Almost everyone likes dogs. Those of us who own a dog know that they are not just our pet, they are a member of our family.
Dogs are wonderful companions and comrades always up for an exciting adventure. Our dogs make us laugh with their silly antics, show us how to have fun, and even comfort us when we really need a friend.
Canines have a sense for when our souls need to be soothed. Dogs also make us cry when they are ill or, heaven forbid, they pass away leaving an empty void in our lives.
Some people love dogs, but unfortunately, just being around them causes many uncomfortable symptoms that make them back away, instead of giving a fluffy, excited mutt a big hug and patting down, while receiving big sloppy kisses.
You may be one of these people who are longing for a dog but have trouble being within inches of one.
This post is all about being allergic to dogs. Included will be signs of being allergic to dogs and I will answer your question, “Can I stop being allergic to dogs?”
What Causes Allergies?
As many as 40% of children and 30% of adults suffer from allergies in the United States. These people have an immune system that targets some everyday harmless things that most of us aren’t bothered by.
The important duty of your immune system is to be on high alert in the defense of your body against foreign substances, mostly viruses or bacteria that are trying to invade and make you ill.
When allergies occur, your immune system tries to stop an invasion of an otherwise harmless substance by releasing antibodies to cells.
The cells, in turn, release histamines which try to rid your body of this substance. Blood vessels expand and a wide variety of allergy symptoms can occur.
Many things that some people are allergic to, but many have absolutely no reaction to are:
- Bee sting
- Certain detergents or fabric softeners
Symptoms, when exposed or ingesting allergens, can be mild to severe and even life-threatening.
People have died from ingesting the smallest amount of peanuts or shellfish. They have gone into anaphylactic shock in which their airways close, blood pressure drops and shock occurs unless a shot of epinephrine is injected quickly to open airways.
Signs of Being Allergic to Dogs
Allergies to dogs are not caused by the fur on a dog, even though this seems to be the likely culprit.
Canine allergies are caused by dander, which is a material made up of bits of skin with skin oil that are shed from a dogsbody, similar to that of dandruff in humans.
This dander can be shed on its own, but often comes along when fur is shed, thus a breed that does a lot of shedding is going to produce a lot of dander. Heavy shedders are not a good choice for an allergy sufferer.
Dander is not the only allergy irritant on a dog. Dander is inhaled, causing respiratory issues in the allergic but when a dog licks this person or their skin comes in contact with a dog’s urine, if they are highly allergic they will also develop skin symptoms.
Below are symptoms of a dog allergy. If you are allergic, you may have one, many, or all of these symptoms.
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Runny, stuffed nose
- Wheezing (Asthma)
- Tightness in the chest (Asthma)
- Trouble breathing (Asthma)
Anaphylactic shock is not known to occur if you have allergies to dogs. If your allergies are severe, however, and you have asthma, being around a dog can cause an asthma attack.
Asthma attacks require inhalers and can be severe, causing some to seek emergency treatment and attacks can also be fatal if treatment is not prompt.
Owning a dog, for someone with severe allergies and asthma may not be the wisest choice.
Can I Stop Being Allergic To Dogs
The answer to this question is not a yes or no one. Children can sometimes outgrow an allergy but if you’ve acquired an allergy as an adult it’s unlikely it will go away.
For starters, if you want a dog badly but have mild allergy symptoms around dogs and assume you are allergic, get tested for allergies.
You may find that you aren’t allergic to dogs at all, but perhaps the pollen they have accumulated on their coat from outdoors or even from their dog shampoo.
Keep in mind that dander is varied on all dogs, even those of the same breed. You may have an allergic reaction to one dog but not another.
If you have severe allergies to dogs, then owning one just may not be in the cards for you. If you have mild symptoms, spend some time with different dogs at a shelter or breeders and see if any dogs cause no reactions. It could be the beginning of a new relationship!
Ways to Alleviate Your Allergy Symptoms to Dogs
Food Allergies in dogs
Food Allergies in dogs
There are ways to live with a beloved furry family member even if you suffer from dog allergies. If however, your allergies are extremely severe, it won’t be worth it to become attached for both you and the dog.
If your symptoms are not too drastic or definitely not life-threatening below are a few tips to help make that transition to the pet parent.
Although there are no truly hypoallergenic dogs, do some research and choose one that is not a heavy shedder and a breed considered semi-hypoallergenic.
Also, whichever dog and breed you choose, spend time with them before making a commitment and taking them home. Finding out that your allergies are just too severe “after the fact” will be heartbreaking for all.
HEPA Filters and Cleaning
Installing HEPA filters in your home will help minimize allergens. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter also and vacuum often.
Also, cut down on furnishings that will be dust and dander magnets like too many carpets, pillows, curtains, etc.
Allergy Free Room
Designate at least one room to be a dog-free room, preferably your bedroom. Doctors frown upon allowing your dog to sleep with you and if you are an allergy sufferer, this should be a definite “no-no.” Keep your bedroom an allergy-free area.
Your pup should have its own area and bed. Wash their bedding frequently and vacuum the area to cut down on dander and fur.
Giving your dog a bath as often as you can without irritating their skin will also help cut down on dander and remove loose fur quicker.
There are shampoos and sprays that claim to cut down on allergens. Check out the reviews before purchasing; many do help.
Brush your pup outside if possible, to keep allergens outside. Change and wash your clothes after bathing and brushing as well.
One step that you can try that just might do the trick to control allergies is to take allergy medication in the form of antihistamines.
Most allergy medications today are non-drowsy and don’t leave you feeling like a zombie all day.
They work quite well to eliminate many symptoms There are many to choose from if one does not agree with you.
There are also antihistamine and steroid nose sprays that work well in alleviating symptoms by coating the lining of your nose so allergens can’t get in. If you don’t like taking pills, try a nose spray.
Immunotherapy in the form of allergy shots can gradually desensitize your immune system against allergens from dogs.
Keep in mind that they will not entirely eliminate your allergy to dogs but can greatly diminish symptoms in many cases.
The bottom line is, even if you are allergic to dogs, you can still own one unless symptoms are extremely severe or life-threatening in the case of an asthmatic.
Before getting a dog, if you have dog allergies, do research on different breeds to see which are not heavy shedders.
Try to spend time with any dog you are considering as your new furry family member and see how your immune system reacts.
Weigh all of the pros and cons before committing to a dog because they are a big responsibility and if you suffer from allergies this can upset the apple cart if allergies cannot be controlled.
Seeing an allergist can be a big plus in your quest for a dog. Good luck in your search for that new furry child!