How to Treat Dog Allergies
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Dogs may cause allergies in some people, or dog fur may contain other environmental allergens like mold, pollen, and dust mites. The allergic reaction happens when the immune system responds with hypersensitivity to these particular allergens.
The body creates antibodies in response to these foreign substances, which release chemicals like histamines. These chemicals cause allergy symptoms.
In this article, we discuss dog allergies, medications to treat them, and other possible treatments.
What is a Dog Allergy?
Dog allergens, which can cause allergy symptoms as well as asthma symptoms or make them worse, affect between 10 and 20 percent of the world’s population.
Dog allergens are present in the air, even in places where no pets exist. An allergy is caused by the proteins entangled in the dog’s fur, which then cause the allergic reaction. Dogs’ saliva, urine, and dander, which are dead skin cells, all contain these allergens.
However, some may develop allergies to certain dog breeds but not others, depending on the dog allergens that are present in each breed. People allergic to dogs may experience fewer symptoms because hypoallergenic dogs shed less.
If you feel you may be allergic to dogs, you might think about seeing an allergist. Allergists are medical professionals who can identify your allergies and offer a customized treatment plan that addresses your symptoms.
How Do I Know if I Have a Dog Allergy?
The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology lists the following symptoms of pet allergies:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery, or red eyes
- Skin rashes or hives
- Shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, or chest tightness
Although cats and dogs produce different allergens, it is possible to be allergic to only cats, only dogs, or both. However, since both cat and dog allergies share the same symptoms, both dog and cat allergies can be treated with the same medications. While the symptoms of pet allergies can be bothersome, they are manageable with allergy medications or, in more severe cases, allergy shots.
However, if you already have asthma, allergies to pets could exacerbate your condition. A 2018 study found that people with asthma and cat or dog allergies were more likely to experience asthma attacks when exposed to their triggers on a regular basis.
According to a previous study, allergies to cats are more prevalent than to dogs. However, more recent data revealed that there was little difference between the two. In the US, allergies to cats and dogs occurred at rates of 12.1% and 11.8%, respectively, in subjects 6 years and older.
What Types of Medications are there for Dog Allergies?
There are numerous medications that can treat allergies caused by dogs. Depending on your symptoms and how frequently you experience them, you should choose the best cat or dog allergy medication for you.
Dog allergies in humans are typically treated with medications that help control the symptoms of the allergy. The most common medications used to treat dog allergies in humans include:
- Decongestants: Decongestants lessen the nasal congestion caused by dog allergies. They work by reducing swelling in the nasal passages. Decongestants like phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) are common.
- Antihistamines: These medications are frequently used to treat allergy symptoms like runny noses, itching, and sneezing. Antihistamines include things like fexofenadine (Allegra), loratadine (Claritin), and cetirizine (Zyrtec).
- Nasal corticosteroids: Nasal corticosteroids are efficient at reducing nasal inflammation brought on by allergic reactions in dogs. They come in nasal spray form and contain drugs like fluticasone (Flonase) and mometasone (Nasonex).
- Leukotriene modifiers: Leukotrienes are chemicals released during an allergic reaction that have their effects blocked by leukotriene modifier medications. Leukotriene modifiers like montelukast (Singulair) are frequently prescribed for allergy management.
- Mast cell stabilizers: By preventing the release of allergic mediators from mast cells, mast cell stabilizers lessen allergic symptoms. Mast cell stabilizers, such as cromolyn sodium (NasalCrom), can be used to treat nasal allergy symptoms.
- Immunotherapy: For people with severe dog allergies, immunotherapy—specifically, allergy shots—may be advised. Dog allergens are injected into patients on a regular basis in small doses to gradually desensitize their immune systems. This treatment aims to reduce the severity of allergic reactions.
It is important to remember that these drugs are meant for human use and should not be given to dogs without proper veterinary supervision. Consult a veterinarian to get a proper diagnosis and treatment options if your dog has allergies.
Is There a Cure for Dog Allergies?
Dog or cat allergies have no known cures currently. However, there has been research on the potential advantages of immunotherapy, which involves exposing patients to trace amounts of pet allergens to help reduce chronic symptoms.
The term “allergy shot” can be used to describe this type of immunotherapy. By gradually making your body less sensitive to the allergen that your immune system disagrees with, it tries to alleviate your allergy symptoms.
Your doctor can advise you if allergy shots are an option for you if over-the-counter medications and other treatment options are not working. Initially, allergy shots are given every one to two weeks at their office or clinic. After you reach your target dose, you’ll likely continue to receive doses once every 4 weeks. You could get these under-the-skin injections for months or years, depending on how you react.
Can I Live with a Dog if I am Allergic?
If you are determined to get a pup despite having pet allergies, it is possible. But remember, no dog is truly hypoallergenic. In addition to the treatments mentioned above, you may want to consider the following:
- Invest in a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter
- Use a high-efficiency vacuum with a HEPA filter to regularly clean the floors
- Never let your dog sleep in your bedroom with you
- A weekly bath for your pup is recommended
As mentioned, no breed is truly hypoallergenic, but some breeds may produce fewer allergens than others. Breeds like the Afghan Hound, American Hairless Terrier, Bichon Frise, Irish Water Spaniel, Maltese, or Poodle might be a better option if you are allergic to dogs but still want a puppy of your own. Additionally, breeds like the Siberian, Javanese, Cornish Rex, and Balinese may be less likely to cause an allergic reaction in cat lovers with allergies.
It is likely that you will want to find a way to keep your four-legged friend around if you fell in love with them before learning that you are allergic to pets. Even if you have allergies, it is still possible to have a pet, though it will likely require more work and cost more money.
Even so, it might be time to find a new home for your dog if you are experiencing a severe allergic reaction with symptoms like wheezing, blocked nasal passages, or trouble sleeping. Specifically, if you experience severe wheezing or shortness of breath, you should seek medical attention right away because these signs may point to anaphylactic shock.
What are Some Ways to Manage Dog Allergies?
The best way to treat dog allergies is to prevent symptoms by limiting contact with them, which may come as no surprise.
Naturally, this is not always practical. Animals, including cats, dogs, and other pets, can greatly improve our lives. You can therefore try to reduce exposure in other ways. These preventative measures may reduce or even eliminate the need for over-the-counter medications.
- Confine your dog to a few select rooms
- Keep pups off the carpet and furniture.
- Wash your hands after you touch your dog
- Vacuum regularly to remove pet hair
- Invest in a HEPA air filter to help stop dust and dander spreading
There is no evidence of an allergy-free dog or cat, although some dog breeds have been said to be less likely to cause allergies. This is due to the fact that allergens from pets can be found almost anywhere, including in their saliva, skin, and fur. Dust and pollen can still be carried, even by shorter fur.
If you suffer from dog allergies, there are several treatments and precautions that can help make life with your pup more manageable. While it’s important to note that complete avoidance of dog allergens is the most effective approach, there are many medications that can help.