Allergies to Dogs and How to Prevent Them
Coping with Dog AllergyHomes up and down the land would not be complete without the four-legged member of the family. Many of us love our dogs and wouldn’t want to be without them. But for some people a quick cuddle with Spot or a game of fetch with Bouncer can result in hours of sneezing, wheezing and misery. So, how can you avoid and manage dog allergy symptoms?
Think You’re Allergic to Dog Fur?You’ll hear lots of people say that they’re allergic to dogs. In fact, many people think it’s the fur they’re allergic to. It is possible to be allergic to fur and skin cells (also known as dander), but most people with symptoms of dog allergy are actually allergic to their furry friend’s saliva and sweat. Yuk!
The protein in animal saliva and sweat is usually the allergen causing your problems. It lodges itself deep inside the lungs and, once it’s there, it can cause all sorts of symptoms, including triggering asthma attacks.
How does the Allergen Reach you?So, how does your dog’s sweat and saliva find its way into your lungs? Have you ever seen your dog licking his fur to get clean? That’s where the problem starts. The protein from his saliva is left on his fur and later, when it’s dried, tiny flakes come loose and float off into the air around your home.
Main Symptoms and how to Control ThemThe symptoms of dog allergy usually appear between fifteen minutes to an hour after exposure to the allergen, although it can sometimes take longer. Look out for red, itchy, or swollen eyes, a runny or blocked nose, sneezing, coughing and wheezing. Remember, the symptoms are the same as those of many other allergies, like dust mites and hay fever. So talking to your doctor will help you figure out whether you really are allergic to your dog.
Of course, the best way to manage allergic reactions and their symptoms is to avoid the allergen. Yes, that means you might need to find a new, loving home for your dog. If this is the case, be responsible. Talk to the RSPCA or other reputable animal rescues about the best way to go about this.
Remember, if you do re-home your pet, that the protein allergen can remain in your house for years after the dog leaves, so you might continue getting symptoms for some time to come. To completely remove the allergen from your home, you’ll have to clean your carpets, walls, soft furnishings and bedding.
Good ventilation is also important in managing dog allergies. Because the allergen floats around in the air, a constant flow of fresh air will reduce the number of allergens in your home at any one time.
Treatment of Dog AllergyYou’ve re-homed your pet and you’ve cleaned your house from top to bottom, but you’re still having symptoms. Presuming that you checked before you started that your symptoms were really down to a dog allergy, you’ll need to see your doctor. That’s because if you’re particularly prone to this type of allergy, it’s almost impossible to avoid contact with these allergens. If you sometimes ride in someone else’s car, take a taxi, share an office or come into contact with other human beings at all (let’s hope so!) then you will encounter the dog protein allergen on clothes, furnishings and fabrics.
You might be prescribed antihistamines, to block the chemicals that cause your allergy symptoms. As with any allergy, the key to getting the right treatment is to establish what the allergen is that’s affecting you. So, before you start looking for a new home for Rover, talk to your GP and find out the facts.