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DOGS: Addressing Allergy Problems
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Making It Work With Dog Allergy Issues

Contrary to popular belief, dog hair doesn’t exactly cause allergies. It’s usually dander–tiny scales from animal hair, skin, or feathers–that gets people wheezing. Dust and pollen often hitchhike on dander, making it even more allergenic. Some people are also allergic to dog saliva or urine.  Because dander is the true culprit, the idea that low-shedding dogs are hypoallergenic isn’t really true. All dogs have dander, even hairless ones. Low-shedding dogs tend to release less of it than heavy shedders, but they can still cause an allergic reaction.  Coping with an allergy to dogs is nothing to sneeze at. It’s a commitment. After all, shelters receive dogs for this reason every day. Hopefully, following these tips will make a world of difference.  Although you may never be able to eliminate all your allergy symptoms, following these suggestions can help make living with your dog a more enjoyable experience.

  • Most importantly, don’t let your dog sleep in your bedroom, and never in your bed. Keep the door closed and clean the room thoroughly.

  • Animal allergens are sticky, so regularly remove the dog’s bed, pull up rugs, and scrub the walls, floors, and woodwork.

  • If possible, go with bare floors instead of allergen-trapping carpeting. If you don’t like bare floors, use throw rugs that can be washed in hot water.

  • Vacuum often and wear a dust mask when you do it. Invest in a good vacuum with a HEPA filter.

  • Cover your vents with cheesecloth, at least the ones in your bedroom.

  • Keep your dog off furniture or cover it with fabric that you wash frequently in hot water.

  • Forced-air heating and air conditioning can spread allergens, so add an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to central heating and air conditioning and run it at least four hours a day. An electrostatic filter will also remove airborne particles the size of animal allergens.

  • Washing the dog every week may reduce allergens in your dog’s fur, but may not help your symptoms. Have a friend or groomer do it if it makes you wheezy or sneezy.

  • Have someone else brush your dog outside.

  • Get some fresh air. Highly insulated homes trap allergens as well as heat, so open the windows to increase the ventilation in your home, and run window fans on exhaust.

  • Spray allergens away. Anti-allergen sprays are a convenient way to deactivate allergens, including those produced by pets.  Allersearch ADS, made from plant-based, non-toxic substances, can be sprayed throughout the house to take the sting out of household dust by rendering allergens harmless.

  • Take your medicine. Over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines, decongestants, eye drops and aerosol inhalers will help reduce the symptoms, although they do not eliminate the allergy. If you prefer to take a holistic approach, try Nettle tea, a bioflavinoid called quercetin or acupuncture. In recent studies antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E have demonstrated significant anti-allergen effects.

  • Get tested. An allergy specialist can determine the exact source of your allergic reactions by a simple prick of the skin on your arm or back.

  • Your dog’s dry skin can cause irritation and itchiness, which in turn causes extra scratching, which releases more dander than usual. So, keeping your dog’s skin healthy can help your allergies.  Many conditions cause a dog’s skin to dry out, such as mange, metabolic disorders, hormonal disorders, allergies to fleas and dust mites, hot spots, and most kinds of dermatitis. Your vet can help you diagnose and treat the problem.

  • Look at the whole picture. Because allergies rarely come individually wrapped, other culprits, such as dust mites and pollen, may be causing reactions, too. An individual rarely has a single allergy.  A dog owner may be able to tolerate contact with the dog in winter, but when spring arrives, all the allergies together may prove unbearable.

  • Build up resistance. There is no cure for allergy to dogs, but immunotherapy may help increase your tolerance. Immunotherapy involves getting allergy shots once or twice weekly for up to six months, then monthly boosters for three to five years. Some individuals develop complete immunity, while others continue to need shots, and still others find no relief at all.