Are You Allergic to Your Dog? Tips to Minimize the Symptoms of Dog Allergies

It has been estimated that there are over 70 million dogs in the United States alone and that perhaps as many as 40% of U.S. households have a pet dog. Their popularity is due to their unique ability to enrich pet owners’ lives and provide companionship. Unfortunately, many people who suffer from allergies are also allergic to dogs. In fact, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that as many as 30% of people with allergies have allergic reactions to dogs and cats, although cat allergies appear to be about twice as common as dog allergies. These pet allergens can even trigger an asthma attack in some people with the condition.

Dog allergens are primarily found in pet dander, saliva and even urine. A dog’s fur is not generally the culprit, although it can collect dander, saliva and urine or other common allergens such as pollen, dust mites or mold.

Dog allergy symptoms vary from person to person, but common symptoms may include:
• Stuffy nose, sneezing and nasal congestion
• Coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath
• Inflamed or watery eyes
• Skin rash

There are medical tests to help determine if someone has a dog allergy and there are also services available to test for the presence of dog allergens in a home.

Fortunately, there are also simple steps that pet owners with dog allergies can take to reduce the presence of dog allergens and to reduce their exposure. They include the following:
• Bathe dogs on a regular basis
• Keep dogs out of bedrooms and especially out of people’s beds
• Wash bedding in hot water
• Don’t allow dogs on furniture
• Keep dogs outside when possible or practical
• Vacuum, clean and dust on a regular basis, but try not to aerosolize the allergens
• Use a HEPA air cleaner