Dog Dander
Allergy Facts, Symptoms, and Treatment

Up to 60 percent of European and U.S. households contain pets, and cats and dogs are the two most popular varieties.1 In fact, there are an estimated 77.5 million dog owners in the United States alone.2 Unfortunately, dog allergy is a common cause of asthma and allergic rhinitis (aka hay fever) worldwide, and it affects 5 to 10 percent of the adult population.3 These individuals are sensitized to one or more allergens, which are present in dog hair, dander, and saliva and can be easily transported in the air.4 The allergens stick to animal hair and dander and are easily dispersed; plus, they can linger suspended in air for long periods of time.1,5 Allergens can also attach to clothes and be transported to myriad places including indoor environments.

Those allergic to dog dander and/or saliva may experience symptoms when allergenic proteins are inhaled (either via direct or indirect contact with a dog) and when delivered via dog bite.1 While some claim that certain breeds are hypoallergenic, a truly allergen-free breed of dog doesn t exist.6

Where is dog dander found?

While dog allergens are present in the animal's hair, dander, and saliva, they can become airborne and linger suspended in air for long periods.1,5 Plus, they can end up in myriad environments, including those with or without dogs, such as schools, daycare centers, households, and transportation centers, where they can cause year-round symptoms.1 These allergens also can cling to many surfaces, such as bedding, clothing, and upholstered furniture, making them ubiquitous and difficult to eliminate. They may remain for several months.1,5,8

Prepare for your next visit with your healthcare provider. 

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Learn about specific IgE allergy testing options.

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Are there other allergens I could be sensitized to?*

Some people with a dog allergy may also experience symptoms when exposed to dander, saliva, and urine from other mammalian animals such as cats, guinea pigs, horses, pigs, chickens, sheep, goats, rabbits, and hamsters. In addition, ingestion of foods such as milk, eggs, and beef may also elicit symptoms.1 This is called cross-reactivity and occurs when your body's immune system identifies the proteins, or components, in different substances as being structurally similar or biologically related, thus triggering a response.1

Knowing the proteins, or components, within each allergen that are triggering your symptoms can help guide your management plan. With that in mind, and based on your symptom history, your healthcare provider may suggest something called a specific IgE component test, which can help reveal the risk profile you belong to. Results from this test can also help your healthcare provider decide if immunotherapy may reduce your symptoms.1

Already have your specific IgE component test results?

Your component test results will include the name of the components (a series of letters and numbers). Your healthcare provider will likely review the results with you, but here you'll find an at-a-glance breakdown you can use as a reference. Simply match the component names to the list below to see what they mean in terms of symptom management.1,10

rCan f 1, rCan f 2

  • Indicates that symptoms may be caused specifically by dog.
  • Associated with persistent rhinitis and/or asthma.
  • Dog allergen immunotherapy may be an option.

rCan f 5

  • Indicates that symptoms may be caused specifically by dog.
  • Because this is a hormone driven prostate-specific protein, sensitization to only this protein suggests that female or castrated dogs may be tolerated.

rCan f 3, rCan f 6 

  • Dogs or mammalian pets, e.g., cats, horses, and mice, may cause symptoms due to cross-reactivity.
  • Ingestion of milk and beef may elicit symptoms due to cross-reactivity. Cooked meat and milk may be tolerated.

rCan f 4    

  • Indicates that symptoms may be caused specifically by dog.

Test results should be interpreted by your healthcare provider in the context of your clinical history. Final diagnosis and decision on further management is made by your healthcare provider.

*These products may not be approved for clinical use in your country. Please work with your healthcare provider to understand availability.

How do I manage my allergy?

If you are allergic to dog dander, your healthcare provider may recommend a plan that includes the following.5,8,9,11,12

The best way to reduce exposure is to keep dogs out of your home and to avoid visiting environments with dogs. However, if you can't bear to give up an existing pet, the following strategies may help reduce allergen exposure.

  • Prevent the dog from entering the bedroom, keep the door closed, and clean the bedroom aggressively. Also consider using a HEPA air cleaner in the bedroom.
  • Remove wall-to-wall carpet and scrub the walls and woodwork. Keep surfaces throughout the home clean and uncluttered. Bare floors and walls are best.
  • If you must have carpet, select one with a low pile and steam clean it frequently. Better yet, use throw rugs and wash them in hot water.
  • Use a vacuum with a certified asthma and allergy friendly filter, and wear a dust mask when vacuuming.
  • Refrain from touching your eyes after handling a dog, and wash your hands immediately. Also change your clothes if possible.
  • Add an air cleaner combined with a certified asthma and allergy friendly filter to central heating and air conditioning systems to help remove allergens from the air.
  • Remove pillows and other items that may act as a reservoir.
  • Wash the pet and pet bedding frequently.

Your healthcare provider may direct you to employ one of the following therapies to improve your allergy symptoms:

  • Antihistamines are commonly used to reduce symptoms such as sneezing, itching, and runny nose.
  • Nasal corticosteroids are used to reduce swelling in the nose and block allergic reactions.
  • Decongestants can be employed to relieve stuffiness.
  • Allergen immunotherapy, as directed by your healthcare provider, may help develop tolerance to dog dander exposure.

If you're with someone who's having an allergic reaction and shows signs of shock, act fast. Look for pale, cool, and clammy skin; a weak, rapid pulse; trouble breathing; confusion; and loss of consciousness. Do the following immediately:

  • Call local emergency services.
  • Ensure the person is lying down and elevate his or her legs.
  • Administer epinephrine immediately for any obvious signs of a potentially severe systemic reaction.
  • Check the person’s pulse and breathing and administer CPR or other first-aid measures if necessary.

Looking for more allergy info and management tips?

Visit the Living with Allergies section

Common Symptoms

Symptoms of dog allergy can include:7

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy, red, or water eyes
  • Nasal congestion
  • Itchy nose, mouth, or throat
  • Postnasal drip
  • Cough
  • Facial pressure and pain
  • Frequent awakening form sleep
  • Swollen, blue-colored skin under eyes

If you have asthma, you may also experience symptoms such as:7

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

In addition, some people may also experience symptoms of allergic dermatitis after direct contact with a dog. These symptoms may include:7

  • Raised red patches of skin (hives)
  • Eczema
  • Itchy skin

Although most pet-allergy symptoms occur within minutes of exposure, symptoms in some allergic individuals build over time and become most severe eight to 12 hours later.6

How do I know if I'm allergic?*

Together with your symptom history, skin-prick testing or specific IgE blood testing can help determine if you are allergic to a particular allergen. If you are diagnosed with an allergy, your healthcare provider will work with you to create a management plan.

*These products may not be approved for clinical use in your country. Please work with your healthcare provider to understand availability.

Is there a risk for a severe event?

Sensitization to furry animals is common and a risk factor for the development of allergic rhinitis and asthma.1 In fact, high levels of IgE for cat, dog, and horse allergen components are markers for severe asthma. Plus, sensitization to all three animals at the same time is a marker for increased risk of severe asthma.1,9 Also note that some animal bites are capable of producing anaphylaxis, but it's unusual for a dog bite to evoke this reaction.1

  1. EAACI, et al. Molecular allergology user's guide. Pediatric Allergy Immunol. 2016 May;27 Suppl 23:1-250. do: 10.1111/pai.12563. PMID: 27288833. (123-130 p.) Available from:
  2. Portnoy J. World Allergy Organization [Internet]. Milwaukee, WI: World allergy Organization; 2004 Dec [2018 Mar]. Available from:
  3. Polovic N, Wadén K, Binnmyr J, Hamsten C, Grönneberg R, Palmberg C, Milcic-Matic N, Bergman T, Grönlund H, van Hage M. Dog saliva - an important source of dog allergens. Allergy. 2013;68(5):585-92. doi: 10.1111/all.12130. Epub 2013 Mar 7. PMID: 23464525; PMCID: PMC3652036. Available from:
  4. Baxi SN, Phipatanakul W. The role of allergen exposure and avoidance in asthma. Adolesc Med State Art Rev. 2010 Apr;21(1):57-71, viii-ix. PMID: 20568555; PMCID: PMC2975603. Available from:
  5. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America [Internet]. Arlington, VA: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; 2015 Oct.
    Available from:
  6. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology [Internet]. Milwaukee WI, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. 2020 Sep 28. Available from:
  7. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019 May 14. Available from:
  8. Harvard Health Publishing [Internet]. Boston, MA: Harvard Medical School; 2009 Oct. Available from:
  9. Dávila I, Domínguez-Ortega J, Navarro-Pulido A, Alonso A, Antolín-Amerigo D, González-Mancebo E, Martín-García C, Núñez-Acevedo B, Prior N, Reche M, Rosado A, Ruiz-Hornillos J, Sánchez MC, Torrecillas M. Consensus document on dog and cat allergy. Allergy. 2018 Jun;73(6):1206-1222. doi: 10.1111/all.13391. Epub 2018 Feb 13. PMID: 29318625.
  10. Liccardi G, Calzetta L, Milanese M, Lombardi C, Savi E, Passalacqua G, Rogliani P. Critical aspects in dog allergen immunotherapy (DAI). May Component Resolved Diagnosis (CRD) play a role in predicting the efficacy? Hum Vaccin Immunother. 2018 Jun 3;14(6):1438-1441. doi: 10.1080/21645515.2018.1434383. Epub 2018 Feb 23. PMID: 29381449; PMCID: PMC6037462.
  11. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019 May 14. Available from:
  12. Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Rochester, MN: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2019 Sep 14. Available from:,Oxygen%2C%20to%20help%20you%20breathe.