How to Manage an Allergic Reaction to Dogs
‘He is part of the family’’ has become a mantra of most homes that live with a dog, and the reasons are bountiful. If you are kind to your canine friend, you are assured of companionship, unconditional love, and unwavering loyalty down to his/her last breath.
Unfortunately, while most of us have a pleasant time with these furry friends, it is estimated that 15% of pet lovers are allergic to them. The consensus among those who fall into this population is that you can’t acquire a dog. More often than not, those who are already living with one resort to getting rid of it, which can be so sad for the two parties. There is some good news, though.
There are a lot of tested and proven ways of coexisting with dogs, even when you are allergic to them. We are here to share with you these vital tips.
Let’s start here.
What causes allergic reactions to dogs?
It’s easy to quickly point at the dog’s hair as the root of your predicaments. However, according to airhonest.com, it’s a protein in pet dander and saliva that actually causes the runny nose, swollen eyes, sneezing, and wheezing.
Pet dander is a polished name for dead skin cells that dogs and other pets shed. These dead cells are sticky and are, therefore, mostly found on the hair that your dog sheds.
Having understood that, let’s get to the meaty part of this article.
Tips for Controlling Dog Allergies
1. Be sure it’s the dog’s dander that’s causing the breakouts
If your eyes water and you start sneezing and wheezing whenever you play or cuddle with your dog, then there are odds that you are allergic to him/her. However, before concluding so, it might be crucial to get a diagnosis from an allergist. This is because your allergic reactions could be as a result of other allergens that your dog could be exposing you to, such as pollen and dust.
Most allergists use a skin-prick test to diagnose dog allergy. In this test, the allergist pricks your skin and places an extract from your dog’s allergen. The allergen is then allowed to seep into the skin, and then you are monitored for signs of an allergic reaction such as swelling and redness.
This test is safe for both adults and children, and it only takes 15-20 minutes.
2. Restrict the dog to certain rooms
Avoidance is the most sure-fire way of controlling dog allergies. If you can’t stand finding a new home for him, then at least create some dog-free zones around your house. Among other areas, we highly recommend that you cordon off your bedroom as this is where you are likely to spend a lot of time.
Restricting the dog from accessing certain parts of the house means that you’ll have a haven to run to when your allergies hit peak levels.
Of course, your pet’s dander will still find a way into the restricted areas. However, it will be at minimal levels and, therefore, much easier to deal with.
3. Bath your friend frequently
Bathing your pet often is another excellent way of combating the allergens head-on. Frequent baths help in removing most of the dander that may be clinging on the hair coat before it’s dumped on your floor and furniture. We highly recommend that you use dog-specific allergen-neutralizing shampoos. Avoid human shampoos as they are often very acidic.
4. Brush your dog’s hair coat between baths
Between baths, remember to brush your dog’s hair coat frequently to remove loose hair and dander that act as transporters for allergens. Rubbing the coat with a moist cloth (moistened with an allergen-neutralizing solution or water) also helps in reducing dander. See our invaluable tips on how to keep your dog’s coat healthy and shiny here.
5. Be sure to feed your dog with high-quality food
Dry and irritated skin is one of the significant reasons for compulsive scratching, biting, and licking in dogs. Scratching increases the rate of sloughing dead skin cells, consequently increasing your exposure. Although all dogs are continually shedding, those with healthy skin tend to shed less. The best way to promote healthy skin is by feeding your dog with high-quality food. Importantly, the food needs to have a correct balance of skin-supporting oils, including omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.
6. Say goodbye to the carpet
Your dog is continually producing allergens. Needless to mention, your carpets are going to be the biggest reservoirs for the dander. This can be especially problematic if you have long shaggy carpets since they tend to collect more allergens and can be the hardest to keep clean. So, it only makes sense that you rip them up and replace them with tiles, linoleum flooring, or hardwood as these can be easily cleaned of allergens.
If that doesn’t sound so appealing, then be sure to have your carpets and shaggy area mats deep cleaned regularly.
7. Get a HEPA Vacuum Cleaner and Air Filter
Managing allergic reactions to dogs is all about getting rid of as much dander as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by having a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air filter and vacuum cleaner. These 2 will go a long way in trapping pet dander floating on air and trapped on your floors, thereby minimizing your exposure to the allergen.
When choosing a HEPA filter, be sure to match its coverage with the size of your rooms. On the other hand, a good HEPA vacuum cleaner should have a fully closed system to prevent the allergens from leaking out into your air again. Dyson is among the best brands worth considering here.
8. No Kissing and Licking
Forget about the recent scientific claims that dog kisses boost your immune. If you are allergic to pet dander, then you want to ensure that you don’t encourage licking and kissing, as these can lead to horrible breakouts. It might sound strange, but even people who are fine around dogs sometimes break out due to their saliva.
If you can’t avoid it, though, especially when the dog is on attack mode, washing the affected area immediately should help.
9. Consider hypoallergenic dog breeds
Experts have made it clear that 100% allergy-free dogs don’t exist. However, breeds that shed less are highly recommended for people with allergies. These include;
- Australian Terrier
- Irish Terrier
- Miniature Poodle
- Tibetan Terrier
- Airedale Terrier
10. Consider medical treatment
If you are already at the middle of a severe allergic reaction to your dog, there are readily-available over-the-counter and prescription medications that can help resolve the symptoms. Some of these remedies include;
- Antihistamines- popular antihistamines such as Benadryl help by relieving symptoms of allergies by blocking histamine.
- Immunotherapy- in case of severe or chronic symptoms, an allergist may use allergen injections (also referred to as allergy shots) to help you build a tolerance.
- Nasal decongestants- if you are experiencing severe congestion and sneezing, decongestants and nasal corticosteroids can help relieve the inflammation.