A dog is an adorable family member. The pet’s unconditional love just melts our hearts. The only problem having a dog is pet allergies. If any family member is allergic to the dog, it becomes really tough to cope with the situation. It has been found that almost 30% of Americans suffer from dog allergies.
People suffering from asthma and are prone to allergies can be at a huge risk when it comes to keeping pets at home. There are specific reasons for the occurrence of an allergic attack due to the presence of a dog.
Cause of dog allergies
An allergic reaction is a defense mechanism of our physiological system where an unwanted foreign protein enters the immunity system starts reacting against it. This unwanted protein is not recognized by our immune system and specific measures are taken to protect our organs. This type of protein is called allergens. These proteins are otherwise harmless. Only a hypersensitive person will show reactions or symptoms when allergic to a dog.
Allergens are produced by a dog and then passed on to its fur hair. Every dog sheds dander containing this kind of protein or allergens. When a sensitive individual comes in contact with such proteins, he starts showing symptoms of an allergic reaction immediately.
Dog dander can be anywhere. Due to the free movement of a pet inside a home, dander can be found on the floor, clothes, upholstery, couch, walls, etc. In fact, dander remains and circulates inside a house for a long period unless it is thoroughly cleaned.
What are the Symptoms and signs of dog allergies
Dog allergy can be mild, moderate or severe. It depends on how a person is sensitive to dog dander. Symptoms can persist for quite a few days.
The signs and symptoms are mentioned below.
- Itching and swelling of the membranes surrounding your eyes and nose
- Formation of red patches on skin where a dog has licked
- Shortness of breath, hives, coughing and wheezing occurring within 15 – 30 minutes of exposure to a dog
- rashes on neck, chest or face
- Asthma attack
It has also been concluded by the medical experts that children suffering from dog allergies also become prone to eczema, a painful and serious skin inflammation that needs immediate medical attention.
On comprehensive research, it has also been concluded by the doctors and researchers that exposing a newborn to a pet dog will develop immunity to dander. When a baby is close to a dog, he/she is not prone to allergies rather become immune to such anomalies.
How can we treat allergies
The best way to ward off allergies from dog dander is to keep the pet away from your home. It is quite hard for a family to keep a dog away. On minimizing the exposure by restricting the dog’s movement in the house, it can help an allergic person to alleviate the issues.
The different ways to treat dog allergies are:
Over-the-counter (OTC) antihistamines can be administered to stop the allergic reaction and get relief from the symptoms. For nasal blockage, using nasal corticosteroids can be beneficial. Similarly, using nasal sprays available over the counter can be used to cure nasal blockage. In moderate to severe cases, allergy shots are recommended by the doctors. Shortness of breath and congestion due to swollen nasal passage needs to be treated with decongestants.
The best natural remedy to treat nasal blockage is saline irrigation. Using saline water to wash nasal passage helps to remove blockage or congestion without any side effects. Mix 1/8th teaspoon table salt in distilled water and use it as a nasal saline spray at home.
Changes in lifestyle
Changing a few things at home and in the surrounding might help a hypersensitive person to reduce allergic reactions.
- Setting dog-free zones at home will reduce allergic attacks considerably.
- Bathe your dog once weekly using a vet-suggested shampoo and it should be done by a person who is not allergic to dogs.
- Removing carpets, horizontal blinds, upholstery, and curtains that catch and conceal animal dander very easily. It will help you to keep your house dander-free by using easy cleaning methods.
- HEPA purifiers are the best choices for reducing airborne allergens indoors.
- In certain times of the year, let your dog roam free outside most of the time but in a controlled and humane way.
- If you are looking for a dog even if one of your family members is allergic, look for hypoallergenic dogs.
Diagnosis of dog allergies
If you witness any kind of reaction repeating over time, it is necessary to visit a doctor and get an allergy test done. A skin prick test, common to allergic diagnosis, will be done by an allergist to find out what substance you are allergic to. Within 30 minutes, the test will show the results. If you are allergic, your skin will show symptoms like redness, swelling, etc.
If you are allergic to dogs, try to keep away from pets. Maintain precautions when you are visiting someone’s home or going to a new place. Make sure you are in a dog-free zone and keep medications handy based on the degree of severity of your allergy.