I love my dog. I had him since he was a tiny Lil pup. One day out of the blue, my eyes got swollen, I can’t stop sneezing, and that scratchy throat is killing me. Am I suddenly allergic to my dog? I’m 34.
But Why? Why Now? Why Have I Done Wrong?
Believe it or not, it is nature’s way of life. Pet allergy can affect anyone at any stage of life. Allergies are more common in children, but adults will also stand a fair chance because of the repeated exposure to the same allergens. Hormones, family history, environment are factors that would lead to allergies development. A certain breed of dog will have an impact on the types of allergy received.
Here comes the boring stuff. Stay with me. The immune system is made up of vital cells and organs to protect the body from germ infection. An allergic reaction occurs when our immune system mistakes a substance as harmful. The immune system responds by producing immunoglobin E (IgE) antibodies to defend. IgE will then react differently depending on the types of allergens. Histamine is one of the many chemicals released that causes allergy symptoms. Allergies will remain when you are repeatedly in contact with the same allergen.
Most pet allergies are triggered via inhaling or enter through the skin. The likelihood of ingested is less but is still possible. Prolong exposure to allergens can lead to many respiratory problems, including asthma.
Are You Certain it is Pet allergy?
Do you experience wheezing, nasal congestion, stuffy nose, or chronic sneezing? What about red, watery, bloodshot eyes? Itchiness all over the body, including skin, throat, and eyes? Like everything else, you could be allergic to mold, pollen, dust, or even the musky perfume grandma put on. The question you must ask yourself, do the symptoms surface when your dog is around? If so, try a short getaway by staying in a pet-free zone. If the signs are gone, there is your answer. But just to be on the safe side before you do anything rash, get yourself check by an allergist.
What Can I Do?
Short and cruel answer: your dog has to go (Ouch). When there is no repetitive exposure, there will be no triggering point; thus, no pet allergy. This may not be a possible action, as we all are very attached to our furry friend. Fortunately, modern medicine and technology are here to rescue. Here is a rundown of solutions that will alleviate your pet allergies woe.
Groom Your Dog Every Day
If only take a couple of minutes and doing so will greatly reduce allergens on you and your dog. This includes pet dander, pollen, germs that your dog is frequently exposed to. Grooming your dog also stimulate the skin, reduce shed hair, and prevent matting. Use a soft-bristled brush or pet grooming gloves and brush thoroughly from top to bottom. Also, do it outside in an open-space area to reduce the number of allergens indoor.
Bathe Your Dog at Least Twice a Month
Of course, you don’t have to follow the exact order but do it routinely before your dog stinks up the place. Bathing will help removes skin flakes (dead skin) from being airborne. Wear a mask, bathing gloves and wipe gently in a circular motion. We highly recommend you use allergenic-free shampoo if you notice there are rashes on the skin. You can applied conditioner or moisturizer to keep the hair strong and shining, but it’s totally up to you. After that, rinse off all the shampoo and towel dry your dog. Avoid using a hairdryer as it will make the hair dry and more prone to shed.
Get Someone to Do the Work for You
There are days that you will be down with very bad allergies. If you are staying with your family member or loved one, have them to ease some of your burden on the chores. Talk to them and be open on your condition. If they are not up to the task, don’t make a big deal out of it. There is plenty of pet hotel that you can temporarily board your dog to.
Get a HEPA Air Purifier
Don’t cheap out on this. Make sure it is equipped with a genuine True HEPA filter. An air purifier would trap all airborne irritants within its range so you’ll inhale less of it and breathe in only the good stuff. A normal HEPA-type filter simply won’t cut it. Make sure the air purifier has decent purifying coverage and is on 24×7. That way, the air purifier will cover more grounds, especially in places your dog roam. There are dedicated pet air purifiers that come with extra pet filter or antimicrobial coating, consider those. Also, replace the necessary filter when it’s time. A worn-out filter is as good as useless.
Vacuum, vacuum, and vacuum
I hope I make myself very clear on this. Dust, the hair will fall all over the place, including sofa, counters, and shelf if you don’t do something about it. Vacuum regularly or even daily depending on how dusty your house is. Your friend or neighbor with pets is popping by? Vacuum again once they are gone. An air purifier running in the background would help capture all the disturbed dust and hair particles. While you’re at it, wear a mask to prevent the direct inhaling of the allergens.
Limit Your Dog Activity Space
Set boundaries where your dog can go to rather than letting him roam free. The bedroom is a no go as that is the place you would spend one-third of your time. If things get worse, keep your dog outside would not be such a bad proposal. Please do not take away his freedom by putting him into the cage. NEVER do that.
Eat Well, Rest Well and Stay Healthy
You can strengthen your body immune system by living a healthy lifestyle. Eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy fats. This includes berries, garlic, leafy greens, cauliflower, kale, raw honey, and yogurt. Control your blood pressure, avoid stressing out, and get plenty of rest. Sleep between seven to eight hours a day. A night of good sleep with help restores back your immune system. Also, curb those bad habits of yours. Stop smoking and avoid places filled with second and thirdhand tobacco smoke. Limit the number of alcohol consumption per day. Exercise regularly. This should go without saying.
Do that with your furry pal too. Feed him only healthy, grain-free food. A poor diet can lead to many skin problems. When your dog hair is tick and glowing, it is free from skin irritation; thus, less hair is shed. That also means less dander would be spread around the house.
Get Clean. Literally
Hassle but worth the try if you don’t see signs of improvement with your allergies. Practice good hygienic by washing your hand with soap after touching your dog. Avoid rubbing your eyes when your dog is around. Do not kiss your dog, dogs saliva is full of germs. Remember that. Shower and change your clothes after playtime to get rid of the clingy dog hair. Replace everything with hypoallergenic pillows, bed sheet, or upholstery. Carpet is a magnet for dog dander and allergens. Steam clean it regularly or just throw them away. If budget allows, replace wall-to-wall carpet floor with tiles, wood or vinyl flooring.
Outgrow Your Allergies
Patientience is a virtue. Allergic reactions vary in a different scenario and may change over time. You might be allergic to pet dander now, but as you age, the impact of the allergens might be lessened. In some cases, the allergic reactions might just poof, and disappear! Nobody, not even a doctor know exactly when or why, but the possibility is there.
Pop Some Pills
Need a quick cure to clear away the nasal congestion? There are many pills that would do wonders in alleviating your allergies. Your doctor may prescribe you with the following medications. Antihistamines reduce allergic reactions by cutting down the production of histamine chemicals. Corticosteroids is usually in nasal spray form that can lessen inflammation and redness. Decongestants reduce swollen tissues in the nasal passageways to improve breathing. Leukotriene modifiers block the action of immune system chemicals and prevent an asthma attack.
You can also start taking the widely available probiotics or prebiotics. Probiotics AKA “friendly bacteria” helps promote a healthy digestive system and immune system. Prebiotic increase good bacteria in the gut to boost metabolism and immune system.
Remember, allergy is not something you should take lightly. Do not suck it up and leave the condition untreated. Consider alternative treatments if there is no improvement in your allergies.
Prep Yourself with Allergy Shots (Immunotherapy)
Immunotherapy is a treatment option used to improve our body’s natural defenses. There are two types of immunotherapy: allergy shots and sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT). Since SLIT is less common in pet allergy, so we will pay our attention to the allergy shots.
Allergy shots work by injecting very small doses of allergen into the body. The shots are required every week or so, and on a later stage, there are the follow-up shots every month. Over time, the person would be less sensitive to the allergens as the dosage gradually increase. In other words, it is asking your immune system to “chill” when there are foreign substances in the body.
Allergy shots can work well for people with mild to severe pet allergies. Due to the nature of injection, we would put allergy shots at the bottom of our recommended solution. Don’t get me wrong, it is safe, but there is still an itsy-bitsy chance of severe allergic reaction (talk about irony).
[BONUS POINT] Hypoallergenic Dog
If you still at a considering stage and have confirmed on your pet allergies. All hope is not lost, there is hypoallergenic dog that is perfect for people with mild allergies. These are the type of pets that shed less or produce much fewer germs in their saliva. Is good to explore as you might be only sensitive to a specific breed of dog.
If none of the above solutions work and you have tried them all, it’s time to face the truth. I’m sorry for bringing the cruel answer back again, but it’s either you or him. Find a good home for him that you can trust or put it to adoption. It will be emotionally gut-wrenching, but there’s no need to beat yourself up over it.
Joseph Philips – Co-founder of airfuji.com. His life revolves around two golden retrievers that stay indoor.