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I’m Allergic To My Dog! Now What?

  Seven out of ten households in the U.S. have a dog.  And one out of ten people are allergic to dogs, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.  So what are the odds that many among us are living with our allergens? 

  Answer:  High.  But not every dog owner who is allergic to their dog knows it up front.  Then a year later you are having watery eyes and an itchy throat.  It can take that much time for the body to develop antibodies to a dog’s dander – the flakes of dead skin cells that slough off and cause allergic reactions.  (It’s not the dog’s fur that causes the problem.)  Or it may be in the pet’s saliva that causes hives on a person after the dog licks them.  But you most likely do not have to give up your furry family member.  Here’s what you can do to keep Fido, and you, best friends.

  Go to an allergist for testing.  It may not be the dog your allergic to, but something ON the dog.  Considering this time of year, your dog may have pollen on his coat from rolling around on the ground outside.  If you find you are allergic, it would help to create an “allergy-free zone” in your house, like closing off the bedroom where you spend 8 out 24 hours a day.  (Be sure the dog doesn’t go in there.)   And to the extent possible, limit fabric.  Allergens collect in upholstery, rugs, and drapes.  Carpet should be replaced with wood or tile floors if possible.   Vacuum floors using HEPA filters, don’t sweep and get those allergens spewing in the air.  Wipe down walls. Buy washable pet bedding. Bathe your dog once a week and wipe him off frequently.  Brush or comb your dog (outside).  Dander hangs on fur, so the more you can get off, the less that will hang around in the house.

  So giving up your best friend doesn’t necessarily need to happen.   Know that over the counter meds can help.  But realize also that just as an allergic reaction to a dog can come out of nowhere, it sometimes disappears suddenly, too.  But if you think it’s too much to go through for a dog, then it’s best to visit Wal-Mart and get a stuffed animal.  That will prevent heartache for both of you.     

Vicki Reeves

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