They say that dogs are a man’s best friend. So, how could anyone not want a pet, let alone a dog? A dog is cute, comforting, and will often become a big part of one’s family. With that said, there are plenty of people who did not grow up with a dog as a pet, not because they weren’t animal lovers, but because of allergies.
The story goes as follows – growing up, a family never had any pets because someone within the family has severe asthma or allergies. The family eventually gave in and gets a dog later on, or in college one of the kids’ roommates has one, and their allergies become unbearable. As much as you love your dog, you don’t love the constant runny nose and itchy eyes that come along with them.
Allergies to pets are extremely common, especially for those with seasonal allergies and asthma. Research shows that as many as three in ten people with allergies tend to have allergic reactions to a pet, most commonly a cat or dog.
People who are allergic to dogs can sometimes be more or less sensitive to different breeds. People tend to think that there is a hypoallergenic dog breed, but unfortunately there is no such thing; some dog breeds just cause fewer allergy symptoms than others.
What is it about your furry friend that makes you react like this? Most importantly, what are dog allergies, and what can be done to treat and hopefully stop them?
Having a dog is a joyous thing, so being miserable around a pet doesn’t make you feel happy. Most importantly, you feel bad for the pet that you can’t give them the love back that they give to you so effortlessly. However, there is good news! It is possible for people who are allergic to animals to live happily with their dog, but knowing how to keep your allergies under control with a plan in place is the key to you and your pet’s happiness.
The job of the immune system in the human body is to find foreign substances, such as viruses and bacteria, and get rid of them. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, allergies occur when your immune system mistakenly believes that something that your body touches or has entered your body is a dangerous threat. During allergy season, your body has an immune reaction when exposed to different allergens and forms allergy-specific antibodies called immunoglobulins, which sit on cells in your eyes, nose, lungs and skin. The next time you come into contact with a particular allergen, your body reacts by releasing chemicals called histamines, leading to an allergic reaction.
What causes my dog allergy symptoms?
Normally, our immune system’s response of getting rid of the bacteria and viruses from the body, is to protect us from potentially harmful threats. People with pet allergies have an overly sensitive immune system.
People may think a pet’s fur is the sole cause of their allergies. Well, that is untrue, and the real source and reason for someone’s dog allergies is something that may surprise you. Dogs have glands in their skin that secrete distinctive proteins in their saliva, sweat, and urine, that can cause their owners to have a response called an allergic reaction, ranging from mild to severe. When saliva, urine, sweat, and even dirt from outside collect and build up on your dog’s fur when it dries, it forms pet dander, which are dead skin cells. The dander builds up and can collect on furniture and other surfaces within your home, and even on your clothing.
Normally, our immune systems response to getting rid of the bacteria and viruses from the body, protects us from potentially harmful threats. People with pet allergies have an overly sensitive immune system. The substances that cause your allergic reaction to your pet are known as allergens. Dust, dander, etc., settle on every surface in your home, and are airborne for long periods of time. These allergens land on the cells in your eyes, lungs, nose, and skin. If your seasonal allergies are severe, the probability that you are allergic is very high. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to your pet include, swelling, inflammation, and itching of your skin and eyes, stuffy nose, etc.
As mentioned before, since the allergens can be airborne and can affect the lungs, depending on who you are, your pet allergies can range from mild to severe. Severe allergies can cause severe asthma and other breathing problems, causing tightness in your chest, wheezing, and coughing.
Before you can treat allergies or try to avoid the cause of your flare-ups, you need to identify what’s causing your symptoms. Your symptoms that you are allergic to your pet may not appear right away. Therefore, it is important that you visit your doctor or an allergist right away, to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan in place. An allergy test, called a scratch test, will most likely be done to identify the specific allergens that you are allergic to, in this case pets. Stay one step ahead for an allergy-free season. Everybody is different, and many people don’t want to give up on having a dog in their life. There are steps you can take to take charge of your allergies, and enjoy your life with your dog.
Tips on How to Control Allergy Symptoms
- High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter (HEPA): Run a HEPA air filter in your bedroom and keep pets out of your sleeping space to ensure that your body has time to rest and recharge overnight with no allergy flare-ups. A HEPA filter will also keep dust mites and pollen from building up, which can cause your allergies to go haywire.
- Invest in hypoallergenic bedding and covers: Getting hypoallergenic bedding will help keep allergies from your pets from infesting your furniture, bedding, and other places you sit, and most importantly sleep. Also getting a hypoallergenic bed for your dog will protect them.
- Clean Often: Clean your home as often as possible, and eliminate buying rugs or any material that is prone to catching dust mites and other allergens that will spark an allergic reaction.
- Wash your dog: Washing your dog with hypoallergenic shampoo can reduce the allergens in their fur by as much as 84 percent.
- Allergy shots: Allergy shots are a good way to keep your allergies and reactions at bay. These injections have antibodies, known as protective proteins, which block the allergens from your dog, and stop you from having a reaction. In other words, the injections desensitize your body from having reactions when you come into contact with certain allergens.
- Allergy free zone: Establish allergy free zones in your home, where your dog is not allowed.
- Manage your stress: Extra stress can throw off your immune-system balance. For some people, it’s a case of fatigue and adrenal exhaustion.
It is possible to live comfortably with your dog, even though you suffer from allergies. The most important step is to find a doctor or allergist who understands what you are going through, and knows how much your dog means to you, even though you are suffering. Combining these tips, or whatever treatment the doctor recommends, will allow you to reduce your allergic reactions and live a happy life with your dog, who in return brings so much happiness to your life.
It’s time to put the misery of allergies behind you. Schedule an appointment at one of our convenient Tampa Bay locations today by calling (813) 971-9743 or use our online appointment request form.