When humans are allergic to pets, it means that they develop an immune reaction to a protein in the glands of a dog’s skin. Therefore, their allergies are irritated by a dog’s dander, as well as their saliva, which dries on their coat when they lick themselves, and can cause a reaction. Dog allergens are unfortunately very sticky, adhere to many surfaces in a home as well as in the air, and remain potent for weeks. Typical allergy symptoms include sneezing, coughing, itchy eyes, and even rashes.
When You Have Allergies
Buying a puppy or dog is a huge decision, and if you or a family member is known to be allergic, that must be taken into consideration. But it’s also possible to develop allergies after you buy a dog, or discover that you have a mild allergy that you weren’t previously aware of. You should talk to your doctor to determine the severity of your allergies as well as a treatment plan, but there are a variety of medications as well as allergy shots that can help.
Coping With Allergies
If you have to cope with pet allergies on a daily basis, there are a few steps you can take to alleviate discomfort. These tips are also useful if you have a guest who is allergic to your dog:
- Wash your hands right after petting your dog and try to keep your hands away from your face and eyes.
- Have another family member brush your dog regularly to help get rid of excess hair and dander.
- Bathe your dog regularly (there are a variety of dog shampoos available at your local pet store). You should also wash his toys and bedding regularly.
- Keep your dog away from your bedroom at all times, and purchase pillows and mattresses with non-allergenic polyester filling.
- Avoid having heavy carpets, curtains, or upholstered furniture because allergens stick to them easily. If you have carpeting, have it steam-cleaned several times a year. Keep walls and floors extra clean.
Use an air purifier containing a HEPA filter, which will remove some of the dander in the air. You should also use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which can pick up more dander from the floor.
If you know you are allergic to dogs, but still want to own one, there are a variety of breeds that may not aggravate your allergies as much. These breeds tend to have much shorter coats and don’t shed as much. But remember, every person reacts differently to different breeds, so there is no guarantee that any given dog will be “hypo-allergenic”. If you are allergic, consult your local pet store and your doctor to make a educated decision about what dog will be best for you.