Suffering from an allergy to your dog or puppy can make your life very miserable, but this is even more amplified if the family member that suffers is your baby or toddler. Identifying and diagnosing allergies in babies and toddlers up to the age of around three can be challenging, as your child will not have the necessary vocabulary to tell you about the discomfort that they are experiencing, or how it is affecting them.
If you have a dog and a baby or young child, it is a good idea to find out a little bit about the signs and symptoms of allergies in very young children, so that if you do spot a problem, you will know how to identify it and what can be done to resolve things.
In this article, we will look at babies and young children and potential allergies to dogs in more detail. Read on to learn more!
Allergic reactions to dogs and other elements occur due to a hypersensitive immune reaction on the part of the baby’s body, which incorrectly identifies certain protein compounds produced by the dog as a threat to their system, and reacts accordingly. It is the symptoms and immune response that the body produces that causes discomfort and allergies in people, and this is what you will observe if your baby is sensitive to your dog.
Exactly what it is that your baby is allergic to can be variable, and this may be the dander, or shed skin flakes of your dog, or their saliva. Added to this, dog fur can trap tiny spores of pollen, mould and dust, and all of these things may trigger an allergic response in babies and toddlers prone to them, meaning that it is possible that the dog itself is not the culprit, but whatever is hitching a ride in their fur!
When your baby comes into contact with their particular allergenic trigger, the body’s histamine response system will generate symptoms, which can include any or all of the following:
Working with your doctor to identify the specific thing or things that your child is allergic to is the key to tackling and managing the issue. Allergies to dogs can first of all easily be told apart from seasonal allergies, as seasonal allergies of course come and go throughout the year, while an allergy to dogs will present with symptoms whenever your child is in the dog’s presence or home.
However, consistent, ongoing symptoms may either be due to your dog itself and the protein chains produced by their skin and saliva, or as mentioned, dust, mould or pollen that is present on your dog’s fur.
Removing your dog from the home, or taking your child on holiday for a while without the dog can help you to identify if the dog is the cause, but because your dog will leave traces of skin cells and other potential allergens in the home too, in the short term, any changes may not become apparent.
As soon as you spot symptoms that may potentially indicate an allergy to your dog (or anything else) in your child, you should make your GP aware of this, and work with them to first of all narrow down the source of the allergy. Your doctor may well refer you to a specialist allergist to further investigate this, particularly if your child is very young, or very acutely affected by their allergies.
Allergists are specialist doctors and scientists who will work with you to narrow down the source of your baby’s reactions, which may mean undertaking a range of tests and exposure trials on your baby to find out what the problem is. Some of the potential tests that may be required include:
If your baby or toddler is diagnosed as being sensitive to your dog or dogs in general, understandably this leaves you as parents with a huge dilemma. Ultimately, it may mean that the dog may need to be rehomed in order to avoid compromising the health and comfort of the child, but this is not the only possible approach, and there are other things that you may wish to try first, depending on how severe your baby’s allergies are.
If you have managed to ascertain that your baby or toddler is allergic to dogs before you actually get a dog, you will likely find that your child is more sensitive to some dogs than others, with some dogs potentially not triggering an allergic reaction in your child at all.
This means that if you do wish to own a dog, you can pick a dog that your baby does not react badly to, and while you should take each dog on a case by case basis and ensure that your baby does not react badly to it before you bring it home, some breeds and types of dogs are often less likely to trigger allergies than most others.
Low-shedding breeds such as the Labradoodle, Poodle, or Cockapoo are just three of these; however, remember to consider every dog on a case by case basis, as allergies are complex, and just because your baby does not appear to be allergic to one dog, does not mean that other dogs of the same type or breed will similarly be a good pick for them.