- Rose Kennedy For the AJC
When man's best friend causes allergic reactions, remember you have options.
There are a host of alternative measures for reducing dog allergies that most pet owners consider much more bearable than finding Fido a new home, according to experts at Health.com.
So, don't give up before trying these seven ways to reduce dog allergies:
1. Make sure the dog is causing your symptoms. The dog allergy issue begins with dander, a common allergen produced by your dog. Dander consists of microscopic flakes of skin that look like dandruff along with proteins from saliva and urine. The mixture can trigger allergies and aggravate asthma.
Don't rush to the conclusion that your pup's dander is causing your symptoms before getting an allergy test. Dr. Gregory Diette, an asthma specialist and associate professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told Health.com that pets might be a relatively small contributor to allergies. "One mistake I've seen [physicians] make is to generally recommend that asthmatics not have cats, dogs, or other furred pets when they haven't done the allergy testing to prove whether there's an abnormal response to that type of animal," he said.
Experts at the Humane Society of the United States also warn against assuming you are allergic to your beloved dog without allergy tests. One possibility, says the organization, is that you're actually allergic to a specific tree pollen that got on your dog's fur during a walk, not your dog himself.
2. Consider a breed that tends to cause less allergic reactions. It's not a magic fix, because the only pets that are completely hypoallergenic have scaly skin, according to Health.com. But there are dog breeds that are said to be better for people with allergies. If you're not a pet owner yet, you might want to consider one of these practically hypoallergenic breeds from Health.com's list of "9 Dogs Less Likely to Aggravate Allergies."
- Bedlington Terriers with curly, wooly coats
- Bichon Frise with a soft, silky undercoat and coarse, curly outer coat
- Chinese Crested, which hardly shed
- Irish Spaniel with curly coats
- Kerry Blue Terriers with a soft, dense coat
- Poodles with their soft, curly fur
3. Isolate your dog from family members with allergies. Once you've determined that someone in the family suffers from an allergy to dogs, Health.com experts advise isolating the pet from allergic family members as much as possible. Keep the pet outdoors, on another floor of the house or at least out of the bedrooms.
4. Consider a plastic mattress cover. Experts aren't completely sold on mattress covers as allergen reducers, but they may help keep dander out of beds.
5. Replace carpet with tile or wood. Carpets tend to trap dander and keep it around as an ongoing irritation.
6. Use HEPA air cleaners throughout the rest of the home. The HSUS suggests the air filters to trap dander. They also recommend avoiding dust-and-dander-catching furnishings such as cloth curtains and blinds and carpeted floors in homes with furry pets and dog allergy sufferers.
7. Bathe your pet on a weekly basis to reduce the level of allergy-causing dander. You and your pup might both hate this suggestion from the HSUS, but isn't anything better than being parted permanently?