Are You Allergic to Dogs?

My terrier,Terra, is a hypoallergenic dog breedWhen I was a child, everyone in my neighborhood had a dog. However, I don’t remember anyone claiming to suffer from pet allergies.  In my home, we always had pets like dogs, cats, and assorted rodents. You name it, we had at least one or two or six.

As a teenager I began to develop symptoms of pet allergies, especially to our cats. I was always sneezing and rubbing my itchy eyes. I asked my father (the doctor) if he thought I was allergic to cats. He said “Just stay away from the cats and get over it.” Allergies got no respect back in the day!

Anyway that did not seem like a solution. I did make sure to wash my hands after petting them, and I avoided putting my face in their fur and took antihistamines if I was really feeling poorly. This seemed to help and I lived happily with my pets. Eventually I left for college and my symptoms went away. I was tested for allergies and discovered I was highly allergic to cats and dogs.

Over the years I seemed to grow out of my allergy symptoms and of course I live with dogs now, and do quite well.

When my children were small we always had dogs and they seemed to be fine with them. I always felt bad for the their friends whose parents told them they had allergies when they really didn’t, just because the parents did not want the responsibility of a pet. Those kids never sneezed in my house.

But sadly many people really do suffer from pet allergies and avoid getting a dog when they really want one.

So realistically what can you do if you are an animal lover and you have severe allergies?  One solution is to seek out a dog breed that is hypoallergenic. Although there are really no dogs that are completely hypoallergenic, breeds such as Poodles and many Terriers seem to cause less symptoms. People think that this is because these dogs tend to shed less and that keeps the sneezes away. (I think they just don’t want to clean up dog hair.) The truth is the dander from the dog’s skin is what causes the allergic reactions. If you suffer from allergies there is help and hopefully you can get the dog you always wanted.

Here are some great suggestions to help you live comfortably with your beloved pets:

  • Keep the animals out of the bedrooms at all times. Since we spend from one-third to one-half of our time in our bedrooms, this can greatly reduce the symptoms of pet allergies.
  • Install a good “HEPA” air cleaner.
  • Close the ducts to the bedrooms and use electric heaters.
  • Clean and vacuum regularly.
  • Bathe your pet weekly.
  • Do not allow your pet on the furniture.
  • Do not allow your pet in your car. Or use car seat covers when your pet is in the car.
  • Brush your pet daily and use an allergy-reducing spray such as Allerpet.
  • Keep your pet’s skin healthy by feeding a good multivitamin and a fatty acid supplement. Encourage the pet to spend more time outdoors.
  • Wash your hands after handling the pet, his toys, bed, etc.
  • See your physician and discuss possible immunotherapy or medications.

Best Breeds for Allergy Sufferers: [source: American Kennel Club]

  • Bedlington Terrier
  • Bichon Frise
  • Chinese Crested
  • Coton de Tulear
  • Irish Water Spaniel
  • Kerry Blue Terrier
  • Maltese
  • Poodle
  • Portuguese Water Dog
  • Miniature Schnauzer
  • Standard Schnauzer
  • Giant Schnauzer
  • Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
  • Xoloitzcuintli
  • American Hairless Terrier
  • Lagotto Romagnolo
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Afghan Hound
  • Peruvian Inca Orchid (Hairless)

Everyone should have a dog to love!

Additional Resources:

In Dog World, A.I. Does Not Mean Artificial Intelligence
Smiley, the Blind Therapy Dog