Dog Allergies

For clarity’s sake, this article is for people who suffer from allergies to dogs, not for dogs that suffer from allergies. That isn’t to say that dogs with allergies aren’t important. They’re just not the focus here, and regardless of the dog’s health, they are the cause of the allergies being discussed. And really, without people, there wouldn’t be domestic dogs to begin with. So if you have dog allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, scratchy throat, stuffy nose, or coughing—there are some things you can do about it – preferably before you get rid of the dog.

The best news is that you don’t necessarily have to live a dog-free life. Sadly, some people have allergies too severe for natural allergy remedies to help. In that case, if those people are really determined to get a dog, they should consult a doctor or allergy specialist. Some long-term allergy treatments are available. The rest of us dog allergy-sufferers can typically get by with the following information.

Common Allergy Symptoms

Mild allergies typically cause the same set of symptoms.

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Skin redness/rashes

While it never hurts to consult your doctor, if your allergy symptoms get worse than this, or involve difficulty breathing or swelling of the tongue or mouth, get medical treatment immediately.

Best Ways to Treat Dog Allergies

Truly hypoallergenic dogs breeds don’t exist, but some dog breeds are easier on allergies than others.

“Hypoallergenic dog breed” only means “slightly less allergic.” For people with the most severe allergies, this may still mean that dogs are a no-go. But for others, slightly less allergic can mean the difference between living miserably and living happily. Some good dog breeds to consider include the Portuguese Water Dog, Havanese terrier. Poodles, standard or toy, are excellent breeds for allergy-sufferers. This is also true of most poodle mixes, such as labradoodles or schnoodles. Other breeds include the Coton de Tulear, the Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese, Puli, and the Basenji.

Groom your dog regularly to get rid of dog allergies.

Since you’re likely the one with allergies, I recommend a professional dog groomer. Professional, local dog groomers are available in almost any town. Generally, dog grooming costs are relatively inexpensive. I can get my dog groomed for under fifty dollars. That full-service grooming fee includes a bath, haircut, dry, whisker trim, toe nail trim, ear cleaning, and anal gland squeeze. If you want to groom your dog at home, a good wash with a quality dog shampoo (like Pet Wash from OxGord, sold at Amazon), a brush, dry, and hair trim should be all you need to reduce dog danger and dog allergens in the home.

Restrict where your dog goes to get rid of dog dander where it can affect you most.

There are limits to where dogs should go when indoors. First, keep the dogs out of the bedroom at all times. Second, keep the dogs off of couches (and other fabric furniture). Third, if possible, keep dogs off of carpets. Restricting dogs to easy-to-clean areas will prevent that hair and dander buildup where you lay your face to relax. Set up “dog only” areas for furniture, beds, and bedding. Then don’t go to those places. Avoidance here is definitely a workable solution.

Keep your house clean to help get rid of dog allergy symptoms.

Clean everything. Carpets, drapes, blinds, blankets, sheets, heat registers, windowsills, couches, end tables, dresser drawers. Every surface in your house should be kept clean. Dust, hairballs, and any collection of grit and grime can harbor allergens. Pay close attention to carpeting, fabrics, and fibers. The general effectiveness of HEPA filters on allergens is debatable. If you’ve got the money to spend, go for it. Get them for your vacuum cleaner, and use your vacuum cleaner every day. When you clean, separate areas as “dog areas” and “non-dog areas.” Clean the non-dog areas first to avoid spreading dogginess.

To help get rid of dog allergy symptoms, take over-the-counter antihistamines.

There are lots of over-the-counter allergy symptom medications available. Some are drowsy, some are non-drowsy. They come in increments of four hours, six hours, twelve hours, and twenty-four hours. There are decongestants (nose un-stuffers) and non-decongestants. My personal favorite is Target brand, 12-hour, non-drowsy, non-decongestant for everyday use. The magic word you’re looking for, no matter what brand, is Loratadine. Pseudoephedrine is what you’re looking for if you want an un-stuffed nose. A combination of the two is excellent for those really bad days, but it kinda dries you out during daily use.

Non-Prescription Allergy Treatments

Claritin. Once a prescription drug, Claritin can now be purchased over-the-counter at just about any drug store or pharmacy. Relatively inexpensive, low in side-effects, and extremely effective, this medication is something to keep stocked in the medicine cabinet and on-hand during any camping trip. Choose 12 or 24 hour, decongestant or without.

Zyrtec. The active ingredient (Cetirizine HCl) is different than that of Claritin (Loratadine). Similar to Claritin, though, Zyrtec was once a prescription but now is available over-the-counter. What’s fabulous about Zyrtec is that it doesn’t cause the same kind of drowsiness that is a common side effect for other antihistamines. This way you can stand to be around your dog AND stay awake to play fetch.

NeilMed Sinus Rinse. Saline, though natural, feels really weird being squirted into your nose and draining down the back of your throat. That said, it’s a wonderful relief for anyone experiencing upper-respiratory allergy symptoms: stuffy, runny, or itchy nose, scratchy throat, etc. The kit is fairly inexpensive and contains the patented squirter bottle and many saline packets. Use it once and you’ll be running back to the bottle to help get rid of allergy symptoms. You can find it in a starter kit on Amazon, or in packages of tablets.

HEPA Filters

Some say yes. Some say no. I, personally, say yes. Okay, so it may be only psychological, but I swear that my HEPA filter (also known as a high efficiency particle air filter) in my air purifier does wonders during allergy season. Typically they are a bit more expensive than the non-HEPA filter. Generally speaking, HEPA filters supposedly work by using interception, impaction, and diffusion—very fancy stuff. In layman’s terms, the HEPA filters, unlike non-HEPA filters, can trap pollutants and particles as small as common allergens such as the dust mite. Obviously, reducing allergens will make a dog allergy sufferer much happier. Just be sure to avoid HEPA-type filters. Only go with true-HEPA or sealed-HEPA. They are far more dense (and efficient at filtering small particles) than HEPA-type filters.

Visit our Facebook Page to discuss this article!

About the Author

Erin Eliason

Erin Eliason