How To Identify An Allergy To Dogs - And What To Do About It

  • 24/05/2017
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Do you suspect you have an allergy to your dog? Considering an estimated 10% of people in the UK are allergic to dogs or cats, you’re certainly not alone. In this article, you’ll learn how dog allergies are diagnosed and treated.

Why a Dog Allergy can be Difficult to Diagnose

In theory, identifying a dog allergy should be simple. If you notice sneezing, a rash or a runny nose when you’re near a dog, you probably have an allergy. Other symptoms can include:

  • Nasal congestion
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • General difficulty breathing
  • Red or itchy eyes

The problem is pet dander (the cause of allergies) can get everywhere – even into homes that don’t have a dog! It can also get stuck on clothes, bed sheets and carpets, so allergy symptoms appear even if your dog isn’t nearby. This is why a dog allergy is often mistaken for other allergens.

If you’re not sure whether you have a dog allergy, it’s a good idea to visit your doctor. Skin prick tests can be used to definitively uncover whether you have an allergy. They are usually the only way to be sure your symptoms are actually caused by dander rather than dust, pollen or other allergens.

5 Ways to Get Relief from a Dog Allergy

If you’re struggling with a dog allergy – don’t despair just yet. There are a number of things you can do to relieve allergy symptoms while minimising exposure to dander and saliva. A few of the most effective include:

  • Wash your hands and face regularly to get rid of dander before it can reach your eyes or mouth.
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstery daily. Make sure you use a pet vacuum with a HEPA filter or whole vacuum filtration, such as the ones found here.
  • Don’t give your dog freedom to roam around the entire house. Limit him to several rooms so dander becomes more manageable. Also, keep him out of your bedroom at all times.
  • Take off your clothes before entering the bedroom. This stops dander caught on your clothing from disturbing your sleep.
  • Run a continuous air filter to gradually reduce airborne allergens. Like your vacuum, it’s important to buy one with a HEPA filter.

There are also effective medications for reducing allergies. If your symptoms are bothering you, speak to your doctor about the options.

Do I Need to Get Rid of my Dog?

Many people have a tough time admitting they might be allergic to their dog. This is understandable, but it’s important to identify the root cause of an allergy to get relief.

The good news is that having an allergy usually doesn’t mean you need to give up your dog (unless symptoms become dangerous). By minimising exposure to dander, keeping your house clean and, if necessary, taking medication, most symptoms can be managed.

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