Woman next to dog sneezing and experiencing allergic reaction

How to test if you are allergic to dogs

Medically reviewed on August 1, 2022 by Amy Harris, RN. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

If you find yourself sneezing, itching, or fending off congestion around dogs, you may suspect you are allergic to dogs.

Canine allergies can be particularly bothersome, especially if you’re a pet owner or animal lover. Fortunately, having a dog allergy won’t necessarily prevent you from interacting with canine companions for the rest of your life—and allergy testing can be a powerful tool for helping you determine your pet allergy status.

In this guide, we’ll break down dog allergy basics, how to test if you are allergic to dogs, and how you can prevent allergic reactions to maintain your quality of life.

Dog allergies 101

It’s important to understand that any allergy, whether to peanuts or our furry friends, is a result of an immune system irregularity. [1]

When people with a dog allergy are introduced to a harmless substance such as dog dander, hair, or saliva, their immune system incorrectly identifies that substance as a threat. This sets off a cascade of defensive immune responses, which may include:

  • Production of antibodies, particularly immunoglobulin E (IgE)
  • Inflammation
  • Anaphylaxis (in severe cases)

It’s difficult to determine just how many people in the US are allergic to dogs because this type of allergy often goes unreported. However, experts estimate that between 10% and 20% of the population have an allergy to cats, dogs, or both. [2]

Some common symptoms of dog allergies include:

  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Red, itchy, or swollen eyes
  • Coughing
  • Hives, rash, or itchy skin
  • Sneezing
  • Itching in the mouth or throat

When to seek a dog allergy test

If you’re concerned you may have been showing dog allergy symptoms, you don’t have to wait until you have a severe reaction to be screened for one. You may want to get tested if: [3]

  • Someone in your family has dog allergies – While not all allergies are hereditary, some can run in families. If someone in your immediate family has an allergy to dogs, you may want to seek testing even if you haven't had an allergic reaction yet.
  • You have another immune or respiratory condition – If you have asthma, emphysema, or an auto-immune disorder, experiencing an allergic reaction could present a significantly greater hazard to your health. In these cases, it’s important to seek out allergy testing as a preventative measure.
  • You consistently experience discomfort around dogs – Regularly experiencing inflammation, respiratory difficulties, or physical discomfort when you’re around dogs, it’s recommended you seek out testing. This can help you prevent future reactions by giving you a complete picture of your health.

Types of allergy tests

There are four types of tests you can use to determine whether or not you have a dog allergy: [4]

  1. Intradermal skin testing – In intradermal testing, a healthcare provider will inject a small amount of the allergen under your skin. Then, they’ll observe your body’s immune response for signs of hyper-reactivity to the suspected allergen.
  2. Skin prick testing (SPT) – Also called “scratch testing,” SPT testing is similar to intradermal skin testing. A healthcare provider places a small amount of a dog allergen onto your skin, pricking the surrounding area to increase your exposure to the substance. Providers then observe your reaction over a short waiting period to determine your inhalant allergy status.
  3. Challenge tests – During this testing method, a healthcare provider exposes you to an allergen via inhalation or ingestion to observe your response. Challenge tests are closely monitored by healthcare providers who will be able to administer emergency support if you have a severe reaction.
  4. Blood testing – During blood allergy testing, you’ll provide a small blood sample to be sent to a lab. Then, technicians will introduce the animal allergen to your blood sample to observe whether or not your blood produces an antibody (IgE) to attack it. If they detect elevated IgE levels in your blood test sample, this may indicate the presence of an allergy.

While the first three tests must be done in a healthcare provider’s office, blood testing is also available via at-home allergy test kits. At-home blood testing can be a convenient option for people with busy schedules or lacking access to nearby healthcare facilities.

Preventing dog allergy symptoms

Whether you’re a pet owner yourself or you routinely experience discomfort around dogs, you may still be able to enjoy the company of animal companions. If you discover that you are allergic to dogs, try taking the following steps to prevent a reaction:

  • Take over-the-counter allergy medications before and during periods spent around dogs
  • Invest in an air purifier if you have a dog at home to minimize exposure to dog allergens
  • Lint-roll furniture and clothing to get rid of fur and pet dander Keep dogs out of the bedroom where an allergic person sleeps

Get dog allergy testing delivered to you with Everlywell

If you suspect you are allergic to dogs, it can be helpful to check with an at-home allergy test. With our at-home test, you’ll provide a small blood sample, ship it to our CLIA-certified labs using pre-paid postage included with the kit, and receive IgE test results with a quick turnaround.

Pet allergy symptoms: causes and remedies

Mold allergy symptoms and testing

Ragweed allergy symptoms


  1. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Allergic reaction Defined. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  2. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs, Cats, or Other Animals?. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  3. National Library of Medicine. Allergies: Overview. URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
  4. National Library of Medicine. What kinds of allergy tests are there? URL. Accessed August 1, 2022.
Everlywell makes lab testing easy and convenient with at-home collection and digital results in days. Learn More