be best to limit your exposure to them. Avoid spending extended periods of time in close proximity to dogs or in places where dog allergens may be prevalent, such as dog parks or homes with pets.

2. Create allergen-free zones: Designate certain areas in your home as allergen-free zones, such as your bedroom, to minimize your exposure to dog allergens. Keep these areas off-limits to pets and regularly clean them to remove any residual allergens.

3. Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after petting or playing with a dog to remove any allergens that may have come into contact with your skin. Avoid touching your face and eyes before washing your hands.

4. Use air purifiers and filters: Consider using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters or air purifiers in your home to help remove dog allergens from the air.

5. Consult with an allergist: An allergist can provide guidance on appropriate medications or immunotherapy options, such as allergy shots or sublingual tablets, to help manage your dog allergy symptoms.

It is important to note that while these strategies can help alleviate symptoms, they may not completely eliminate them. Everyone’s allergy severity and sensitivity are different, so it is essential to find what works best for you in managing your dog allergy.