Many people are allergic to dogs. If you are allergic to dogs, your allergy being serious enough to warrant emergency, you may have no choice but to give up your dog. But if your allergy is mild, you might have other options. While only your doctor and you can determine the best solution to the problem, learning more about your allergy can help you know what you can do about it.
Contrary to popular belief, dog dander and not dog hair is what makes people allergic to dogs. Since dogs tend to scratch themselves more than other pet animals, dog allergens are more easily introduced into the air. You could also be allergic to dogs due to their saliva or even its urine although urine is less of a problem as most dogs potty outside the house. In some people, a dog’s lick may also trigger an allergic reaction.
You will know you are allergic to dogs if you see any one or more of these signs and symptoms: Coughing, itchy and watery, swollen eyes, runny nose and/or sneezing, nasal congestion, headaches, fatigue, rashes on the face, neck, and upper chest, shortness of breath and wheezing.
Dog allergy symptoms can occur within 30 minutes following exposure, or may not develop until several hours later. In some cases, symptoms increase in severity for 8 to 12 hours. In patients suffering from asthma, an allergic reaction can trigger an acute asthma attack.
You can control your allergies by reducing the allergens in your environment even if you cannot completely remove them. Here are a few tips for those who are allergic to dogs:
- Divide your home, keeping sections that you frequently use pet-free.
- Have bare, easy to clean floors in all the rooms, avoid clutter in the house and refrain from using wall to wall carpets as they easily collect dander.
- Bathe your dog at least twice a week and use mild shampoos to prevent its skin from over drying.
- Regularly wash your dog's bedding, and soft dog toys using an anti-allergen detergent.
- Open the windows occasionally to let the airborne pet dander air out.
- Use a central heating system with electrostatic air filters to help clean the air distributed through the house or inexpensive disposable allergen air filters that capture microscopic allergens like dust, smoke and smog particles and large allergens like mold spores and pet dander.
- Wash your hands thoroughly after petting your dog, and avoid touching your eyes or face when playing with them.
- For people severely allergic to dog dander, giving up your dog may be the only way to permanently reduce the amount of dander. However removing your dog from the house will not make your allergies go away immediately, it may take weeks or months.