Dog allergies are pretty common. People who have allergic reactions to dogs are usually reacting to the pet’s dander, which is made up of secreted proteins from dead skins cells, saliva or urine. (Yuck!)
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Eventually these proteins make their way to the pet’s fur, or it could settle on your clothes, couches and carpets.
If you’re allergic to dogs, you might find yourself suddenly itching, coughing or wheezing when there’s one around. But what if you could better narrow down the dog you’re allergic to?
Is your friend’s female pug causing your sneezing attacks? Or is it the male Labrador retriever that’s triggering your allergy misery?
Now, there’s a precise allergy test ― called an in vitro allergen test ― that gives you details about whether you’re allergic to a female or male dog.
How the allergy test works
Ear, nose and throat specialist Michael Benninger, MD, says it’s sometimes hard to know if your allergic reaction is to furry animals in general, or if it’s to one very specific animal. The test can help identify what animal might be triggering your allergy attack.
This innovative test gives you much more information, unlike a skin test that may tell you that you’re allergic to cats and dogs when you’re actually, in fact, only allergic to one of them. It can assess your sensitivity to distinct types of furry animals, including dogs, cats and even horses.
The test can also pinpoint the exact protein that triggers your allergic reaction ― and from what animal or animals. And if you’re allergic to a male dog or female dog.
How is that possible? Dr. Benninger explains that about 40% of people who test positive for dog allergies are only allergic to prostate protein. And since only male dogs (obviously) have prostates, if everything else is negative, the person can be near a female dog and not have any sort of allergic reaction.
That means you can know which dogs to avoid. Or (yes!) which one you can adopt for your very own.
As of right now, testing for either male or female components is only available for dog allergies. But Dr. Benninger says the test is changing the game for allergies and helping to improve the quality of life for those that suffer from them.
Other uses for this type of allergy testing
This type of component allergy testing is quickly breaking new ground in common animal and food allergies involving proteins.
These specific protein tests can help to refine the major culprits in people who have multiple allergies where there may be overlap in traditional allergy tests, so that allergy avoidance can be maximized and treatment individualized.
The same test can also help determine serious, life-threatening reactions in those who have peanut allergies.
For example, about 77% of those who are allergic to peanuts are not at risk for anaphylaxis (a severe response including swelling, hives, lowered blood pressure and sometimes shock). This could help some of those PB&J lovers who don’t really have to avoid peanuts altogether.