People With Dog Allergies May Only Be Allergic to Male Pups: Study
Tue, April 20, 2021

People With Dog Allergies May Only Be Allergic to Male Pups: Study

There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to do something you like, and for dog lovers, that's being allergic to pups. Allergy shots are usually the go-to treatment to get around the sneeze fest / Photo by: lightfieldstudios via 123RF

 

There's nothing more frustrating than not being able to do something you like, and for dog lovers, that's being allergic to pups. Allergy shots are usually the go-to treatment to get around the sneeze fest. Experts say there's another solution to this problem: neutering the male pup or opting for a female dog.

 

Identifying the Allergen

The protein that causes dog allergies was identified years ago, but a reliable blood test was only approved in May. Out of the total number of people with this allergy, allergist Lakiea Wright said up to 30% are allergic to that specific prostrate protein.

"If you're allergic to only that specific protein in the male dog, you may be able to tolerate a female or a neutered dog," Wright told CNN.

The news agency says the male-specific protein has been identified as Can f 5, which spreads to the dog's skin and hair when they urinate. Can f 5 proteins are very lightweight, making it easier for them to disperse in the air as the animals move around.

"They can also stay in the air for a long time and land on our furniture, mattress, even our clothes," Wright noted. Once it gets on people's clothes, the allergens go to places where a pet has never been.

Six known dog-specific allergens could affect 3 in 10 people with any allergy, CNN says. However, being allergic to one or more of the dog proteins means not being allergic to others—affecting which breed or gender will trigger an allergic reaction.

Since all dogs make one or more types of proteins, Wright said there's no such thing as a "hypoallergenic" dog.

"When we suspect a dog allergy, we're testing for that whole allergen," the allergist explained. "But then we're also looking at specific proteins, the parts that make up the whole, to refine that diagnoses."

Diagnosing Allergies

To find out if you are allergic to male dogs, Wright suggests giving your allergy doctor a history of your symptoms (when it began and if the reaction occurs only or mostly around male pups).

It's also important to know the number of allergies you have. The allergist said more than three specific types can increase a person's vulnerability to developing asthma or other breathing problems.

Doctors can test for a reaction to Can f 5 through skin pricking or blood testing based on your history. If the results for this test come out negative but you still have a reaction, CNN advises limiting your exposure to allergens and the symptoms they produce.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends taking these steps:

• Changing your clothes after being around pets.
• Asking a family member, who doesn't have a pet allergy, to clean the pet's litter box or bedding.
• Keep the pet out of your room, which should be thoroughly cleaned since pet allergens can stay for months. You may also consider getting a HEPA air cleaner after.
• If possible, remove the wall-to-wall carpet where allergens are likely to stick around. It's best to leave your walls and floors bare.
• Wear a mask when vacuuming since it can stir up allergens that have settled on the floor.
• Visit a specialist to check your allergies.

To find out if you are allergic to male dogs, Wright suggests giving your allergy doctor a history of your symptoms / Photo by: Eric Krouse via 123RF

 

Prevalence of Dog Allergies

Dog allergies are a pervasive problem affecting a significant percentage of the global population. In Korea, an estimated 15.7% of adults report being allergic to pups and the same could be said to 8.9% of Sri Lankans.

Over in the Zhengzhou district of China, 34.5% of the population was found to have allergies to dog hair as well as 15.6% in European schoolchildren, according to a 2018 study on dog and cat allergies.

There is an upward trend to the prevalence of animal sensitization, although the absolute numbers vary on the tests used. Along with this is the rise of pet ownership around the globe. For instance, about 22% of South Korean households had at least one pet in 2016—nearly a notable increase from 17.4% five years earlier—driven by the rise in single-person households.

"Increasing numbers of sensitized individuals along with increasing dog ownership will lead to more affected people," the study said. "The identification of dog allergic individuals is critically important since exposure to dog allergens in dog sensitized individuals increased bronchial hyper-responsiveness and susceptibility to asthma attacks."

It added that the current method to reduce allergic symptoms is limiting exposure to allergens. However, studies have shown that early introduction of pets in households may also prevent the development of sensitization.

Still, additional study is needed to identify the timing and level of exposure to provide ample protection—especially among individuals whose persistent exposure may lead to morbidity and mortality.

"The ability to truly study dog induced allergic symptoms requires the accurate and consistent identification of sensitized individuals which, to date, is still lacking...Studies on the diagnosis and treatment of dog allergies remain inconsistent and difficult to generalize even though dog allergies are a pervasive problem."