Millions of people live with allergies, but many of them have no idea what is causing the runny noses, watery eyes, wheezing and asthma symptoms. They have no idea it’s their fur baby that’s making them sick. Others know they have pet allergies but aren’t willing to give away a family member. And yet others discover they are allergic to their new puppy, after the puppy is brought home.
Today, I’m going to show you how you can live sneeze-free with your dog!
While it’s not possible to get rid of dog allergies, it certainly is possible to manage them. If you’re allergic to your dog (or suspect you are) you should know that you can live with your dog and your dog allergies. I have had allergies since I was born. I’m allergic to dogs, cats, peanuts and all tree nuts, yet amazingly I have had a dog in my presence literally my entire life. Learn the ways that I have successfully managed dog allergies:
#1 Fewer Dog Kisses = Fewer Symptoms
One of the most common household allergens (behind the dust mite) is pet allergen. It’s a common misconception that people are allergic to the skin or fur (dog dander) of their dog. It’s just not true! There are proteins in your dog’s saliva (such as Can f1 and Can f2) that are a major source of allergic reactions. These proteins are found in dog urine as well. Every time your dog licks itself, little bits of these proteins are carried by the saliva onto your dog’s skin and fur. The saliva dries up and flakes off into tiny particles. These particles stick to everything, including your dog’s skin and fur and everything in your home.
- No matter how much you love your dog never let it lick you,
- Especially on the face.
Those kisses are sweet, but they are loaded with the very allergen that makes you sick. If you love your dog and are allergic to your dog, don’t let it kiss you.
#2 Feed Essential Oils to Reduce Dry Skin
Make sure your dog gets a diet rich in essential fats. These will work to keep your dog’s skin in top condition. Since that skin gets coated in the allergy-causing saliva on a regular basis, you want to make sure it stays on the dog as long as possible. If the skin is on the dog, you aren’t going to inhale it. Your dog needs a diet high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
- Check the label of your dog food to see if it contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids or their sources
- Sources of fatty acids are flaxseed, canola, walnut, soybeans, chia, hemp, and fish
- Change your dog food if you don’t see these ingredients on the label or
- Start feeding supplements like Super Pure Omega 3 if your dog has dry skin
It’s a change that will benefit both of you.
#3 Clean Dog Toys to Wash Away Allergens
Dogs play with toys. Dogs carry toys in their mouths. Dog’s mouths are full of saliva. The saliva is full of the allergy-causing proteins. Do you see the problem? To reduce your exposure to these allergens make sure you wash your dog’s toys on a regular basis.
- Buy toys that can be tossed in the washer or the dishwasher.
- Wash plush toys in the washing machine with fragrance free laundry detergent
- Washhard toys in the dishwasher with an eco-friendly automatic dishwashing detergent.
- If you’ve got toys that can’t go in the washer or dishwasher, wash them by hand with hot water with liquid dish detergent.
- If the toy can’t be washed at all, then it’s time to toss the toy. Toss it in the trash, not to the dog.
#4 Establish a No Dog Zone for Allergy Recovery
Your bed is comfy, cozy, and full of fibers just waiting to grab onto that dog allergen and never let go. Sleep is a time for your body to rest and recover from the day’s stresses and exposures to chemical and biologic bug-a-boos. If you have allergies, this time is crucial to maintaining your immune system. If you are allergic to your dog, you can’t afford to spend 6 to 8 hours with a continued exposure while you sleep.
- As much as you want to snuggle and cuddle with your dog, establish a night time routine that ends with you in bed without the dog and the bedroom door closed.
- Put allergy-proof zippered covers on your mattress and pillows to keep them allergen-free.
- Change clothes in the bathroom to keep from spreading allergens in your bedroom.
- Establishing a bedtime routine is comforting to your pet and keeping the bedroom dog-free is a comfort to your immune system.
#5 Wash Dog Bedding to Remove Allergens
Your dog’s bed is a hotbed of your dog’s allergen. Your dog grooms itself on its bed, spreading the allergen from mouth to skin and fur. Your dog sheds that allergen, skin, and fur all over their bed.
- Wash your dog’s bedding weekly to reduce the allergen load. Use an eco-friendly laundry detergent like the GrabGreen 3in1 Laundry Detergent to remove allergens without leaving any chemical residue to irritate your dog’s skin.
- Select dog beds and bedding made with materials that can be easily laundered and
- Make sure the bed cover is easy to get on an off.
#6 Keep Linens Clean for Best Sleep Yet
If you love your dog, you will keep your bedding washed as well. No matter how careful you are, you are going to get your beloved’s allergen on your hair and clothes. Anything on your hair or clothes is going to end up in your bed. Even if you keep your dog out of your bedroom, allergens will hitch a ride in.
- Wash your sheets, pillowcases and blankets every 7 days in 140°F water to get rid of dog allergen, dust mites, and other household allergens.
- Launder bedding with a fragrance-free detergent. GrabGreen Fragrance Free 3in1 Laundry Detergent formula has no fragrance and no masking fragrance to irritate your sensitive respiratory system.
- Select bed linens that will stand up to frequent hot water washing
#7 Know When to Wash Your Dog
How frequently you wash your dog depends on the breed of your dog and where and how your dog is active. Inside dogs need less washing; outside dogs need more washing. You have to strike a delicate balance between keeping the allergen level down without drying out the dog’s skin (which makes it flake more) or affecting the pH level (also promotes flaky skin). From the dog’s point of view, a vet will tell you that it isn’t necessary to wash your dog more than once a month. From your point of view, an allergist will tell you to wash your dog once a week. It is up to you to figure out which works best for you and your dog. Every situation is unique.
- Double coated dogs like Shelties and wiry coated dogs like Terriers and Poodles can be washed once a month, more frequent washing will irritate their skin
- Dogs that go outside frequently should be washed more often (up to once a week unless the dog’s skin is dry)
- Use a gentle shampoo made especially for dogs. Do not use human shampoo or dishwashing liquid. These will dry the skin and expose you to more allergens. Plus your dog will itch.
- Be sure to brush your dog before the bath. It makes washing away the allergens and brushing after the batch much easier.
#8 Benefits of Brushing
At a minimum, you should brush your dog once a week. For some dogs and their owner’s brushing is a bonding experience. It feels good and works to remove allergen stuck to the fur.
- If you are highly allergic to your dog, wear a mask while brushing your dog.
- Use the right brush or comb for your dog’s coat.
- Don’t waste money on attachments to vacuum your dog.
- Check out the Furminator.
- Brush your dog outside.
#9 Air Cleaners – The Right One is Awesome – The Wrong One is a Waste
You can keep hard surfaces clean. You can keep the dog clean. But inevitably small allergen particles will escape and become airborne. Catch them before they get to you by running an air cleaner in the room you and the dog enjoy together.
- Stay away from ionizers and ozone machines. They won’t help.
- Buy a machine with a true H.E.P.A. filter (removes 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns).
- Size does matter. A filter that is not large enough to handle the air in the room won’t make much difference. Here’s how to make that calculation.
#10 Clean Without Spreading Allergens
If you can’t manage to keep things clean, hire a maid. Those little dried up allergen particles stick to everything. That is what it is important to clean at least weekly. It is also important to clean properly. Much of what we call “cleaning” is just tossing settled dust and allergens back into the air.
- Wear a mask when you clean
- Dust with damp cloths. Even if you just spray your rag with a fragrance free all purpose cleaner it will help particles adhere to the rag and prevent them from entering the air.
- Old tee shirts and dish towels make great dusting cloths. Just spray them down, dust, and toss in the wash when you are done.
- At a minimum, dust and vacuum weekly.
- Start at the top of a room and work down. Dust high then low and save floors for last.
- Don’t forget baseboards, window sills, and decorative molding.
#11 Over the Counter Allergy Medication
Although I don’t like taking medications, it’s often a quick solution. Certain antihistamines really help to reduce sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes associated with allergens. Benadryl is effective, but the problem is that it makes you sleepy. A better choice for daytime is anything containing cetrizine. A common brand is Zyrtec.
#12 Avoid Fiber Surfaces for Better Health
If you have allergies of any type, always pick hard surfaces over fiber surfaces. Fiber surfaces catch allergens and cannot be cleaned without washing. If you have carpet, it is a magnet for allergens. Also, you can’t clean carpet. You can spend money on carpet cleaning, but you will never get carpet clean and allergy-free, no matter how much you spend.
- Select hard floors (tile, wood, laminate, painted concrete) over carpeting.
- Pick leather and wood furniture over fabric upholstery.
- Opt for blinds and washable curtains over draperies.
- To add warmth to a room, use throw rugs that can go in the wash.
- Can’t replace that upholstered couch? Cover it with washable covers and launder the covers regularly.
#13 Vacuum with the Right HEPA Vac
It is important to vacuum regularly. However, if you don’t use a vacuum with a HEPA filter you are just taking settled allergens and making them airborne. You are actually decreasing the air quality.
- Vacuum your floors and furniture regularly with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner.
- Use the right vacuum tool for the surface you need to clean. A round dusting brush is your best friend.
- Beater brushes are great for low pile rugs, but not necessary for hard floors.
- Vacuum walls with a dusting brush every few months if you don’t wipe them down.
#14 Rev Up your Immune System
Your dog allergy is caused by a defect in your immune system. It has problems telling the difference between harmless proteins and disease causing germs. Your immune system is constantly battling enemies that don’t exist. So make sure your immune system is ready when the bad guys do show up. If these sound like the things your Mom would tell you to do, then Mom was right.
- Get plenty of sleep (without the dog) and plenty means 6 to 8 hours.
- Drink plenty of water. In addition to tea, coffee, or juice you need water!
- Get the right nutrition (or add supplements when necessary).
- Use a neti pot or nasal irrigation device to rinse away allergens from the inside of your nose. Only use sterile saline solution; and always clean the irrigator afterwards.
#15 Ask your doctor about Immunotherapy
When I was a child I was allergic to everything from dogs and cats to peanuts. When I was about six I started Immunotherapy (although in those days they were simply called allergy shots). At first I got shots every few days, then it went to once a week, once a month and after a few years it was no longer necessary. Although it is a time commitment as the shots go on for years, it was the best thing I could have ever done for my severe allergies. It enabled me to live a normal life, mostly allergy free. While I still can’t eat peanuts, I have been a dog owner my entire life, and I do anything and everything any healthy non-allergy prone person would do. One caveat: since this treatment is not immediate, you will still need to practice many of the treatments in this article if you want to live sneeze-free with your dog.
Borrowing language from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology, “Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment that decreases symptoms for many people with allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma, conjunctivitis (eye allergy) or stinging insect allergy. Allergy shots decrease sensitivity to allergens and often leads to lasting relief of allergy symptoms even after treatment is stopped. This makes it a cost-effective, beneficial treatment approach for many people.”
All you need to do is make an appointment with an allergist, and he or she will guide you through the process. This is a very common and affordable treatment.
#16 Hand Washing Removes More than Dirt and Germs
Here’s another time that Mom was right. Since you will be washing frequently, you want to make sure that you don’t dry out your own skin or expose yourself to any harmful chemicals in the hand washing process. So use a gentle soap. Keep in mind that pesky protein that causes your symptoms and wash after every contact. This means:
- Wash you hands after playing, grooming, or socializing with your dog.
- Wash your hands after touching the dog’s toys or bedding.
- Use gentle fragrance-free hand soap like the one by Grab Green..
#17 Play Outside to Avoid Spreading Allergens Inside
When weather permits, it is best to play with your dog outside. If you have carpet, roughhousing with your dog on the floor only stirs up more allergen. Dog toys are full of allergen. Playing indoors makes the allergen become airborne in the house.
- Playing outside is a great way for you and your dog to get more exercise than you will from most indoor play.
- Playing outside can pick up pollen. If you have seasonal allergies, play inside when pollen counts are high.
That doesn’t mean you can’t ever play inside again, it does mean to be conscious of what you are doing.
#18 Neutralize Allergens with Denaturing Agents
What? Denaturing is the process by which the amino acids that make up proteins are restructured. If you’ve ever dropped a raw egg on a hot griddle and watched the white go from clear to opaque you’ve seen a protein being denatured. In addition to heat, alkaline and acid substances will denature proteins as well. There are denaturing sprays and liquids on the market. You won’t find them in the grocery store, but specialty stores like The Allergy Store and National Allergy Supply will carry them, usually as “allergy control” sprays. While no vet would recommend tossing your beloved pet on the hot griddle, but they have been recommending the denaturing agent Allerpet for Dogs for years.
- Use Allerpet weekly when you brush your dog to neutralize proteins and condition your dog’s coat as well. It will reduce the allergy load in your home and your dog’s coat will look and feel better too!
- Use denaturing sprays liberally on surfaces you can’t wash. Spray upholstered furniture, carpeting, duvet covers, and rugs you can’t wash. It will neutralize allergens. It’s not as effective as washing, but its perfect for items you can’t wash.
- Avoid tannic-acid based products because they can stain. Read the label before you buy.
#19 Dilute Allergens by Giving Your Dog a Drink
When your dog is not properly hydrated, the proteins in the saliva are concentrated. That means every dose is more concentrated. That means more allergen. Every pet owner knows to offer water. But most of them don’t know that this one simple step will help with pet allergies.
- Keep a source of clean, fresh water available at all times.
- Drop ice cubes in the bowl to keep water cool
- Wash water bowls frequently
#20 Seat Covers Help You Breathe Easy When You Travel With Your Pet
Bet you never thought of your car as a place that dog allergens can collect. But it is. If your dog rides in the car, you need to reduce your allergen exposure there as well. Dog allergen can be blown about by the AC or an open window and stick to the headliner, flooring, and doors.
- Install washable car seat covers on at least one seat in the car and designate that as the dog’s seat. Your dog will ride in comfort, and you will be comfortable knowing you can simply remove the car seat cover, toss it in the wash and get rid of the dog allergen.
- If you and your precious take a long car trip, wash your dog before the trip and don’t forget to vacuum the car thoroughly when you return. The cleaning will reduce the allergens. Besides, you need to clean out those snack crumbs anyway.
Any pet is a commitment of time and money. If you have pet allergies, it’s an even bigger commitment. If you are willing to put in the extra effort, it is possible to live comfortably with your pet and your pet allergies. Your fur baby will love you for it.
If you have have any other tips or remedies that you use to help your pet allergies, please list them in the