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Tips on managing an allergy to your own pet?

February 21st, 2007, 12:34 PM
I've been in denial about this for ages but I strongly suspect that I'm allergic to our 7 year old Shiba Inu/German shepherd cross, Raven, that we adopted from our local shelter 6 months ago. The first few days after we brought her home I broke out in some hives and I was so worried but thankfully didn't experience any after that. Unfortunately, my atopic eczema (something I've had since I was a teenager) has steadily become worse since she came home with us and I'm fairly positive that it's related to her. The skin on my face is always inflamed and rashy and the dry winter air isn't making matters better. :rolleyes:

I have a lot of food and inhalant allergies and have always tested positive to dog dander on skin tests but have never had an issue with our 10 year old Aussie Cattle Dog/Staffordshire Terrier, Rusty nor any of the short coated hound mixes I grew up with. Raven is the first double coated dog I've had and sheds much more than Rusty so I can only guess that this is why I'm having an unusual allergic response to her. :shrug:

Rehoming Raven is not an option for us because we love her dearly and can't imagine our lives without her. I'm posting because I'm curious if anyone else has an allergy to the dogs they share their lives with and how you keep your allergic reactions to a minimum? Allergy shots? Antihistamines? Bathing your dog frequently? Special shampoos? Using pet wipes in-between bathings to reduce dander? Supplementing your dog's diet with special oils to keep skin skin shedding to a minimum?

I'm also curious if anyone has slowly become desensitized to their pet over time? I've heard that this is the case for many people.

Any tips on managing an allergy to a pet would be MUCHLY appreciated. Thanks! :D

February 21st, 2007, 03:37 PM
At one point I thought I was allergic to my cats, but it eventually turned out that it was mold in the ceiling of my apartment. But, I did everything possible to control my allergies. Here are some ideas:

1. The best thing is to by a Hepa air purifier. They aren't that expensive (<$100 I think) and you should get one for the rooms that you and your dog are in together (ie. the living room/ family room, etc). They really really help keep the allergens out of the air.

2. Keep your dog away from where you sleep- basically he cannot be allowed in your bedroom anymore. Wash all your bedding, vacuum your mattress, wash down the walls/ floors/ furniture and clean the carpets. You can keep a small air purifier by the bed as well.

3. Get someone to brush your dog daily (or even vacuum him if he tolerates it), preferably outside of your home or in a room that is easy to clean (ie. no carpet).

4. Vacuum carpets daily or as frequently as possible and try to cover furniture with slipcovers so that you can wash it frequently (if your sofa and chairs aren't easily washable).

5. You can wipe down your dog weekly with a substance called Allerpet which will minimize the amount of dander on his skin. Bathe frequently, but not too much, as this is not good for your dog and can cause skin problems for him.

6. Wash your hands after you've pet him and change clothes if you've been cuddling with him :).

7. Try OTC allergy meds first, and if all this doesn't work then talk to your doctor about the shot.

I hope this helps! Chances are if you do these things you can minimize your allergies to the point where you don't even notice them anymore. Also, make sure there isn't any mold growing in your house (like a leaky basement) because it could be triggering your allergies, not your dog.

February 21st, 2007, 06:54 PM
Cram's ideas are great, here is some extra info on the bathing

When I was grooming, we had several clients with allergies, for the worst cases, we would bath every 2 weeks with a high quality oatmeal shampoo AND oatmeal conditioner (the oatmeal is gentle and moisturizing). With a double coated breed you have to be sure that you get all the way down to the skin, a sprayer is a must to me, and a curry comb can be of benefit also. Also, if you blow dry, do so just until you get him brushed out and on a low setting, then let him air dry, or just towel and air dry. You may want to start with every two weeks, and if/when you build up a resistance (this does happen for a lot of people) you can try spacing the baths out. Good luck!:thumbs up

February 21st, 2007, 07:44 PM
As we were growing up both my brother and sister had allergies to dogs. Fortunately for me I didn't develop them. My sister's allergies are not as bad as my brother's. Both of them now have dogs at home. My brother has a Schnauzer and my sister has both an Airedale and Yorkie. They have both told me that they have become desensitized to their own dogs. They will still have a reaction to other people's dogs but not their own.

February 21st, 2007, 07:52 PM
I have never experienced an allergy to dogs. But I am allergic to some cats. I always ask what the breed (if known) and the type of food they feed the cat. Generally the cats of my friends who vaccum/clean very frequently and feed a good quality diet are less of a problem. Maybe that is all in my head but maybe there is something to it? My optometrist recommended two precription eye drops as well. They are Patamol and Zaditor. I have yet to go to my doctor and ask for a precription but he said he uses them with success.

Good for you for not rehoming Raven! Hopefully you find a combination of things that are useful.

February 21st, 2007, 08:28 PM
All of the above and if you have a furnace in your home, use a 3M Filtrete filter with a minimum 1250 performance rating. Have someone vaccuum it twice a week and replace it every two months. In the summer, if you have central air that uses your furnace, continue having the filter vaccuumed.

I have a Shiba/Shepherd as well; I know about the shedding. Even though he's brushed daily for 30 minutes, we have to pass the Swiffer or vaccuum every day too. We use oatmeal shampoo/conditioner as well. It's works amazingly well to prevent his skin from drying out in the winter months.

February 22nd, 2007, 12:36 PM
I have pretty severe allergies and have developed allergies to my pets as well. So I actually developed it while having them and haven't become desensitized to it. Although the doctor told me that children that grow up with pets are more likely to be desensitized to allergic reactions. So perhaps that whole desensitized thing works on the young. Although I grew up with all sorts of pets and still developed allergies as an adult... :shrug:

But anyway, not having my babies is not an option for me. I have two daily allergy prescriptions, one is an oral pill and the other a steroid nasal spray, and together, they work very well for me. My doctor and I experimented with a few combinations of prescriptions to find what worked. On top of that, I do what the others suggested above. I am more allergic to my cat than my dog, so I no longer allow the cat in my bedroom and neither are allowed on my bed. I vacuum every day and use a good filter in the furnace and change it regularly. I also use an air purifier. I have a small plug in unit in my living room and another in my bedroom.

For me, my allergic reactions are the typical red, itchy eyes and stuffy nose. The two prescriptions I take manage these very well and I have no problems at all. My other reaction isn't quite as managed and is the same as yours. I too have eczema, something that I never had as a child. Luckily for me, it's only on my scalp and not on my body, so isn't "visible." But it is extremely painful. I manage it with another prescription, some sort of scalp oil I have to massage into my hair and scalp once a week and leave on overnight. But it doesn't entirely go away and stays itchy and if I miss a treatment, flares up very quickly. That's my biggest annoyance to deal with, but for me, it's worth it!

Good luck!!!