Managing Allergic Reactions to Dogs

More than 5% of dog owners are allergic to their own pet. The allergic reactions to dogs are due to the dander, which is shed by all breeds of dogs. Hair, urine and dog saliva don't usually cause allergies in humans. The management of allergic reactions to dogs can be done in a few steps: getting medication or immunization shots, reducing the dander shed by the dog and reducing the dander in the home.

Immunization Shots

Immunization shots can be effective in reducing the allergic reactions to dogs. The allergies are caused by a protein in the dog dander and this can be inhaled, producing the allergy symptoms. The immunization shots will be administered weekly and then on a monthly basis, and the patient will receive injections with the allergen. The injections will train the immune system, which will become less sensitive to dog dander as the treatment progresses. This treatment is also known as hyposensitization. In some cases, a full allergy treatment is possible through immunization shots.

The shots start to be effective two to six months after the beginning of the cure. The hyposensitization is recommended for dog owners, being considered the most successful in dog allergy management. There are no major side effects, but this treatment is not effective in about 20% of people with dog allergies.

Medication Treatment

Medication treatment can be used for allergy management. There are two types of medications that can be administered:

  • Antihistamines that stall the immune system, which produces the histamines that cause the allergies. These drugs are effective as long as they are administered, but some people may build up resistance to antihistamines.
  • Steroid treatment can inhibit the immune system, but may have serious side effects (such as kidney damage) if used as a long term treatment.

Reducing the Dog Dander Shed

Dogs may shed variable amounts of dander, but they all shed dander. The amount of dander shed may be determined by the breed, diet, the shampoo used and the frequency of bathing of the dog. Cleaning the dog twice a week with a sponge can reduce the dander shed in the home. A hypoallergenic shampoo should be used, which won't cause dry skin and flakiness. Introducing a few supplements (vitamin E and omega 3 and 9) in the dog's diet will ensure that his skin is hydrated and reduce the amount of shed dander.

Reducing the Dander in the House

Once the dander is shed, it will be airborne and land on different objects in the house. Keeping a regular cleaning schedule will reduce the dander that is gathered on the furniture and floors. Pillows, carpets and drapes are dander traps and should be removed from the house.

It is a good idea to have a room where the dog is not allowed to enter. This can be the bedroom. Sleeping in a dander-free environment may reduce the allergic reactions by more than 50%.