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Allergic To Dogs? The Dog’s Gender May Be To Blame

Up to 30% of people are allergic to only a specific protein in the male dog. A female or neutered dog may solve the problem!

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Love dogs but are plagued by allergies? You may be allergic to just the males.

Scientists have, to date, identified six specific dog allergens. You can be allergic to one or some of the dog allergens, but not others. One of these allergens is found only in male dogs. Find the best dog breeds for people that suffer with allergies.

"Up to 30 percent of people who are allergic to dogs are actually allergic to one specific protein that's made in the prostate of a dog," said Dr. Lakiea Wright, an allergist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

If you’re one of these people, you may finally be able to enjoy canine company—provided the dog is female or neutered, says Dr. Wright.

How do you know if you fall into this camp? A blood test for the allergen, approved by the FDA last May, can
tell you.

When a dog-allergy is suspected, allergists test for that whole allergen, Dr. Wright explains. But then they drill down further to look at the specific proteins that comprise the allergy.

One of these proteins is Can f 5, made in the prostate of male dogs. When the dog urinates, the lightweight protein, easily dispersed in the air, can spread to the dog’s skin and hair, as well as furniture and clothes, causing allergies in those allergic to that specific protein.

How do you know if the test is for you? Start paying attention—have you ever found yourself sneezing only—or more—around male dogs? Explain your symptoms to your allergy doctor. If your history indicates, doctors can test for a reaction to Can f 5.

Though many people are allergic to animals with fur, it's not actually the hair of the animal that triggers the allergic reaction. Rather, proteins in the urine, saliva, and dander of the dog or cat trigger sensitive immune systems to react. 

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