Just Being Near a Dog Makes Me Itch!

Dogs Are America’s Pet of Choice

Insurance Information Institute (iii.org) reports that, as of 2017-2018, about 85 million families in this country owned a pet.  

Of that number, WebMD.com estimates that 37 to 47% of those family pets are dogs. So, almost 40,000,000 U.S. families have a dog.  

People Who Have Allergies 

And did you know that three out of every ten Americans (9,816,000) are allergic to either cats or dogs?  That’s right.  I mean, for those in the United States suffering with dog-related allergies and living with them sounds like an almost insurmountable task!

Our furry friends, however, are not the only creatures people are allergic to.  They also allergic to rodents, amphibians, fish, birds, pigs and, amazingly, even cockroaches!

Allergic To Dogs Symptoms 

Let me ask you a couple of questions, OK?

After being with your friend and their dog for around 15 minutes to half an hour, do you find yourself coughing and wheezing?

Do your eyes get all red and itchy?

Does your nose get itchy, too?  And kinda runny and stuffy?

What about sneezing or some kind of skin reactions?

An Allergy Trigger

Of course, I’m no doctor – I don’t even play one on TV! – but I’d be willing to make a guess that you might have an allergy to pet dander. 

Dr. Bear - Miniature statue of a doctor with tools
Dr. Bear At Your Service

The American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology estimates that as much as 10% of the U.S. population is allergic to dogs (and even more react to cats!).  Can you believe that?  10% are allergic to Fluffy and Bailey!

The allergy trigger for most people who suffer from allergies is dogs’ dander.  Pet Dander. I’ve heard that phrase before, but what the heck is “dander”?  

Pet Dander– “Pet dander is composed of tiny flecks of skin shed by cats and dogs or any animal with feathers or fur.  Even animals with short hair, or those who are hairless, produce dander and release it into the environment.  The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes between 15 and 30% of allergy sufferers experience an adverse response to pet dander.”  (cuteness.com)

Dog's Hair Brush
Dog’s Hair in Brush

Dander attaches to pet hair, and that is what causes most pet allergies. (American Kennel Club (AKC.org).)  It can also be found in drool and urine.

It has been suggested that the immune systems of some people overreact to dog dander and attack it as if it were bacteria, and the allergy symptoms are side effects of the body’s attempt to destroy the allergen.

High Dander Dogs

Dobies, Labs, Akitas, German Shepherds, Siberian Huskies,Alaskan Malamutes, Chow Chows, and Great Pyreneesare known for having high dander counts and shedding a lot.

Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, English Bulldogs,Blood Hounds, and Bassett Hounds not only shed, they also drool – and some drool a lot!

St. Bernard (dog) at the beach.
St. Bernard at the Beach

“Hypoallergenic” Dogs

You may have heard the term “hypoallergenic” dogs. They are said to be breeds that do well with allergy sufferers.

“Hypoallergenic dogs” are great for people who can’t be around shedding dogs due to pet allergies.  That’s a good thing, right?  But according to the American Kennel Club, “there are no 100% hypoallergenic dogs” (AKC.org).

When most people think of hypoallergenic dogs they think of Poodles (all sizes) and Yorkshire Terriers, but hypoallergenic dogs come in all shapes and sizes, including Irish Water Spaniels, Portuguese Water Dogs, Maltese, Standard Schnauzers, and Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriersbecause they have non-shedding coats and so produce less dander. 

Yorkshire Terrier
Yorkie

That’s good news!   

The bad news is that any dog, no matter what their breed is, can potentially cause an allergic reaction.

Right about now, when you’re agonizing with your allergies, Bailey may not seem like “man’s best friend” to you.  What on earth do you do?

Allergic To Dogs – What To Do?

Well, you could avoid dogs – and all other animals – forever.  But that won’t work.  Remember, there are around 85,000,000 family pets in the U.S.?  Besides, all creatures produce allergens.

Or You Could Get A Pig!  Of course, if you’re a dog – or cat – person, this sounds like someone is making a joke, right?  Don’t think the pig experience in any way matches the dog experience.  Of course, to be fair, pigs (e.g., potbelly pigs) are increasingly popular pets.  (Molecule.com)

That doesn’t seem like the best idea, though.  Pigs grow to 500 pounds, so, if you live in an apartment or a small house, that might not be your best choice!  “Even so-called mini pigs, when fed a healthy diet, will grow much larger than you may expect.”  (Molecule.com)

Black and White Piglet
Black and White Piglet

Treating Dog Allergies

Since most pet allergies are similar to other nasal allergies and have similar symptoms, your first step would probably be to see your doctor and talk about how to treat dog allergies.

In many cases, doctors have recommended antihistamines, decongestants and nasal steroids.  In some cases, your doctor might even consider allergy shots.

Remember, though, I am not a doctor, so you do need to talk with your doctor about treatment suggestions.

Some Common Sense Things You Can Do

In order to avoid coming into contact with allergens, or, at the very least, minimize it, you can:

1 – Not have any pets at all.

2 – Clean your house regularly because your dog has free run of the house.

3 – Vacuum and dust often for the same reason.

4 – Clean the walls weekly because airborne particles in your home will land on the walls.

5 – Wash all the pet bedding, cages or aquariums regularly because that will limit the amount of dander in the environment.

6 – Wash all your clothes and bedding weekly for the same reason.

7 – Only allow pets in particular areas. 

8 – Bathe Bailey every week.

9 – Use a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.

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Resources:  iii.org,healthline.com, WebMD.org, Molekule.com, sheknows.com, thenest.com

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