Approximately one-third to one-half of American households own dogs. With nearly a fifth of people suffering from pet allergies, it’s hardly unexpected that many dog owners are actually allergic to their pets.
Surprisingly, many people who have never had a problem with pet allergies suddenly seem to develop dog allergies after owning their dog for years!
Do you think this has happened to you? The bad news is that this is possible, but the good news is that you don’t have to sit by while your sinuses suffer.
Read on to learn about adult-onset dog allergies, and what you can do about them.
Can you develop dog allergies later in life?
Have you been sneezing more lately? Or have your eyes recently been getting puffy when you snuggle your dog?
You may be wondering if you have unexpectedly developed late-onset dog allergies. Is that even possible?
If you lurk around the internet long enough, you’ll find that plenty of people have this same question.
Can you develop dog allergies later in life? Unfortunately, the answer is “yes.”
According to both experience and research, it is not only possible, but also somewhat common to develop allergies as an adult. And you thought you were safe from the wheezing and the sneezing.
Before we talk about adult-onset dog allergies, however, let’s address the fact that you may not actually be allergic to your dog.
If the seasons have recently changed, you may actually be responding to an outdoor allergen.
Pet allergies and environmental allergies have the same symptoms as pet allergies, including a runny nose, sneezing, and watery eyes.
Even if the allergies seem to be connected to your pet, your pet’s dander might not be the culprit. Rather, your furry friend may be bringing nature to you.
When your pet spends any time at all outdoors, they may be trapping pollens and other allergens in their coat and bringing them straight to your tortured nasal passages.
If this is the case, you don’t have to worry about taking care of pet allergies—just environmental allergies.
It may be difficult to figure out which you are allergic to unless you have your doctor perform an allergen test.
How do allergies develop?
Allergies are a result of your body’s attempt to keep your from contracting a deadly disease—thanks a lot, immune system.
When your body comes into contact with pet dander, for example, it should recognize it as a harmless foreign body and keep hunting for pathogens.
However, many peoples’ immune systems mistake pet dander as a threat and attack it the way it would attack the Polio virus.
That’s why suffering from allergies feels a lot like being sick. Your body is responding to the allergen the same way it responds to viral or bacterial infections.
Some scientists have suggested that allergies are a result of inactive immune systems, thanks to the overly-clean and sanitized environments that many of us live in.
In other words, your immune system gets bored as it’s got nothing to do, so it looks for something to attack. In this instance, pet dander just may be the closest candidate.
According to this theory, contracting a parasite might cure your allergies. But don’t start eating dirt quite yet!
The good news is that there are actually quite a lot of ways you can relieve your pet allergies and still keep your pet.
What to do if you develop dog allergies later in life?
If you do develop a dog allergy later in life, well-meaning friends and even your doctor may suggest that you find Fido a new home. But we both know you are never going to do that!
Although it’s the only way to remove the source of the allergen, you don’t have to get rid of your dog to find relief.
You will never get pet dander completely out of your home. The National Institute of Health estimates that every home in the United States has some pet dander in it. Since the stuff is sticky and tends to find its way pretty much anywhere, this isn’t surprising.
While you won’t get rid of it, there are several things you can do to reduce the amount of pet hair in your home.
Reduce the Dander your Pet is Shedding
First, you can try to reduce the amount of dander your pet actually sheds. One way to do this is by bathing your dog every week and washing excess dander down the drain. Another way is to keep your dog’s skin moisturized.
Dry skin means more skin shedding, thus more dander. Feeding your dog high-quality food and using moisturizing products can keep Fido’s skin healthy and supple.
Reduce the Dander in the House
Secondly, you can control the dander already within your home. To do this, you’ll need to keep things clean. Limit dust-gathering decorations or clutter in your home to avoid trapping pet dander in your home.
You should also vacuum frequently to keep as much dander out of your carpet as possible.
An air filter that purifies your air will help trap a lot of the airborne dander. This will save your poor runny nose from breathing in so many allergens.
Another helpful strategy is to keep you dog-snuggling clothes and your everyday clothes separate. That way, you don’t wear allergens all day long.
Reduce Allergens in the House
Finally, restrict the dog’s exposure to the house. If you can, ease your dog into living outside full-time. This will make a huge difference for your allergies.
If you live in an apartment or an environment where dogs can’t live outside, limit your dog’s domain. You could keep her out of your bedroom, or train her to stay off all carpeted areas.
Of course, environment control isn’t the only thing you can do to help yourself. Make an appointment with your primary care doctor or allergist to get an allergy test and prescription.
There are many allergy medicines available (such as Zyrtec or Benadryl), and your doctor can help you find the one that works best for you.
You can take hold of your situation by controlling both allergens and your allergies!
While it’s definitely frustrating to learn that you’ve suddenly developed an allergy to your best friend, you don’t have to resign yourself to a lifetime of sniffles. Love your life and your pet—at the same time!