Having been man’s best friend for thousands of years and still the most popular choice of pets, dogs are definitely part of our society. For someone with dog allergy, however, living in a dog-loving world can be quite uncomfortable. People with dog allergies have developed an adverse immune reaction to dog dander, a protein produced by glands in a dog’s skin. This dog dander can get everywhere! Fortunately, if you are one of the multitudes with this type of allergy, there are ways for you to treat their adverse reactions as well as reduce exposure to these allergens.
Dog Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of dog allergies are similar to other nasal allergies such as coughing and wheezing, red and/or itchy eyes, runny, itchy and stuffy nose, and sneezing. Skin reactions can also occur. For example, some peopleas skin would break out when a dog licks them or others might develop hives. People with asthma can have even worse reactions.
So what causes dog allergy? Most people would think that dog fur is what causes the allergic reaction. But experts say that this is not the case. The problem doesn’t lie in the fur but rather a dog’s dander, or the flakes of dead skin that they shed. Allergens also present in a dog’s urine and saliva. When the dog grooms itself, the saliva dries on its fur and flakes off. So why do some people have adverse reactions to these allergens? Those with pet allergy have oversensitive immune systems. Their bodies identify the dander and react to it like they would to any other bacteria or virus, trying to expel what they see as a threat.
Since reactions to dog allergy can mimic other forms of allergy, it would be best if you have it diagnosed. Visit your doctor and get a RAST, radioallergosorbent test. Itas a good idea to take the test so you can find out if it’s really dog dander you’re allergic to rather than pollen or mold.
Dog allergy can be treated with the usual allergy drugs. Your doctor might recommend antihistamines and decongestants. Antihistamines are over-the-counter drugs that block the effects of allergy symptoms. Some brands include Allegra, Claritin, Benadryl and Zyrtec. They are available as tablets but are also available as sprays such as Astelin. Decongestants meanwhile reduce your noseas swelling and relieve decongestion. Prescription steroids can also treat allergies.
Medications will definitely help in relieving adverse allergic reactions but in the long run, you should also follow some tips on how to reduce your exposure to dog dander. First, keep your distance. Tempting as it is to hug and pet a dog in close quarters, this should be avoided. If you live with a dog, keep him or her away from your bedroom so you can get a good night’s sleep without having to sneeze or scratch every few minutes. Next, use your medicine. If you know you’ll be getting into contact with dogs, take them beforehand so you can suppress the allergic reactions before they start. Know that dog owners often carry dog dander with them so even if your friends arenat bringing their dogs with them, they can still bring the dander with them. Controlling your environment is also important so don’t forget to clean your house and even filter the air.
It’s hard for people with dog allergy to live with dogs. But there are some ways you can make your life easier. If you or your family member has dog allergy, consult with your doctor and control the symptoms. Uncontrolled allergies can even lead to asthma and if the allergic reactions persist, you might have to make the difficult decision of letting go of your dog. But if you take control of the symptoms and of your environment, perhaps there can be a way for you and Fido to live peacefully together.
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