Friday, January 17, 2020

Allergic In A World Full Of Dogs

Dogs seem to be everywhere people are nowadays and while dog lovers are thrilled to have their best friends along with them everywhere they go, allergy sufferers tend to have a hard time finding any actual “dog free” zones. There are restaurants, campgrounds, even hotels who will accommodate dogs but, where do people go if they can’t bear to be near them? Of course, service dogs are extremely important and it’s great they are accepted in so many places. People who rely on them deserve to go about their day to day lives and they should be able to come and go freely. But what do people do who can’t breathe around them? Worse yet, what would someone do who would require a service dog and is allergic to their own service dog at the same time? I imagine allergy medicine or a series of shots would have to suffice. But, do we just take allergy medicine every day before we head out just in case we run into a dog?

It’s almost a taboo subject considering you can’t find too much online about this topic. When I search for dog allergies and phrases such as “Can dogs and dog allergies make me sick?” the majority of the search results are about dogs who have allergies and dogs that are sick. It seems you have to dig and dig to even find any kind of help or possible tips on relief! Premier Allery & Asthma has a great blog with lots of advice for people with peanut allergies, cat allergies, even sesame allergies.

You may have heard the phrase, “But, people can’t be allergic to dog hair!” or they may have tried to explain that there are breeds of dogs that nobody is allergic to. (Hypoallergenic dogs!) But that’s not entirely true. Besides the fact that the majority of allergy sufferers actually have a problem with dander than they do dog hair, the real source of allergies is often a protein that is in the saliva or urine of cats and dogs. This protein sticks to the dead, dried flakes, which is dander. So, while you may be able to find a hotel advertised as having “allergy-free rooms” not only will you most likely pay a lot more money for your room, if it’s a hotel that regularly accepts dogs in other sections of the hotel, there could still be dander floating around.

Oh yes, and as for these magical hypoallergenic dogs, they simply do not exist. Your friends might tell you absolutely cannot be allergic to their dog or you could have a dog of your own if you spend the money on one of these mythical creatures. It’s just not how it works. Sure, there are some dogs that are often advertised as being “hypoallergenic” but this is typically only because they don’t shed as often as other dogs. Could someone who is allergic to dogs still have a dog for a pet? Sure thing! This will require some potential changes in your home but people do successfully keep a pet or bring a new pet into their home even when they’re sneezing and rubbing their eyes. (Allergies can also cause dry, itchy skin and quite a few other concerns. People with allergies have oversensitive immune systems so there are several ways our bodies can react to what it thinks is a virus or bacteria.)

First, if you haven’t already had an allergy test to determine the actual underlying issue, you could contact Premier Allergy & Asthma and schedule a consultation. (If there isn’t a location close to you, you can find a local allergy specialist or clinic in your area.) If you find that you are indeed allergic to your furry friend, there are a few ways to help manage the dander in your home. Your doctor will be able to help with any suggestions and you can also start here:

I'm allergic but I refuse to give up my pet!

1) Keep your pet out of your bedroom and other rooms you spend a lot of time in.

2) Keep your pet outside a little extra but only when weather permits!

3) Remove your carpet and choose some nice hardwood flooring. If you must keep your carpet, start stocking up on carpet cleaner because you should do this frequently.

4) Bathe your pet weekly.

5) Room air cleaners with HEPA filters can help remove dander from the air.

6) Plastic mattress covers could help at least keep dander out of beds.

7) Frequent vacuuming may actually be worse than you think. Your vacuum may cause the dander to fly around the air for quite a while longer which could cause allergy symptoms to be worse. You could go the extra mile and grab a newer vacuum with a HEPA filter but, this could still cause a cloud of dander to float around the air.

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