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Other Respiratory Tract Disorders
Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
Idiopathic Intersitial Lung Disease

Environmental Antigens - Dogs

Q: What are potential human health problems associated with inside dogs?


A: There are several potential health problems that have been associated with inside dogs.


1. The most common are classic allergic responses manifested by nasal symptoms of sneezing, runny nose, and congestion; ocular symptoms of tearing, itching, and redness; and asthma symptoms of cough, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Some individuals may note skin itching and hives upon contact with the dog. These reactions occur as a result of allergic antibodies (IgE) directed toward dog dander, saliva, and peri-anal and other organ secretions.


2. Infections, or infestations, may occur from dogs that harbor parasites. Hookworm, roundworm, and heartworm infections may occur in humans (18) as a result of ingestion of fecal material that becomes deposited within the home. Fleas and ticks may be brought into the home by the dog leading to skin symptoms from bites. Some parasites migrate through the lungs during certain stages of development which may cause and eosinophilic pneumonitis or dermatoses.


3. Inside dogs have been associated with high levels of endotoxin. (15) Endotoxin is a product of gram negative bacteria which has been associated with severity of asthma in both children and adults. (16, 17)
Our experience with home investigations has confirmed that high levels of bacteria are often associated with inside animals, both dogs and cats.


4. Dogs and cats, particularly males, may "mark territory" within the home, usually over a carpeted area. This results in excessive moisture beneath the carpet pad at the floor level. Urine beneath a carpet pad is a good media to grow mold and bacteria to levels sufficient to cause disease in humans. (2)