How can you be allergic to man and woman’s best friend? Sadly, many people who love dogs are. Here’s what I told a reader struggling with this problem.
Q: I have asthma, and my allergy to my dog is making it worse. Do you have any suggestions?
A: So many of us who love dogs suffer from allergies, but we put up with sneezing, sniffling, itchy eyes, wheezing and more because we don’t want to live without them. There’s no cure, but there are things you can try to relieve your symptoms. Here are some that have helped me and others.
For nasal allergy symptoms, ask your doctor about prescription or over-the-counter antihistamines; corticosteroid nasal sprays; decongestants; or leukotriene modifiers, which block the action of certain immune system chemicals. You may want to consider immunotherapy, or allergy shots, to help reduce your immune system’s sensitivity to an allergen. An allergist can suggest a treatment plan for your particular symptoms.
Bathe your dog weekly to keep down dander. Have a family member or groomer do it to reduce your exposure. Putting him in a onesie or doggie T-shirt can also help to keep dander on the dog, not floating around in the air.
Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Vacuum frequently, including furniture and curtains. If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpet with hard flooring and use area rugs that can be machine-washed and dried.
Don’t let your dog share your bed or bedroom. If that’s not possible, wash bedding often, and put allergen-blocking covers on the mattress and box spring. Consider getting an air purifier for the room, and change the filter often. Cover bedding with a clean sheet for your dog to lie on, and change it daily.
Put a washable cover on furniture that you share with your dog.
Sweep, vacuum and mop floors often, including baseboards. Hair and dander hide out there.
Avoid touching your dog and then touching your face without first washing your hands.
There’s more – including what all those terms in your pets’ lab work results mean – in Pet Connection, the weekly nationally syndicated pet feature I co-write with Kim Campbell Thornton and my daughter, trainer Mikkel Becker.