Can Children Be Allergic to Dogs? Reasons, Tips to Manage, and More

Allergies have become commonplace in modern times, especially among children. These are adverse bodily reactions caused due to a hyperactive immune response. The body considers harmless foreign particles like dust or pollen deadly threats. 

girl sleeping beside a dog on the sofa

When this happens, the child may showcase symptoms on their skin, eyes, nose, or ears. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, children may be allergic to pollen, dust, insects, perfume, certain food items, or dog fur. 

Do you think that your child may be allergic to your dog? This article will discuss pet allergens and ways to protect your child. 

boy sitting in front of dog

Is There a Thing Called Childhood Dog Allergy?

Some parents are surprised that their kids may be allergic to their beloved furball. Yes, there is a thing known as childhood pet allergy caused by a reaction to specific proteins known as pet dander

If a child has an allergy to dogs, it is mainly due to the dander or skin flakes that a dog sheds off. Other allergens may be the pooch’s urine or saliva. In the case of childhood pet allergy, the child’s body considers these kinds of allergens to be harmful invaders, thereby causing an immune response. 

Dog dander is especially a pressing issue because the particles are minute and can stay airborne for extended durations. They may adhere to surrounding furniture as well as clothes and other items. These allergens can further cause seasonal problems in the form of pollen, dust mites, and mold. 

Some of the typical symptoms of pet allergies in children include –

  • Runny nose 
  • Itchy and red skin 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Nasal congestion 
  • Constant sneezing 
  • Tightness in the chest or breathing difficulties 

The symptoms may differ among children as well as their severity. If you notice that your child is exhibiting such symptoms almost all year round, they may be allergic to your pooch. 

Can Dog Allergies Pass onto the Child?

Now, there are certain skin allergies that even dogs may suffer from. As per the American Kennel Club, dogs experience skin allergies due to three causes – fleas, food, and environment (pollen or dust). 

The most commonly spotted symptoms of such allergies in dogs include hives, itchy skin, vomiting and diarrhea, runny eyes, and constant licking. In some cases, these symptoms may point toward a separate problem. 

When confined to the pet, such allergies are easy to prevent or treat if diagnosed on time. For instance – pills like Apoquel for dogs are widely available to provide rapid itch relief and protection against inflammation or atopic dermatitis. 

PetCareRx shares that the dosage would depend upon the severity of symptoms and the pooch’s weight. Unless the dog has a history of neoplastic conditions, such tablets should not cause any adverse reactions. Some parents fear that these allergies may also be a contagion. 

The truth is there is no strong evidence to indicate that dog allergies like atopic dermatitis pass onto humans. However, if your child is already susceptible to skin conditions like eczema, the symptoms may flare up when they’re around the allergic dog. 

What About Hypoallergenic Dogs?

Certain dog breeds are known to be hypoallergenic or allergen-free. This can be misleading because the term hypoallergenic essentially means they produce fewer allergens due to less shedding of dander and fur. 

The most popular hypoallergenic breeds include the Maltese, Bedlington Terrier, Portuguese Water Dog, Affenpinscher, and Barbet. 

Let’s come to the question of whether your child can develop an allergy to a hypoallergenic dog. The short answer is yes. 

Though these dogs do not shed as much fur or dander, their saliva or urine can still cause an allergic reaction in your child. However, the symptoms of the allergy may be less severe. 

Tips to Manage Allergies (in Dogs and Children) 

We understand that it can be challenging to navigate the terrain of childhood allergies. You love both and want them to be healthy and safe. This is why we have compiled a list of practical tips to manage allergies in dogs and children. 

Limited Exposure 

This one can be tough for you and your child. No matter how much they adore your pooch, sometimes the only way to prevent allergies is to limit exposure. Allow your child to play with their furry companion, but instruct them to refrain from too much petting or cuddling. Also, ask them to wash their hands thoroughly after such activities. 

Regular Cleaning 

Soft furnishings are generally notorious for trapping pet dander and other allergens. These would include the bedding, carpets, and sofa covers. Periodic cleaning cycles of such upholstery will limit the presence of allergens in the environment. 

Routine Grooming and Check-ups 

If your dog’s breed is such that they shed off too much dander or fur, groom them regularly. Have this task performed by someone without allergies. Moreover, take your dog for routine check-ups to identify any skin allergies in them. Even if the condition is not contagious, it will impact your pet’s quality of life if not diagnosed early. 

Air Purifiers 

Allergens can circulate in the indoor air for long periods. This is why it is important to have air purifiers in each room, especially your child’s nursery. Introduce air-purifying plants like Areca Palm, Peace Lily, Bromeliads, or Dracaena. Amp up this natural air-purifying with electric ones that have a HEPA filter for maximum results. 

Can a Child Outgrow Such Allergic Reactions? 

Even if you discover that your child is allergic to your dog, there is good news. They can outgrow this stage by building up immunity to dog allergies. This is possible through a treatment called immunotherapy. 

Under this treatment, the child’s immune system will gradually be exposed to known allergens found in dogs. The aim is to train the body for less sensitivity over time. Allergic reactions can significantly decrease after consistent immunotherapy sessions. 

It’s time to wrap up, but not without mentioning an interesting recent study. It has been discovered that children living with pets from their infancy are less likely to develop food allergies. 

If the dog was already present within the household while the child was in utero, the risk was lowered by 14%. This means your pooch is good for your child but can also cause allergies. If you suspect your kid may be allergic to your pet, follow the tips mentioned in this article. The bottom line is to keep everyone safe, healthy, and happy!