If dogs are man’s best friend, then dog allergies have gotta be man’s worst friend. It hardly seems fair that some people get to enjoy the company of canines, completely care-free, while others suffer with the sniffles. Making matters worse is that dog allergies and cat allergies are common reasons folks surrender their pets to shelters. So let’s nip this problem in the bud, shall we? Here’s how to recognize the signs of dog allergies and then treat the symptoms!
Causes of Dog Allergies
It’s an extremely common misconception that animal allergies are caused by dog hair and fur. Most experts agree that this simply isn’t true. Instead, an animal allergy is likely a reaction to a pooch’s dander and saliva. Dander is flakes of dead skin, and since even low-shed or hairless dogs obviously have saliva and skin, it’s hard to predict which pups will trigger a person’s allergies. In fact, even dogs of the same breed can give off different levels of the allergen. This is why it’s important that all family members should meet a dog before you adopt them!
Pet allergies are essentially a glitch in our immune systems. If you suffer from allergies, your body is overreacting to the presence of a harmless substance. Instead of ignoring a dog’s saliva or dander, your body attacks it and tries to flush it from your system – just like it would an actually harmful bacteria or virus.
Animal Allergy Symptoms
Dog allergies, just like cat allergies, tend to manifest as a nasal allergy. This means an animal allergy shares many of the same symptoms has other nasal allergies, such as pollen and dust allergies. Your dog allergy might feel a lot like a cold. You possibly have dog allergies if you experience:
- Red eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Nasal congestion (a stuffy or runny nose)
These respiratory issues usually aren’t a huge deal. They’re mostly just unpleasant and inconvenient. However, these symptoms become more problematic if the sufferer also has asthma and is struggling to breathe. Serious allergies of this sort definitely need to be addressed by a physician.
In some cases, pet allergies can also show up as a skin allergy. These symptoms are a bit different and can include:
- Red skin
- Itchy skin
Dog Allergy Treatments
Don’t despair! There are many ways you can lesson or even prevent symptoms entirely:
- Look into medication. There are both over-the-counter and prescription options for handling pet allergies, including decongestants, antihistamines, nasal steroids and allergy shots.
- Clean your house and dog. Dander tends to settle into carpets, rugs, drapes and upholstered furniture. Get a good vacuum, ideally one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, and make sure your home is cleaned often. There are even cool dog wipes that help with dander allergies!
- Filter the air. Regularly replace your air filters to make sure your home’s heating or air conditioning isn’t pushing dander farther into your house.
- Limit where your dog can and can’t go. Play with your dog outside, keep them off your furniture and don’t let them into your bedroom.
- Look at your dog’s diet. Adjusting your dog’s diet can “change” your pup’s dander. Look for food with simple easy-to-digest ingredients. These can safely alter how your dog’s skin is processed.
If you’re not sure where to start, call your doctor! They can advise you on the best course of treatment. And this isn’t our only piece on pet allergies. Be sure to also check out our article on cat allergies for more tips on allergy management!