Are you allergic to your dog?

May 19th, 2007 by Kathy Hawkins

You’ve just adopted an amazing dog. You let her sit beside you on the couch, eat scraps from your dinner plates, and maybe even sleep beside you in bed. But you’ve noticed you aren’t feeling like your usual, chipper self lately — your nose itches, your eyes are always red and watery, and you might even have trouble breathing.

If this is the case, you’re not alone. As much as 15% of the population has allergies to pets, including cats, birds, and yes, our favorite canine companions.

If you know in advance that you’re allergic, it’s probably not in your interest to get a dog, considering the inconvenience and discomfort that you’ll have to deal with. Even if you love dogs, you can get your fix by volunteering as a dog walker with a local animal shelter. That way, as soon as you wash your hands and clothes, you should be back to normal. You may also be able to find a breed of dog that doesn’t set off your allergies — make sure to spend time with a dog before committing to take her home, but some of the best dogs for people who suffer from allergies are Bichon Frises, Shih Tzus, Malteses, and Wheaten Terriers. A list of other possibilities can be found here.

A maltese dog: one of the best options for people with allergies. Photo by Carol Bancroft.

But what if you’ve already gotten a dog and just discovered that you’re allergic, or have moved in with someone who has a dog? Does Fido really have to go?

In most cases, depending on the severity of the allergy, you should be able to find ways to co-exist without too much trouble. The trick is in allergy-proofing the house, so that you don’t feel awful all day long. Here are some tips:

Keep the dog out of your bedroom. Even if she whimpers and whines about it, don’t give in. Even if you have to deal with allergy problems during the day, you deserve a good night’s sleep. You’ll also want to buy a HEPA air filtration system to remove pet dander and other allergens from the air. Hypoallergenic mattress and pillow covers can also be helpful.

Place air filtration systems throughout the house, and vacuum frequently. Both of these will go a long way to reduce the amount of dog dander in the air. Carpets — especially shag carpets — have a tendency to trap allergens, so get rid of them if possible.

Start taking allergy pills on a daily basis, or see your doctor for immunotherapy shot treatment. Both of these methods can really help to ease your discomfort around your pet. Talk to your doctor for details about the best method for you.

Even though it can be a pain when your dog causes allergy problems, she shouldn’t be the one to suffer. Follow these steps, and check out more helpful tips from the Humane Society. An ultimatum doesn’t have to be the answer — do what you can to make the house comfortable for both you and your dog, and you’ll both be happy for it.

4 Responses to “Are you allergic to your dog?”

  1. Puppy Paws Says:

    I suffer with allergies to cats and dogs but have found that I can tolerate some breeds. I have found that short haired breeds (I have a Doberman) do not affect me as much as ones with longer or thicker coats. I do believe that you can become desensitised after awhile. I have had my Dobe for 4 years now and generally I am ok as I do not allow my dog acess to the bedrooms or lie on the sofa. If I have been stroking him I have to wash my hands or within minutes my eyes are itching and I start to sneeze. Also it can vary through the year with summer months being the worse. Someone once suggested that I should not have a dog. To me that is like saying give up breathing!

  2. Sandra Says:

    I am having the same symtoms. I have a yellow lab which we had from 6 weeks, he is now 1 year and 2 months, then we got a shepherd at 5 weeks, he is now 8 months. I am not sure which one I am allergic to but the lab sheds but not the shepherd. They both have been in my house and on our beds and sofa. My eyes (mostly right eye) has been being red and watery. It clears up and 2 days later, the same thing. I am so tired of going to the doctors about red watery eyers. If you know what can be wrong, please let me know. Thanks.

  3. Time for A Presidential Poodle! - Poodle Breed Guide Says:

    [...] poodles are, among all dogs, among the few that are certifiably hypoallergenic. The list includes breeds like the Maltese, Bichon Frise, and Shih Tzus, but these are what my [...]

  4. Shazz Says:

    How to Avoid Allergens
    Avoiding allergens should be the first step in treating your dog’s allergies. If you suspect your dog may have allergies, see your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

    If you dog is allergic to dust mites, vets suggest you use a plastic cover over your dog’s bed, use a waterproof liner to keep mites from getting in the bed, avoid letting your dog on upholstered furniture and avoid stuffed animals. Dogs with dust mite allergies do best in uncarpeted rooms. Be sure to vacuum very frequently.

    If you dog has allergic reactions to pollens, keep him out of fields and tall grasses. Keep your lawn cut short and keep your dog indoors during days with high pollen counts.

    How Are Allergies Treated in Dogs?
    Typically, mild allergies are treated with soothing shampoos liked oatmeal shampoo, vitamins containing essential fatty acids to help stop itching and keep skin from getting dry. Hydrocortisone spray or shampoo may also help to relieve itching. Check with your vet for other recommendations.

    Best Dog Breeds If YOU Have Allergies
    If you suffer from dog allergies, the following dog breeds may be a good choice for you because they don’t shed much, or have hair rather than fur: Terriers, Chinese Crested (hairless), Italian Greyhound, Maltese (has coat similar to human hair), Shih Tzu (has hair rather than fur), Poodle (little shedding).

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