The littles are allergic to dogs—or so you thought. If you have dreams of adopting a new furry friend for your allergy-prone fam, you may be in luck—that is, if you prefer Fifi to Fido.
Dr. Lakiea Wright, an allergist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, told CNN, “Up to 30% of people who are allergic to dogs are actually allergic to one specific protein that’s made in the prostate of a dog.” With the FDA approval of a blood test for the allergen last May, doctors can now identify whether you (or your child) can live with male dogs or not.
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Wright went on to add, “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.”
If you’re all in for a hairless pup to avoid allergies, think again. According to Wright there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Instead, it’s the proteins (such as the one male dogs make) that influence allergies. Wright noted, “When we suspect a dog allergy, we’re testing for that whole allergen. But then we’re also looking at specific proteins, the parts that make up the whole, to refine that diagnoses.”
When it comes to male dogs, the docs look for the Can f 5 protein, which is made in the prostate. Not only can these proteins spread to the dog’s skin and hair, but they can also end up in the air, on furniture or on clothing.
Keep in mind, it’s possible for you (or your child) to have a reaction to more than one dog protein. There are five already-identified allergy-causing proteins dogs make. Even if you’re cleared for the Can f 5 protein, you may still have an allergy to any of the other four.