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Dog Allergies

I am having trouble getting a straight answer about my daughters dog
allergies. She is 3 years old and according to my wife tested out at 4/5 on a skin test for dog allergies. My mother lives next door (she
married a Kagen from New York) and has a sheltie. My daughter always seems to develop a clear discharge about 24 hours after exposure. The house is dark, full of old furniture and has shag carpeting.

The problem is that my wife, who has severe mold allergies and cannot take steroids due to psychiatric side effects insists that my daughter not visit my mothers house due to the dog. I agree if that is the only thing to do. What measures can be taken to lessen the impact of the dog to a tolerable (and very safe) level for my daughter.

Thanks for the advice.

Dear Dave:

Thanks for asking about dog allergy.

In a perfect world, all animal allergic patients would be able to avoid pets which cause their symptoms. In your daughter's case, if she has reproducible flares of allergy and asthma symptoms each time she is around a dog, then all dogs should be avoided.

Having said this, however, it may not be the dog in your mom's house that is causing the allergy flares. Pets shed dander, and in doing so feed the house dust mites. Houses with pets and carpeting have high mite allergen levels. So, if your daughter is also allergic to mite allergens, then perhaps the carpeting can be removed from her "dog house". This may lessen the chances of your daughter having her allergy symptoms at your mom's house.

Another factor to remember is that an allergy skin test does not tell you what is going to happen. It tells us about the potential risks of allergy attacks.

So, some patients have really strongly positive skin tests to cat and dog allergens, and yet do not have allergy symptoms around their pets.

Allergy tests measure risks of allergy, much like a cholesterol level measures the risks of getting coronary heart disease.

Additionally, many pet allergic patients who are unwilling to get rid of their pets live comfortably by taking allergy medications such as cromolyn sodium, intranasal steroids (tiny doses), antihistamines and others.

Be certain to discuss your daughter's case with her Allergy Specialist to see if there is something else that may be useful to her, to you and your family.

Good luck.

Steve Kagen, M.D.