How to Prevent Allergies to Dogs

There is little to compare to the misery of having a constant source of allergy in your home. Trying to prevent allergies can be difficult, but not impossible. Being able to keep a beloved dog around can make it worth the extra time and expense. 

Understanding an Allergy to Dogs

Generally it is dog saliva and sweat which causes the allergic reaction, rather than dog hair. The allergen compounds in the saliva attach to the dog's hair and so spread throughout the house when it sheds. These compounds can also stick to other fibers, like clothing or furniture, as well as become airborne, where they might be breathed in. So, even if furniture has no visible dog hair, it might still be contaminated with the allergen.

It is a common misconception that overexposure to dogs in early life causes this allergy. In fact, studies have shown that people who were raised in a household with an indoor dog are more likely to be allergy free than people who did not grow up with dogs.

Tips For Reducing Symptoms

  • Keeping your dog outside is the best way to prevent allergic reactions.
  • If dogs are kept inside, thoroughly and regularly clean your house using a reliable HEPA vacuum.
  • Do not allow dogs into the bedrooms of allergic people and, if possible, confine dogs to a part of the home without carpets.
  • Using anti-allergen labeled products such as sheets, carpets and furniture can help to reduce symptoms. Regularly wash your dog's bedding and toys.
  • Keep your dog happy and in good condition as he will shed more hair if he is sick or depressed.
  • Try not to encourage the dog to lick people, as this can spread the allergens.
  • Remember to wash your hands after playing with him and remind other family members to do this too.
  • Wash your dog once or twice a week with a mild shampoo. It might also help to wipe the dog down twice a day with a damp cloth.
  • Brush your dog's coat regularly to remove loose hair. Do this outside and wear gloves and a mask.

If allergy symptoms continue, medication might be required to bring relief. Another option is "allergy shots". In this treatment, tiny quantities of the allergen are injected into the patient over the course of a few weeks. The amount is increased slowly, until they become used to the allergen and their allergy eases or disappears.

Are Some Dogs Hypo-Allergenic?

No dog is completely free of allergens, not even hairless dogs as the allergen is still present in saliva. However, some breeds of dogs may cause milder reactions in most people and some people may only be allergic to specific types of dogs. Dogs that shed less will also reduce allergic reactions. If you have an allergy, try spending time with a dog breed or a specific dog before taking it home, in order to determine if it will cause a reaction.

While living with an allergy can be miserable, there may not be a need to give up your pet. With proper management, allergy symptoms can be reduced, allowing you to continue to enjoy your dog's companionship.