It’s every dog person’s nightmare. Your new love interest is allergic to your dog. Or worse, your second child (the human one) is starting to sneeze whenever your pup pads into the room. Pet allergies threaten the pup/person bond every day. In fact, New Yorkers for Companion Animals, a Manhattan-based animal rescue group, says allergies are one of the top-five reasons pet owners surrender their pets. But many dog people just can’t do it – those that suffer from allergies still manage to keep their dogs. That’s because they’ve figured out how to minimize those pesky airborne allergens their pup unwittingly distributes. As anyone with pet allergies will tell you, it’s not about the fur, it’s the protein found in the pup’s dander (skin flakes), saliva or/or urine. And if they just can’t wait to see if a natural resistance develops over time (as it does for some), we’ve got a few tricks to ease the sneeze.
Doggie Dander Do’s
Get with the Vet. Keeping your dog healthy is a critical factor for minimizing dog allergens. This is because pups with nutritional deficiencies, depression or anxiety tend to shed more and increase the dander in the air. Make sure to tell your vet about the allergy situation in your home and see if your dog’s a candidate for dietary supplements or a switch to a different food.
Preen the Pup. Studies shows that bathing dogs once a week significantly reduces the amount of pet allergens in the air. Consider using a pet shampoo that helps neutralize the allergens and limit bathing your dog to no more than once a week so you don’t dry out your dog’s skin, which is counterproductive. Frequent, even daily, brushing is another important step – just remember to have a non-allergic person take the pup outside so the allergens don’t enter your home. You can also try spray-on solutions to reduce dander like Allerpet and Nature’s Miracle Dander and Odor Eliminator to see if these work for you.
Easy Allergy Busters
Get in the Zone. We know you just want to hug and squeeze the pup, but if you’re allergic, it’s best to wash hands after petting and to discourage face licking or sharing a bed with the dog. Create a pet-free zone in your home that’s off limits to dogs, whether that’s the bedroom or particular furniture.
Get the Meds. Over-the-counter and prescription medications can help minimize pet allergy symptoms, but for persistent, tough-to-treat cases, a trip to the immunologist may be in order. Immunotherapy (allergy shots) can improve symptoms and works like a vaccine by gradually desensitizing a person’s immune system to the pet allergens.
Showing Allergens the Door
Go Fabric-Free. Carpets, drapes and fabric-covered sofas trap dander, dust and dirt and don’t let go – these are typically the greatest sources of allergens in the home. Consider swapping out the fabrics for tile or hardwood floors, plastic blinds and leather or wood furniture. Your sinuses will thank you.
Trade Up the Vac. Splurge on a high-performance vacuum cleaner with a high particulate HEPA filtration system. Then plug it in and regularly vacuum floors, furniture, mattresses and dog beds to keep the allergens under control.
Plug in to Air Filters. You can significantly reduce allergens in your home with HEPA or electrostatic air filters. Also, remember to change air filters in heating and cooling systems regularly to avoid forcing allergens back into your home.
More facts and tips from the Humane Society of the United States
Thank you to PJ Taylor for the photo.