Why Do I Get Hives When My Dog Licks Me? Explained

Dogs are often considered man’s best friend, providing companionship, loyalty, and unconditional love. 

However, for some people, interacting with their furry friends can lead to an unexpected and uncomfortable reaction: hives. 

If you find yourself breaking out in hives whenever your dog showers you with affectionate licks, you may be wondering why this happens. 

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind this phenomenon and discuss how to manage it effectively.

Understanding Hives

Hives, scientifically known as urticaria, are raised, itchy, and often red welts that appear on the skin. 

They can vary in size and shape and may be accompanied by a burning or stinging sensation. 

Hives occur due to the release of histamine, a chemical that is released by specialized cells in the skin called mast cells. 

Histamine causes blood vessels to leak fluid, leading to swelling and the characteristic appearance of hives.

Allergic Reactions and Hives

In the context of your dog licking you, hives may be an indication of an allergic reaction. While it is relatively rare to be allergic to dogs themselves, it is possible to be allergic to certain proteins found in their saliva, urine, or dander. 

When your dog licks you, these proteins can come into contact with your skin, triggering an immune response in some individuals.

Dog Allergies and Their Symptoms

Allergies to dogs can manifest in various ways, and hives are just one possible symptom. 

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Other signs of an allergic reaction to dogs may include sneezing, coughing, itching, watery eyes, nasal congestion, or even difficulty breathing. 

It is essential to differentiate between hives caused by allergies and other potential factors, such as insect bites or contact dermatitis, which can also produce similar skin reactions.

Identifying the Triggers

To determine whether your dog’s saliva is the specific trigger for your hives, you may need to undergo allergy testing. 

This can be done through a skin prick test or a blood test, which can identify specific IgE antibodies associated with dog allergies. 

These tests can help pinpoint the allergens causing the reaction and provide insights into managing the condition effectively.

Managing Dog Allergies and Hives

If you are diagnosed with an allergy to dogs or their saliva, there are several measures you can take to manage the condition and reduce the likelihood of hives:

Minimize exposure: Limit your contact with your dog’s saliva as much as possible. Avoid letting your dog lick your face or any areas of your skin that are particularly sensitive.

Wash your hands: After interacting with your dog, wash your hands thoroughly with mild soap and water to remove any allergens that may be present.

Create dog-free zones: Designate certain areas of your home as dog-free zones, such as bedrooms or specific pieces of furniture. This can help reduce your exposure to allergens.

Regular grooming: Regularly grooming your dog, including brushing their coat and bathing them, can help reduce the amount of allergens present in their fur and saliva.

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Vacuum and clean frequently: Regularly vacuuming your home and using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can help remove allergens from your environment.

Consult an allergist: An allergist can provide personalized advice and recommend appropriate medications, such as antihistamines, nasal sprays, or even allergy shots, to help manage your symptoms.


While dogs are wonderful companions, it can be distressing to experience hives after your dog licks you. Allergic reactions to proteins in your dog’s saliva are a possible cause of this phenomenon. 

Understanding the triggers, getting a proper diagnosis, and implementing appropriate measures to manage your dog allergies can help minimize the occurrence of hives and allow you to continue enjoying the company of your furry friend. 

Remember to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance tailored to your specific situation.