It’s not uncommon to develop allergies as we get older. Unfortunately, that may lead you to become allergic to your pet at some point. For dogs, if you suddenly develop an allergy around them, it’s usually pollen that gets stuck in their fur. Give them a bath and see if that helps. If it doesn’t, don’t worry. We have other solutions for you if you suddenly become allergic to your dog — or if your significant other brings a new dog into your home!
What Causes You to be Allergic to Dogs?
According to the Mayo Clinic, pet allergies are typically a reaction to dander, the dead flakes of skin shed by cats and dogs. Symptoms can present asr:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Wheezing or difficult breathing
Try cleaning your home more frequently to avoid the buildup of dander, using air purifiers with HEPA filters throughout your home, and keeping pets out of the bedroom of the allergic family member.
Fortunately, mild symptoms may be treatable with over-the-counter remedies. If those are ineffective, prescription medications and allergy shots are also available. Meet with your doctor to discuss which medical treatments, if any, are appropriate options for you.
Diagnosing Dog Allergies
Do you suspect you’re suffering from dog allergies? An allergist can evaluate whether can provide proper diagnosis and treatment.
A skin-prick test is the most common way of diagnosing a dog allergy. For this test, a small amount of an extract of dog allergen is placed on your skin. Your skin is then pricked with a small, sterile probe, allowing the liquid to seep under the skin’s surface. You’ll then be monitored for swelling and redness or other signs of a reaction, signaling an allergy. Results typically become evident within 15 to 20 minutes.
These tests can be uncomfortable, so it might be best for you to clear an afternoon to get it done. However, the results are extremely important to know! Even if you’re sure your symptoms are caused by a dog, it’s a good idea to be tested, since the symptoms may actually be caused by other environmental exposures.
Dog Allergy Management and Treatment
Management is as simple as keeping your dog away from your face, washing your hands whenever you touch the dog, or avoiding contact entirely.
It doesn’t help if you contain the dog to one room, but it does help if you don’t let your pup into your bedroom. This way, the dander won’t get on your pillow, clean clothes, or bedding. However, remember to keep an air filter in the room, as allergan can get in the room through your HVAC system.
Regular use of both air filters and a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner will help suck up any loose fur and dander as well. Giving your dog a bath at least once a week can reduce airborne dog allergen too!
If your dog has a bed, leg brace, collar and leash, or any sort of toy or clothing that you touch on a regular basis, be sure to wash those often too! The cleaner those objects are, the less irritated your skin should be when you touch them.
You can also try over-the-counter nasal sprays, antihistamines and bronchodilators to help relieve symptoms. Or consider allergy shots! Your allergist can help determine what treatment would be best to treat your dog allergy
Absolute Last Resort
The absolute last resort — and we mean the absolute last resort where your allergies are so bad that they are critically interfering with your life and health — then you may want to consider re-homing the dog.
If the dog is owned by your significant other, have a conversation with them after you’ve exhausted all of the other options. It will be hard, but you need to make them aware of your allergy (if they are not already), outline everything you’ve tried and if it worked or not, and discuss if you can continue living with this allergy or if another solution needs to happen. This can be as simple as limiting dates to your home and your partner not bringing their dog over, to as drastic as finding the dog a new home where your partner can visit them often.
Always ask friends and family first! Never choose a humane society as a first resort. Ask everyone you know and trust and you may find a good home without putting the dog through the trauma of feeling abandoned at a shelter.
If you have to choose a shelter, find a no-kill shelter with a foster program. Make sure they are clean, not overcrowded, and provide a loving environment to their pets.
Again, only do this if you have no other choice. Do not make this decision lightly.