People that experience allergic reactions to dogs are not responding to the hair of the dog, but instead to the dander (small pieces of skin that are shed along with the dogs’ hair) or a protein in the dog’s saliva, which gets on the dog hair when Fido grooms himself.
If you already know you have dog allergies, it’s not likely that you’ll be interested in adding a new canine pet to the household. Depending on the severity of your allergies, you may be able to live with one of the “hypo-allergenic” breeds of dog. With the increased popularity of poodle mix breeds (like golden-doodles), many people can successfully co-habit with an allergy-friendly dog, even if they dislike poodles.
On the other hand, maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to develop allergies only after Spot has made his place in the home a permanent one.
There are a few steps you can take to limit your exposure to the allergens.
1. The Blame Game
Make an appointment with your doctor to have allergy testing done, so that you can make sure it’s your dog, and not something else. If your allergic reactions end up having a different cause, you may be able to treat, or avoid, the actual offender, without having to start lobbying for a new home for Lassie.
2. Keep Off
Don’t let your dog have a place on any fabric-covered furniture, or in your (or the allergic person’s) bedroom — especially keep them off the bed. By keeping the dog off the furniture, you limit the allergic person’s contact with the hair, dander and saliva of your dog.
3. Suck it Up
Buy (and use) a vacuum cleaner made to collect dog hair and dander, pollen and dust. Many vacuums simply send most of the allergens they collect right back in to the air. Also, while a bagless vacuum may seem cool, there’s a greater chance of the allergens escaping when it’s time to dump the containers contents into the trash. If you must use a bagless, consider emptying it while outside.
4. Do it Outside
All of your dog’s grooming, (brushing, combing, trimming, clipping) should be done out of doors. If you have significant allergic reactions, and the winter is too cold, consider taking Fido to the groomer’s.
5. Squeaky Clean
Make sure your dog’s bedding is cleaned regularly — at least once a week. Having machine-washable bedding will make it much easier. Plan to shampoo your dog at least once a week as well. Frequent shampooing cleans their hair of allergens, and, just like when you wash your own hair, cleans the scalp of dander.
6. Trim it Good
Don’t exacerbate the situation by letting your dog’s hair grow long. If you have a long-hair dog, trim it short anyway. Your groomer can do it without making Spot look dumb. Long or dense hair can trap allergens, making allergic reactions worse.