Allergic to Your Dog? Try These Tips To Find Relief

Woman with dog and her husband suffering from pet allergy at home

Key Points

  • Proteins found in pet dander are the cause of allergy symptoms. 

  • Symptoms of allergic reactions to dogs include sneezing, watery eyes, stuffy nose, and itchy skin.

  • Treatments for humans who are allergic to dogs use medication that suppresses the immune response to pet dander. 

  • There are natural, over-the-counter, and prescription treatments for humans who are allergic to dogs.

Dogs provide you with companionship, love, and affection, making them one of the sweeter parts of life. You may not share this opinion if you sneeze, scratch, and have watery eyes whenever you're around a dog. Luckily, there are many treatments for humans who are allergic to dogs to address these issues.

Being allergic to dogs isn't the end of the world unless you have one of these furry friends living in your home. Dog allergies don't have to stop you from co-existing with your pets or doing normal dog-related activities. Whether you're looking for a natural remedy or prescribed treatment for humans who are allergic to dogs, there's an option out there for you. 

How To Spot Dog Allergy Symptoms

When you're allergic to dogs, you notice symptoms almost immediately after coming into contact with them. On average, 10-20 percent of people experience dog allergies to some degree. 

The proteins in a dog's saliva and dander can cause allergic reactions. Your immune system recognizes these proteins as an allergen and begins working overtime to eradicate them from your body.

Throughout this process, you experience uncomfortable physical symptoms that include: 

  • Itchy or watery eyes

  • Sneezing

  • Coughing

  • Swelling around the lips, tongue, or throat

  • Itchy throat

  • Itchy skin, hives, and rashes

  • Runny or congested nose

These symptoms are common with other pet allergies. If you are in a home with both a cat and a dog, it's important to pinpoint which animal is causing your reaction. 

Man with dog allergies vacuums dog hair from floor

Suddenly Allergic to Your Dog

It's possible to suddenly become allergic to your furry companion. As you age, your immune system changes and new sensitivities or allergies are possible.

Newly developed medical conditions may also take a toll on your immune health, causing you to no longer tolerate pet dander. 

If you notice new allergies developing when you're playing with your pup, don't worry. There are many treatment options to subdue allergy symptoms. There are also precautionary steps you can take around your home to lower the amount of pet dander. 

Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and make sure they stem from pet allergies and not from another underlying condition.

Testing for Allergies

To determine whether you are allergic to canines, your doctor administers a skin or blood test. 

A skin test consists of poking areas of your skin with small amounts of allergens. A reaction at the pricked sites indicates you have a pet allergy.

In a blood test, your doctor draws and screens the blood for antibodies formed due to pet allergies.

Both of these tests are useful in detecting allergies to other animals, not just dogs. Allergy tests help pinpoint the culprit or culprits if you have multiple types of pets — or other possible allergy sources — in your home.

How Long Do Dog Allergies Last?

Allergy symptoms usually resolve within a couple of hours if you're only around a dog periodically. In some cases, symptoms persist for up to a few days. 

Living with a dog in your home is another story. While having these lovable family members running around enhances your quality of life, it also diminishes it if you have allergies.

Since pet dander and saliva proteins are the root cause of your allergies, living with canines creates a recurring issue. Being constantly exposed to pet dander creates constant symptoms that take a toll on your physical well-being. 

Man blows nose while dog sits on lap

Treatment Options

There is hope, though! You can continue to be around your furry friend with the right treatment option. Treatment options are available for both short-term and long-term uses. 

Short-Term Treatment Options

You don't necessarily need daily allergy protection if you don't have a dog in your home.

Taking an over-the-counter antihistamine works wonderfully for calming the immune system and easing your symptoms. These medications are available at most drug stores. 

Antihistamines cause drowsiness in some cases, so take them as directed. 

Decongestants are another over-the-counter product that combat dog allergies. These allergy pills reduce the inflammation in your nasal passages, making breathing easier for you. 

Decongestants also come in the form of nasal spray, which temporarily reduces nasal congestion. 

Long-Term Treatment Options

Living with a canine means you need everyday protection. Without taking proper allergy precautions, you continuously experience uncomfortable symptoms. 

Many of the short-term treatment options are for daily use. Your doctor may recommend antihistamines as an everyday remedy if you tolerate them well.

There are many over-the-counter allergy treatment products containing various ingredients that soothe your immune system.

Experiment with different brands and ingredients to find one that works best for you — hopefully without creating any new symptoms of their own. 

Can You Build Up an Immunity to Dog Allergies?

It's possible to create immunity to dog allergies, but it involves needles.

Your doctor administers a sequence of shots containing small amounts of pet allergens. Because the amounts are much smaller than exposure to an actual dog, your body doesn't react the same way.

You receive these shots weekly for four to six months. Your immune system becomes accustomed to these allergens and eventually establishes immunity.

This treatment isn't necessary if you aren't around dogs regularly. If you are, it is a great way to avoid needing daily treatment. 

Trying to build immunity on your own may work, but it may also cause your allergic reactions to become more prevalent with constant exposure in large quantities. 

Natural Remedies

If allergy medication isn't your thing, or if you're looking to add a natural remedy to the mix, there are a few effective methods to consider. 

Neti Pot

A neti pot is a must-have for combatting your stuffy nose from allergies.

A neti pot is a hand-held device that pours saline solution into one nostril. The solution then leaves your nasal cavity through the opposite nostril, expelling any trapped mucus and allergens. 

Aroma Therapy

Certain oils such as eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender work wonders for relieving your nasal congestion. Add a few drops to a diffuser and spend a few minutes inhaling the vapors.

It's best to use only an oil diffuser in small spurts away from your dog. Pets shouldn't be around essential oil vapors, even for short periods. Many essential oils contain plants that are poisonous to dogs, even in vapor form.

Netipot with salts and spoon is good for dog allergies

Apple Cider Vinegar Bath

Take an apple cider vinegar bath if you experience itchiness or hives after being around dogs. Apple cider vinegar reduces skin inflammation.

Add two cups of raw apple cider vinegar into a warm bath and soak in it for 20-30 minutes to relieve your symptoms. 

Vitamin C

Your immune system is in a daily battle when you contact pet dander every day. Increasing your levels of vitamin C supports the immune system.

Vitamin C is also a natural histamine that calms your symptoms. 

How To Remove Pet Dander From Your Home

If you aren't able to take allergy medicine every day or still need relief after taking it, there are ways to lower the amount of pet dander and allergens around your home. 

Bathe Your Dog Regularly

Bathing your pet means garnering up the strength to convince them that getting into the bathtub is fun. Yes, that was easy to say.

If you have a dog that enjoys bathing, great! Increasing their bathtime schedule means increasing their fun time with you.

Do you become your dog's worst enemy whenever you try to usher them into the bathtub? Increasing how often they bathe gradually eases their resistance. Every time they survive the "trauma" of a bath they view it as less threatening.

It's okay to bathe your dog as needed, especially when dealing with pet allergies. Bathing too often strips your dog's natural oils from their skin. Using high-quality shampoo and conditioning products prevents that from happening.

Bathing your dog once a month is standard. Try bathing them every two weeks and see if that alleviates your symptoms. 

Brush Your Dog Regularly

How often do you brush your dog? Certain dog breeds don't seemingly require much maintenance due to their soft, medium-short fur. However, just because their fur doesn't get mats doesn't mean you shouldn't brush your pet out regularly.

Brushing releases any trapped dander and allows you to tolerate them better when they're near you.

Frequent brushing promotes circulation in your canine's skin and distributes their natural oils.

For dogs that don't enjoy a brisk brushing, you can make the experience rewarding for both of you. Give them their favorite treat to munch on while you secretly brush out their excess dander. 

Pug sits next to in-home air purifier

Air Purifier

Adding an air purifier to your space works wonders for your pet allergies. These devices create proper airflow throughout your home, preventing allergens from settling and building up.

An air purifier has an internal filter that traps particles from pet dander, dust, mold, and mites. Even while on medication or other treatments for pet allergies, consider adding an air purifier to your home.

There are various filters with different uses. For your anti-allergy purposes, you want one that removes small particles from your air space. When selecting one of these products, make sure you're buying one that contains the right filter. 

HEPA Filters

Pet dander and other allergens can be too small to be identified readily throughout your home. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter traps particles other filters can't. HEPA filters are available for all sorts of products, including your vacuum cleaner and air purifier. 

When you purchase a HEPA filter, follow the instructions and change your filter as directed. Some filters don't last as long as others. Certain filters need changing more frequently depending on the number of pets you have in your home.   

Keep Your Pets Out of Safe Spaces

Having a dog-free zone in some areas of your home is important for combatting your pet allergies.

Dog-free zones may seem like a no-brainer, but sticking to your own rules is challenging. This is especially true when your dog is begging to get on the couch or sleep next to you in bed. 

Dr. Purvi Parikh, an Arizona allergist, says there is one place in the house that should definitely be a no-no for the dog of an owner with allergies.  

"People always get upset, but I say that if you do have a pet that causes you problems, keep your pet out of your bedroom as well," Parikh recommends.

Pet dander travels even into your "safe space," but using an air purifier in your sanctuary allows you to relax without the threat of irritation.

For a physical barrier, doggy gates are an excellent way to establish boundaries around your home. 

Dog is bathed in bathtub

Hypoallergenic Dogs

It's no secret that being allergic to dogs while having one around your home is challenging and maybe unrealistic. There's still hope if you struggle with allergies but yearn to have a dog!

You may have heard of hypoallergenic dog food, but did you know there are also hypoallergenic dogs? These dog breeds produce a much lower rate of dander and may be suitable if you have allergies. 

No dog is completely allergen-free, but these canines are as close as you can get. 

Hypoallergenic Breeds

  • Poodle

  • Maltese

  • Barbet

  • Yorkshire terrier

  • Afghan hound

  • Miniature schnauzer

  • Havanese

  • Basenji

  • Bolognese

  • Goldendoodle

These are just a few of the hypoallergenic dogs out there. Search for these breeds at your local shelters, rescues, humane societies, and online resources to find your next dog to adopt

Woman sneezes into tissues sitting next to large white dog

To Sneeze or Not To Sneeze?

Don't let your dog allergies prevent you from experiencing the bond between you and a canine companion. Dogs are loyal, loving, and make wonderful friends. 

Try various treatments for your dog allergy until you find one that works for you. Keeping your windows open during warm months, showering after playing with your canine, and opting for a hypoallergenic dog are all steps in the right direction. 

Don't lose hope while struggling with dog allergies. Talk to your doctor for an immediate and even long–term solution, or try one of the many methods mentioned here. 

There are long-term and immediate options to assist you in overcoming your symptoms. The sooner you tackle your allergies, the more time you can enjoy playing with your favorite pup.

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