10% of the UK population is affected by pet allergens. If you are allergy-affected, yet also count yourself as a dog lover wanting to give a dog a home or, indeed, if a dog is already a part of your family, take a look at our frequently asked questions about dog allergies below:
Dogs produce specific proteins in their saliva and urine which are potent allergens for some people. The allergens are readily transferred to the skin or hair of the dog and then shed into the surroundings as tiny particles known as pet dander. Since these particles are tiny, they readily become airborne and can be inhaled by an allergic person. They also travel from room to room, and persist even when the dog has been removed from the premises or is not present in the room. In an allergic person, inhalation of dog dander causes an over-reaction of the immune system which ends up with production of histamine from mast cells, a type of immune cell. Histamine triggers the typical allergy symptoms such as: sneezing, watery eyes, coughing and itching.
Unless you're giving the dog away to a good home, you should do all you can to minimise exposure to dog dander.
Useful tips include:
Keep the dog outside or confine the animal to the kitchen area or any other room with fewer soft furnishings to trap the dog dander. At the very least, be sure never to allow the dog upstairs or into bedrooms.
A proper Allergy vacuum cleaner, fitted with leakage free HEPA filtration will trap dog dander, and should be used regularly to vacuum the carpet and soft furnishings.
Wash covers, cushions, bedding and so on regularly with the award-winning Allergen Wash Laundry Detergent from Allersearch to neutralise the dog dander.
Wash the dog at least once a week with allergy friendly Pet+ pet shampoo.
Consider using a HEPA air purifier or ionisers to remove airborne dog allergens.
There are some products you can use to reduce dander levels, such as special shampoos and sprays for surfaces. To treat your own symptoms, an antihistamine and maybe steroid nasal sprays are useful, although you may have to try a few to see which ones are most effective. It could also be worth investigating immunotherapy, where the immune system is trained not to react to the presence of dog allergen (it involves a series of injections containing the allergen over a period of time). Finally, if you haven't already, it could be worth having a skin prick test at an allergy clinic to confirm that it is dogs you are allergic to and not something else such as house dust mite.
Yes, they do. Suspect allergy if your dog has any of the following:
More scratching than usual
Dogs are allergic to the same things as humans, namely; house dust mite, mould, pollen, animal dander, foods, perfumes and common household cleaning products. If you do suspect your dog has an allergy, then consult the vet. Dog allergy can be treated with antihistamines and allergy shots. Vacuuming and cleaning your dog’s bedding with allergy friendly cleaning products will also help reduce allergen load.
The best advice might be to not get a dog in the first place and maybe find some other way of expressing your love of animals. This can be done by adopting an animal in the local zoo or farm which can be visited occasionally. This is better than facing the heartbreak of having to give your dog away in the future if allergic reactions become unmanageable. If you are set on going ahead with getting a dog, then go for a short-haired breed like a terrier, as it will shed less hair. Although, research has shown that there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic or even non-allergenic dog breed. All dogs shed dander so, when a dog has become part of the family and someone has dog allergies the aim is to keep levels down and limit the day to day exposure of pet dander as much as possible.