Did you know that between 15 and 30% of Americans have a pet allergy? While allergic reactions are twice as likely with cats, they can be far more severe when they involve dogs — especially if you have asthma.
However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your dog. Once you understand what’s triggering your reaction, you can take steps to manage it.
Dr. Shailee Madhok and our team offer state-of-the-art testing and treatment at Regional Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Center, with locations in Johnson City and Kingsport, Tennessee, and Abingdon, Virginia. You can rest easy knowing you’ll get the help you need to manage your allergies. And that includes finding ways to ensure you can still enjoy the companionship of your four-legged best friend.
Getting to the source of the problem
When you have an allergic reaction, your body overreacts to something normally harmless. In the case of dogs, it’s a specific protein they secrete through their saliva, dander, and urine — not because of shedding fur.
What makes this allergy especially tricky is that the protein doesn’t stay on the animal. Instead, it passes from the dog onto anything in the environment, from clothing and carpets to walls and couch cushions. Pet dander also remains in the air for long periods, easily finding its way into your lungs or eyes and causing irritation.
And, while their fur isn’t an allergen, it can collect dander and dust, two common allergy triggers.
How to live with a dog, even if you have allergies
Allergies can vary in severity, from a minor annoyance to downright miserable. At the end of the day, the only way to 100% eliminate your problem involves removing your dog from your home. However, we understand that’s not always the answer because our pets are part of the family.
The good news is that you can live with your faithful friend, even if you have allergies. Our team recommends taking these steps to enjoy time with your dog without having a severe reaction.
First, finding out exactly what you’re allergic to can help. It might not even be your dog causing your symptoms! If you have allergies, allergy testing plays an essential role in alerting you to the specific allergens you may react to so you can take control of your body’s immune response.
Practice good canine hygiene
When people have dog allergies, they assume they can solve the issue with a “hypoallergenic” dog. But, remember, shedding fur isn’t the problem; most people are allergic to protein secreted in pet dander — or dead skin.
Having your dog groomed regularly significantly reduces the dandruff finding its way into your home.
Create a sacred space — in bed
We understand; who doesn’t love a good cuddle? Trust us; you can still cuddle with your pup! Just don’t do it where you sleep. That’s simply too much exposure for hours while you’re sleeping. Plus, your body doesn’t need to be fighting off an allergic reaction while you’re recharging.
Instead, teach your dog to sleep in their own bed so you both get great sleep and reduce your exposure to dander at the same time.
Sometimes, an over-the-counter antihistamine is all the help you need to stay symptom-free. However, our team could prescribe a stronger option — and if you have a history of severe reactions, you may need a rescue inhaler.
Either way, take your medication as directed, and you’ll see your symptoms improve. We also offer immunotherapy and allergy shots for long-term allergy relief.
Flush your troubles away
Finally, if your allergy symptoms mostly affect your nose, try irrigating with saline. This approach can flush away irritants and provide additional relief. Talk to our team before irrigating your sinuses, and only use approved methods and sterile water when rinsing.
Worried you’re allergic to your dog? We can help you enjoy your pet without the daily symptoms. To learn more about allergy testing and treatment for you or another family member, contact our office to schedule a consultation by calling 423-246-6445 today.