Managing Dog Allergies: Answers to a Common Problem

Statistics show that anywhere from 60-70% of American households include at least one dog or cat. The numbers also indicate that up to 10% of the population suffers from an allergy to some type of animal. The most common culprit to animal allergies is cats, but the next pet in line is a dog. Because dog allergies are a common problem, the good news is that there is plenty of information available on how to treat and manage an allergic reaction to your pet. Particularly if your reaction is not severe, and if you do not have other complications such as asthma, you can successfully manage your allergic condition and enjoy many symptom-free days.

Identifying a Dog Allergy

If you suspect that you or a family member is allergic to the family pet, the best way to know for sure is to remove that person from the environment with the animal for a week or two. Removing the animal from the situation may not be an effective means of diagnosis, since pet dander can remain in the environment that the animal lives in for up to six months after the pet is removed. If this process is too difficult to do, you can also ask your doctor to perform an allergy test in his office to see if you do indeed have a dog allergy. This is usually done through a medical history and a blood test.

Treatment Options

Dog allergies usually come from allergens that are contained within the dander or saliva of the animal. These allergens tend to have the ability to cling to many surfaces, as well as the capacity for a long life. This quality makes it difficult to completely rid a home of the allergens responsible for dog allergies, even if the animal is removed from the environment. It generally will take up to six months for the home to become allergen free once the pet is removed. The other problem in treating dog allergies is that many pet owners are quite attached to their dog and do not want to be faced with the decision to give it to another home. If your allergy symptoms are mild, you may still be able to keep your pet by following a few guidelines within your home environment.

First, keep your pet out of the bedroom. Since this is where you spend a large percentage of your time, reducing the allergens in this area can greatly reduce your symptoms from your dog allergies. Getting rid of carpet that can harbor the allergens is a good idea. Instead, opt for bare floors that can be mopped regularly, and throw rugs that can be washed in hot water. An air cleaner with a HEPA filter can also be an effective way to keep allergens at bay in certain areas of your house, as long as it is run at least four hours every day.

Dog allergies may be a common problem for many people, but they don't have to get in the way of your daily life. With some lifestyle choices and treatment options, you can enjoy your life - and your pet - with fewer symptoms every day.