Puppies are irresistible for kids and grown-ups alike, but allergic reactions to a dog’s dander, saliva or urine are common. If you are prone to allergies you may have already discovered that you are allergic to dogs. Learn about ways to limit your exposure and control your sneezing and itching.
How Will I Know If I Have Dog Allergies?
Dog allergies could be the problem if you have any of these symptoms after being around dogs:
Itchy eyes, nose, mouth, throat or skin
Hives, which look like bumps on your skin
Sneezing or coughing
Stuffed up or runny nose
Red, watery eyes
If you want to know for sure if you are allergic to dogs you can see your doctor to discuss your symptoms and for allergy testing. Your doctor may perform a skin test, which involves placing tiny amounts of allergy causing substances under your skin and watching for a reaction. You may also have a blood test that looks for certain antibodies that cause allergies.
Who Gets Dog Allergies?
Dog allergies are very common. About 15 to 30 percent of people with allergies are allergic to dogs and cats as well (Source: AAFA). Furthermore, you are more likely to have a dog allergy if allergies or asthma run in your family.
What Can I Do to Prevent Dog Allergies?
The best prevention for dog allergy symptoms is to avoid dogs. If that is not possible keep these tips in mind:
Wash your hands, change your clothes, and take a shower after touching dogs or being in a home where dogs live.
Wash your face or apply a cool wet compress when you start to feel symptoms.
Take your medication as directed before dog contact
Dog owners should have their dog stay at a friend or family member’s house, if possible, at least a day before you visit them and clean their home thoroughly.
Ideally, you should not have a dog if you or someone else in your house is allergic to dogs. However, if you want to get a dog, these tips can reduce your symptoms:
Consult with an allergist, who will help you pick the least allergenic dog breed. There are no hypoallergenic dogs, although some breeds, such as terriers, may cause fewer allergy symptoms.
Choose a smaller dog, which will shed less dander than a larger dog.
Use a furnace filter and air purifier designed for allergies.
Keep your dog out of your bedroom.
Have someone else bathe your dog weekly.
Use as little carpeting and upholstery as possible in your home. Choose blinds and hardwood floors instead of drapes and carpeting.
What Are the Best Remedies for Dog Allergy Relief?
Along with preventive measures, these medications can help treat your dog allergy symptoms:
Nasal saline sprays to rinse out nasal allergens and break up congestion
Corticosteroids to reduce and prevent nasal congestion and itchiness
Antihistamines, to ease itching, sneezing, nasal congestion, and irritated eyes
Decongestants to reduce nasal congestion
Montelukast (Singulair) to take care of asthma and many other allergy symptoms
You may want to consider allergy shots if your symptoms are not well controlled with other medications. Allergy shots involve injections of the allergy-causing substance several times a week for up to seven months. Despite the time involved, allergy shots can be an effective means for eliminating your allergy.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications can have side effects so ask your doctor before trying them.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Call your doctor if you are concerned about having a dog allergy. Your doctor will design a treatment plan to control your symptoms, including asthma attacks. Your doctor can also help you with medication side effects, such as drowsiness.
Call your doctor if:
You have ongoing symptoms after treatment
You have new or different symptoms
You experience medication side effects