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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1999 Apr;103(4):581-5.

Washing the dog reduces dog allergen levels, but the dog needs to be washed twice a week.

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  • 1North West Lung Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, UK.



Many asthmatic patients allergic to dogs refuse to part with their dog, and it is essential to develop techniques for lowering exposure with a dog in the home.


This study investigated the effect of dog washing on the subsequent recovery of Can f 1 from dog hair clippings and on the airborne allergen over a 7-day period.


Dogs, which had not been washed for at least the previous 3 weeks, were washed with a hand-held shower and proprietary shampoo. Hair clippings and dander samples from 25 dogs were collected before and immediately after washing. After these initial studies, 16 dogs had a small tuft of hair clipped from the collar or spinal area before washing and then daily for the next 7 days. Air sampling was performed in 5 homes, and the air samples were collected (airflow rate, 9 L/min) over an 8-hour period per day on 10 consecutive days (3 days of baseline sampling before washing and then 7 consecutive days after washing). Can f 1 level was measured by using 2-site ELISA.


Washing significantly reduced recoverable Can f 1 from clippings (84% reduction: from 73 microg/g to 12 microg/g [geometric mean]; P <.0001) and from dander samples (86% reduction: from 347 microg/g to 50 microg/g [geometric mean]; P <.0001). There was a significant reduction in Can f 1 levels in dog hair over the observed 8-day period (F = 18.4, P <. 0001). By using a multiple comparison test, this observed significance was found to be due to the difference between the baseline levels and those on days 1 and 2 after washing, with no difference in the baseline Can f 1 compared with days 3 to 7. Airborne Can f 1 levels showed a downward trend, which reached statistical significance when the data were grouped into 3 sampling periods as follows: baseline (ie, mean of 3 days before sampling) was compared with days 1 to 4 after washing (41% reduction, 95% CI 13%-60%) and days 5 to 7 after washing (61% reduction, 95% CI 2%-84%; P =.014).


Washing the dog reduces recoverable allergen from dog hair and dander. The dog needs to be washed at least twice a week to maintain the reduction in recoverable Can f 1 from its hair. Washing the dog achieves a modest reduction in the level of airborne Can f 1 in homes with a dog.

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