Are you desperate to adopt a dog, but worried that your, or a family member’s, allergies might be a problem? Don’t worry. There are things you can do to manage your allergy and to enjoy the benefits of dog ownership, too.
Firstly, it’s important to dispel a couple of myths.
It is not dog hair that causes allergic reactions in humans. It is actually certain proteins found in the oil secretions from dogs’ skin and saliva. The reason you may think it’s the hair that’s the problem, is that the proteins are carried into the environment on shed hair and skin flakes.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a ‘hypoallergenic’ dog breed. It is possible that the curly hair of dogs such as the Bichon Frise and the Poodle helps prevent the proteins responsible for allergies getting into the environment in as high quantities. Small breeds have less surface area for the proteins to come from, which explains why there may be a lesser reaction with these types of dogs.
Some people report building up an immunity to their dog over time. Others, such as children, may grow out of the allergy altogether. However, for some, the allergy may worsen with increased exposure, so don’t depend on building immunity if you’re considering getting a dog.
Brushing your dog is key to controlling allergies. Groom your dog every day or so during springtime as your dog sheds its winter coat, and at least once a week throughout the rest of the year. You should always groom your dog outside, and it should always be done by someone without allergies. This will prevent so much loose hair from getting into the environment inside your house.
Finally, some tips for minimising the effects of allergies in your home:
- Sofas and other upholstered furniture is likely to retain more allergens, so it is worth trying to keep your dog off the furniture or restrict access to those rooms, such as living rooms and bedrooms. However, this might not be practical.
- Try and keep your dog in rooms with hard floors rather than those with carpets, if possible.
- Keep dogs out of the allergic person’s bedroom altogether.
- Wash your dog’s bedding frequently.
- Vacuum your house regularly, daily if possible. Also, wipe clean all surfaces regularly.
Think carefully before getting a dog if you suffer from allergies. How severe is your allergy? Are you prepared to handle it if your allergies do not get any better over time? Talk to your doctor and discuss any possible medication or other approaches that might aid in treating your allergy so that you and your best friend can live together in harmony.