Having allergies to man’s best friend doesn’t mean you have to be constantly isolated from dogs out on the street or even in your own home. 37%-47% of households own dogs and every U.S. home has been found to have varying levels of dander, yes, including those that do not even have dogs. It may seem like a rough life for people who experience these types of dog allergies and the allergy symptoms they are subjected to, but there are many ways to manage it successfully if it is not life threatening.
Symptoms & Understanding Dog Allergies
First, it’s important to understand the symptoms and how they occur. Many people have mistakenly assumed they were allergic to their pet only to be tested false. Take a look at the list of symptoms and if you’re experiencing any of them see your doctor to be tested on what allergies are actually present. Symptoms vary, but usually it may feel like any other nasal allergy symptoms. The common symptoms include:
- Coughing and wheezing
- Red and itchy eyes
- Runny and stuffy nose
Other symptoms include varied skin reactions that may break out from a dog’s lick. More severe reactions may include breaking out into hives on the face or chest, or a possible asthma attack.
The main misconception about dog allergies is that it is spurred on only by dog fur or that certain dog breeds trigger it while others are safe against allergies. According to The Humane Society the allergy triggering proteins called allergens can come from saliva, urine, skin glands that cling to an animal’s dry skin, also known as dander, and fur. Fur and dander sticks to walls, carpet and clothing, causing a sense of an all-surrounding allergic reaction. For many, if dander, saliva, or urine causes an allergic reaction it doesn’t matter the length of the dog’s fur. The reason why dogs may trigger allergies is due to a sensitive immune system. The body will react negatively to harmless substances, such as dog dander or saliva, and attack it like it is bacteria or a virus. The sneezing and coughing are side effects of the body trying to dispose of the threat.
Due to the common symptoms of most allergies, it is imperative that one be tested by a certified doctor before assuming you’re allergic to your family pet. A test will either consist of a skin or blood test. After allergies have been determined, there are a number of treatment and management options available.
Reducing and Treating Dog Allergies
If allergies are not life-threatening it is possible to still live with or be around dogs with your allergies. Standard and well-tested allergy medications can be a good approach to take when dealing with allergies. There are quite a few over the counter antihistamines that block allergy symptoms. Other options also available are decongestants, which reduce the swelling in the nose and congestion, and nasal steroids, which decrease inflammation.
Other viable ways to reduce allergic reactions is by controlling the environment around you:
- Dog Free Zone: Create a space in your home that is pet free, specifically your bedroom. If you’re visiting a home with a dog ask the owners to keep a room away from their dog’s access for a few months before your arrival to ensure none of the airborne dander remains.
- Use Medicine: If you know you’ll be around a dog take your medication periodically to prevent allergies before they begin.
- Keep Clean: If you own a dog it’s important to keep your home as clean as possible because dog dander can stick anywhere. If you can, buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter, unlike regular filters, it catches allergens.
- Air Filter: Filtering your air is important if you have central heating or air conditioning because they push dander and fur particles into every room.
- No Free Range: Don’t allow your dog to be loose, keeping your dog in certain areas of the house or outside, if the weather permits it, will keep you more protected.
- Regular Baths: Take your dog to the groomers or have someone not allergic to dogs bathe them regularly, this may also reduces allergy-causing dander.
Get Tested and Find the Best Treatment
Depending on the severity of their allergies, many people with mild to moderate reactions can still expect to live normal lives whether they own a dog or just love to be around them. Getting tested for allergies is the first step in understanding what causes the allergic reactions and if there are other factors like mold or dust that can also be to blame for allergy symptoms. Many times pet allergies are just one of many allergies and receiving an extensive test by an allergy doctor can help in determining how to manage them in an effective way.
Get started with an appointment with Dr. Shukla to understand the full extent of your allergies and review the best treatment options. Managing allergies is achievable with the right information, treatment, and self-care.