We love our furry friends just as much as our other family members. That’s what makes it so heartbreaking when an avid dog lover discovers they have a dog allergy to their best friend. What many of us don’t realize is that allergies can be managed – you don’t have to consider giving up on the family dog.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to manage an allergic reaction to dogs.
Recognizing the symptoms
The first step in creating a home that’s safe for your dog and livable for anyone with a dog allergy is to understand the symptoms of an allergic reaction to your dog. Here is a list of common allergy symptoms that may indicate an allergy to your pet.
- General puffiness in the face
- Itchy, watery, swollen eyes
- Constantly runny nose
- Itchy skin and in some cases hives
It’s important to keep in mind that these are all common symptoms of allergies in general – it may not be your dog that’s causing the problem. You should develop an overall approach to removing exposure to allergens in the home – not just from pets.
Short of giving up your dog what are your options?
If you’ve consulted with your doctor and/or an allergy specialist and it’s clear that your dog is the cause of your allergies, don’t despair, there are things you can do to manage the situation.
There are many medications you can try such as Benadryl, steroids, antihistamine sprays, and pills that may help. In more extreme cases you may need to visit an allergy specialist for a skin prick test. Once they’re sure it’s the dog causing the allergies they may begin a program of weekly or monthly shots to help you overcome the allergy. The whole process can take up to a year or more – there isn’t a quick fix.
There are no breeds that you can turn to that are completely non-allergenic. The allergens that dogs expose us to are in a protein in their saliva as well as dander from skin flakes they shed as they move around. All dogs place us at risk of being exposed to these allergens. There are some breeds though, that shed less hair and skin and they will make life better for allergy sufferers that still wish to be dog owners. Here are some of the top breeds that are considered allergy-friendly.
- Airdale Terrier
- Tibetan Terrier
- Irish Terrier
- Miniature Poodle
- Australian Terrier
Grooming your dog
Bathing your dog on a regular schedule will also help to reduce the number of allergens they leave around the house. You have to be careful not to overdo it though – too much bathing may be harmful to your dog’s coat and skin. A bath schedule of once every week or even once every other week should be safe for him or her and it will help to provide welcome relief for allergy sufferers in the home.
While it’s not possible to remove all of the allergens from the home, a regular cleaning schedule is another way to reduce your family’s exposure to allergens in the home. All surfaces need to be thoroughly cleaned, including curtains, carpets, furniture, and clothing. Clean your dog’s bed, blankets and toys regularly as well.
Dog hair is one of the main ways that pet dander is transmitted into the air so make sure to clean up any visible dog hair around the house. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter is ideal as these filters are more effective than other filters at removing small particles such as pet dander. Airhonest.com also recommends purchasing a true HEPA filter air purifier for the home to keep pet allergens and pet dander at bay between cleanings.
Cleaning your house
Cleaning your house if you’re the person suffering from pet allergies can be a challenge. It can make your symptoms worse, at least temporarily as you come in closer contact with the pet dander. If there’s someone in your home that is allergy-free, assigning them to cleaning duties is a good solution for this problem. A good way to divide household duties is to have the person with allergies to the family dog handle outdoor chores and non-allergenic family members concentrate on duties inside the home.
Creating dog-free areas of the home is another way to provide family members with allergies relief from their symptoms. You might want to make their bedroom off-limits for your dog, perhaps a basement recreation room could also be a dog-free area so that they have a place to go for some downtime away from the allergy zones. No room can ever be made completely free of pet dander as it will travel on clothing, but limiting where the dog can go in the home will help.
Training your dog to stay off furniture and beds is another way to prevent allergens from spreading. This can be a challenge because your family friend will want to be close to you, but with time and patience, it is possible.
Making lifestyle changes
Finally, consider changing your own habits. Wash your hands after any contact with your dog when possible and switch into clean pajamas right before bed and after you’ve said good night to your dog. Remember to shower before bed as well, this will allow you to have a better sleep without being covered in pet dander and other allergens. Following the tips in this article should make your home a comfortable place to live for allergy sufferers and a pet-friendly home for your dog.
Lori Wade is a journalist from Louisville. She is a content writer who has experience in small editions, Lori is now engaged in news and conceptual articles on the topic of pet care and veterinary. You can find her on LinkedIn.