Although having a dog companion around may lift your spirits and prevent you from feeling isolated and lonely, approximately 15% of Americans are allergic to dogs and cats and need to stay away. Just because you want a dog doesn't necessarily mean that your body will accept your new companion. This doesn't mean that all hope is lost. If you suspect or know that you are allergic to your new dog or puppy, building permanent immunity through allergy shots may be an option to consider. While allergy symptoms may improve almost immediately, it may take getting 6 to 12 months of maintenance doses before significant improvements are experienced. Until then, you still might experience minor symptoms. While waiting for this to happen, here are three things you can do to further manage your allergy symptoms.
Keep Dogs out of the Bedroom
While you might be tempted to let your new furry companion follow you wherever you go, it's important to set boundaries until you see significant improvements. You don't want to be exposed to the allergens for prolonged periods of time, especially when you are sleeping, as your body needs some time to recover from the allergy symptoms. Keep your dogs out of the bedroom, as it is easy for their saliva and fur to end up everywhere.
In general, you should try keeping your dogs outside for as much time as possible. When letting your dogs indoors, try to keep them in rooms with hardwood floors. It is much easier to clean up dog fur and saliva from hardwood floors than carpeted floors. Dog fur and saliva can easily get lodged within carpet fibers.
Wash Your Hands Frequently and Limit Overall Amount of Exposure
Before you develop immunity to the allergens, limit the amount of time you are exposed to the allergens as much as possible. This means that you should wash your hands as frequently as possible, especially after playing with your dogs or petting them. It's easy for the dog fur to come in contact with other household items or body parts if you don't. Since you don't develop immunity immediately from the allergy shots, you should still expect to experience some allergy symptoms like a runny nose, itchiness, or even puffy eyes.
Exposing yourself to too many allergens can kick your immune system into overdrive. This might affect the effectiveness of the allergy shots in the long run.
Choose a Hypoallergenic Dog and Get Dog Fur and Saliva Tested
If you haven't picked a dog yet, most allergy specialists recommend choosing a hypoallergenic dog to help manage your symptoms. While allergy shots are highly effective, there's still room for error; your body might still be susceptible when exposed to allergens in high doses. Hypoallergenic dogs tend to not shed any fur. This helps keep your environment free of allergens.
In addition, if you want to know just how severe your allergies to specific breeds of dogs are, you can ask your allergy specialist to conduct an allergy test using the fur and saliva collected from the dogs you're interested in. Your body might respond more negatively or strongly to certain breeds than others.
Thanks to advancements in medical technology, you don't have to let your allergies stop you from becoming a dog owner and enjoying the companionship that a furry friend can offer. However, speak to an allergy specialist before making any rash decisions. An allergy specialist can determine just how severe your allergies are and also create a practical treatment plan that will help you develop a permanent immunity to the allergens that come from owning a dog.