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National Dog Day is an annual celebration encouraging dog ownership of all breeds. However, studies show that a whopping 15 percent of the population is allergic to pets — including dogs. One study revealed that even if advised to give up their dog by a doctor, only one of five people did (who even is that one person?). But if you’re like most pet lovers who would never consider saying goodbye to their best friend, we’ve got you covered with tips for controlling dog allergies.
How to Manage Dog Allergies
An allergic response is your body overreacting to harmless allergens. You may be able to control your symptoms with the following:
1. Establish Dog-Free Zones
Consider creating safe havens for allergy sufferers, which work by keeping your dog out of one or more areas in your home. Most doctors recommend making the bedroom a pet-free zone because it’s likely where you would spend most of your time. Whenever your allergies attack, you can simply enter your allergen-free space for some reprieve.
2. Bathe Your Dog Once a Week
Noticed how soft your dog’s fur is after a bath? That’s because the dirt and grime have been washed away, along with the allergens. Routine bathing removes dead skin flakes or dander from your furry friend’s skin, reducing allergens by up to 84 percent.
Most veterinarians recommend weekly baths. Still, consult your dog’s personal vet to identify what’s best for the both of you. There are also many shampoos and wipes designed to reduce dog allergens.
3. Get Rid of Carpets and Drapes
Carpets and curtains have long been perceived as enemies when it comes to allergies. This is because allergens find it easier to attach themselves to cloth.
To ensure your home is as allergen-free as possible:
- Replace carpets with hardwood or laminate flooring, and replace curtains with shutters or blinds.
- Opt for leather sofas, or cover your fabric couches with plastic to prevent allergens from sticking.
If removing your carpet is out of the question, regular vacuuming can stop allergens from accumulating. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which removes 99.97 percent of all small particles. Then, make sure to empty it outside to prevent any trapped allergens from spreading in your home. Also, since switching from drapes to blinds and fabric to leather can get expensive, you can also consider getting professional deep-cleaning services twice a year.
4. Take Medication
Decongestants — including over-the-counter versions like Zyrtec and Claritin, as well as antihistamines — can help you cope with dog allergies. If medications cannot manage your symptoms, your doctor may recommend advancing to anti-histamine or full-on corticosteroids. Though, take note that prolonged steroid use can cause adverse side effects.
5. Train Your Dog to Do His or Her Business Outside
Did you know pets release allergens through their urine, too? Those stubborn allergens stick around long after the urine dries and can spread through the air. As such, make sure to potty train your dog.
You don’t have to spend your life with a clogged nose to experience the joys of pet parenthood. As long as you follow these tips and get additional input from your doctor and vet, you and your beloved dog can coexist happily.