Allergy Sufferers and Dogs: A Survival Guide

An estimated 10% of dog owners are allergy sufferers. The allergens present in dogs are either the saliva or the dander. There is a protein that is present in both dander and saliva that will cause allergic reactions. Dog hair is not an allergen, as many people would think. If you are an allergic dog owner, you can live with your pet, but there are a few important things to consider in order to control your allergic reactions.

Detect the Allergies

The first step towards controlling the dog allergies is to detect if you are allergic. You may be allergic to something different in your environment or have a cold that manifests through similar symptoms.

If you suspect you may be allergic to your dog, you should look at a few symptoms that are indicative of dog allergies: sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose and in some cases rashes and difficulty breathing. Allergy testing can confirm that you are allergic to your pet.

Get Allergy Treatment

The treatment is essential in controlling your allergies to dogs. Typically, allergies cannot be treated, but they can be managed. If not managed, the allergies can get worse in time. There are two types of treatment you can get:

  • Short term treatment that can be made up of antihistamines or steroids or a combination of both, and these will be administered to reduce the symptoms, but can cause serious side effects and are not recommended as permanent treatment.
  • Immunization treatment, which can be more effective as a long term treatment and can reduce the allergy symptoms dramatically. However, the immunization shots will only be effective in approximately 80% of allergic people and start to be effective only after 6 months of injection treatment. Until this happens, antihistamines or steroids can be administered.

You may also get steroid creams if you experience rashes or skin irritation.

House Cleaning

Keeping your house clean can be the key to managing your allergic reactions. A lot of the dander shed by your dog will land on your furniture and you will inhale this even if your dog is not present.

Clean your home regularly and if possible, eliminate carpets, as these are more difficult to clean and tend to gather a lot of dog dander.

Pet Baths

Bathing your pet with a suitable shampoo can reduce the amount of shed dander by as much as 90%. Opt for shampoos that won't get your pet's skin dry. Pets with dry skin shed more dander.

Dog Diet

You may also watch your pet's diet, as this can cause dry skin. Wet food is more recommended, and make sure your pet gets all the needed nutrients. Add vitamin E and a few Omega-3 fatty acids to his diet, as these will keep his skin moist and reduce dander.

Wash Your Hands

Each time you play with your dog you should wash your hands. Chances are that the dog dander sticks to your hands and penetrates the skin, causing allergies. If you touch your face, the allergies can get worse.