There are many dog-lovers out there who feel that owning a dog is out of their reach. Why? Because they were also cursed with dog allergies. While knowing that our furry friends are the source of our discomfort is heartbreaking, allergies don’t necessarily mean that you can never adopt a dog of your own. You will have to take a few extra steps, but by putting in that effort, you will have a four-legged friend to call your own.
Understanding what causes your allergies is the first step in learning how to manage them. Many people assume it’s a dog’s fur that causes their eyes to itch and their throats to scratch. However, their fur isn’t the issue. Instead, pet allergies are triggered by dander (dead flakes of skin), as well as saliva and urine. These pieces of dander, saliva, and urine all contain harmless proteins that our immune systems mistakes for harmful ones. Your nasal passages and lungs inflame, and your skin turns red and itches due to your immune system’s misconception.
Symptoms of Dog Allergies
Dog allergy symptoms can range from mild to severe. If you suffer from allergies, you can have any or all of the following symptoms:
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Coughing, shortness of breath, or wheezing
- Stuffy nose, sneezing
- Redness of the skin
- Rash on face, neck, or chest
- Asthma attack
- Eczema after prolonged exposure
Adopting a Dog
Talk to your doctor
If you’re determined to have a dog despite your allergies, your first step should be to talk with your doctor. They can test your allergies to determine how severe they are, and they can also prescribe you medications to control your symptoms. The type of medications your doctor prescribes will depend on the severity of your symptoms. Some people may just need over-the-counter allergy medicine, while others will need immunotherapy (allergy shots) or inhalers.
Research dog breeds
Many people believe that if they’ve had a bad allergic reaction to one dog, they’ll have a bad reaction to all dogs. But in fact, your allergies can differ depending on the breed and the individual dog. Different breeds give off different amounts of allergy-causing proteins. This means that one dog may be safer for you to be around than another.
There has been much discussion about so-called “hypoallergenic” dog breeds. Many people mistakenly believe that these dogs will never trigger your allergies. Hypoallergenic dogs do produce less dander and less protein. Yet, no dog is 100% hypoallergenic. Nevertheless, breeds deemed “hypoallergenic” such as Coton de Tulears and Havanese are still an excellent choice for dog allergy-sufferers.
Living with a Dog
Allergy-proof your home
Just because you’ve adopted a hypoallergenic dog doesn’t mean you’re completely safe from allergies. There are steps you should take at home to keep everyone as comfortable as possible. Pet allergens easily stick to curtains, furniture, carpets, and bedding. You can minimize the number of items those allergens can stick to by using blinds instead of curtains and hardwood floors instead of carpets.
Clean, clean, clean
Of course, there is only so much you can do to allergy-proof your home. You may not have hardwood floors, and you’ll always need bedding. To keep allergy symptoms at bay, clean these surfaces as much as possible. Vacuum your floors and carpets, replace your bedding regularly, and use removable covers on your furniture. And don’t forget to keep your dog clean as well! A regular bath can help remove pet dander before it gets into your home.
Keep your dog off the furniture
If you don’t want to clean your furniture every day, then you’ll have to find some way to keep Fido off the couch. This may not be an easy feat, but with the proper training, you can teach your dog where they’re allowed and where they’re not. Just make sure they have a comfy space of their own to enjoy instead!
If you’re an allergy-sufferer and a dog-lover, you’re in luck. Family Puppies has Coton de Tulears and Havanese puppies, two hypoallergenic breeds that are great for allergy-sufferers. Contact us today to learn more!