Diagnosing a Dog Saliva Allergy
Dog saliva represents the main cause of dog allergies. More precisely, the saliva contains Canis familiaris allergen 1 (Can f 1), which is the most common dog allergen. Having this problem diagnosed is important since it may contribute to the development of bronchial hyperactivity and asthma in children. Becoming allergic to dog saliva bacteria does not necessarily imply constant exposure to the allergen. In fact, an allergic reaction may also develop in a place where these animals are not present on a regular basis.
There are several different ways of determining whether you have an allergic reaction to dog saliva. Most often, your doctor will opt for:
- Skin tests
- Allergy blood tests
Furthermore, skin tests are usually divided into:
- Skin prick test
- Intradermal skin test
Details on Skin Tests
Skin tests are preferred by most doctors because they are safe, fast, easy and do not involve any pain. Skin prick tests imply placing a few drops of allergen (in this case Can f 1) on your forearm or on your back. Next, the substance is absorbed by pricking the skin lightly with a special needle. If redness or swelling are observed after 10 to 20 minutes, the test is considered positive. However, there is an additional criterion that needs to be respected: the swelling needs to be larger than 3mm.
The second type of allergy skin test is used when the skin prick test provides unconclusive results. In this case, the allergen is injected through a needle into the outer layer of the skin. Any swelling that appears needs to be measured.
Despite being painless, fast, easy and safe, allergy skin tests are not always the best way to determine whether you are allergic to dog drool. In fact, such tests may identify allergens that do not cause any problems actually.
Allergy Blood Tests
Radioallergosorbent tests, more commonly known as allergy blood tests, imply mixing a blood sample taken from you with Can f 1, the allergen. This is performed in a laboratory and any reaction is reported back to your doctor. Allergy blood tests are currently less effective than skin tests, so the latter are almost always preferred.
A diagnosis method that combines both allergy skin and blood tests has been developed lately. Though, the new test, which is known under the name of ImmunoCap is still not as effective as a skin prick test. Since it is a new method, it requires further research, in order to improve the accuracy of the results.
In some cases, however, the tests may reveal no relation between Can f 1 and your allergy. In this case, the doctor will test your reaction to Can f 2 in order to determine a connection between your dog and the infection of your skin. This is the second canine protein that may cause allergic reactions. Unlike Can f 1, which abounds in the dog saliva, Can f 2 is typically produced by the parotyd gland. Regardless of the protein that leads to the reaction, the tests described above will confirm your diagnosis and will help your doctor to prescribe an adequate treatment.