It is said that, “A dog is man’s best friend.” Except when it’s not. Ever since I can remember I have felt miserable being around dogs. I have always envied people who have a special bond with their dogs. Dogs are so cute and cuddly! Growing up some of my friends had dogs but I didn’t. I always wanted one too.
It wasn’t until a few years ago when I had allergy testing done that I found out that I am allergic to dogs (cue Beethoven’s 5th). When I spend time around dogs I feel itchy all over. My skin gets red and blotchy. I cough, sneeze, get a stuffy and/or runny nose, and my eyes get red and watery. It isn’t a life threatening allergy like some food allergies can be, but it makes me very miserable.
I totally get how pet owners see their pets as part of their family and sometimes I have to decline playdates and gatherings because of other people’s pets. It’s difficult being allergic to dogs when 37%-47% of American’s own one. I usually feel guilty and sometimes I go to anyway, then I feel upset with myself again when my nose gets stuffy and I start feeling miserable. Afterwards, I usually have to go home and take a shower and use my Neti Pot. It is truly a lifesaver in every sense of the word (A Neti Pot should not be shared, kind of like a toothbrush. You should use distilled or boiled water in the pot to do your nasal rinse.).
How to determine if your child has a pet allergy
Many children, like adults, have pet allergies. So how do you know if your child has one? The main symptoms of pet allergies are: runny/stuffy noses, itching, red/itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, and wheezing. If you have a pet, or if you have been around an animal, and your child has these symptoms, you should take them to see their pediatrician. Their pediatrician may recommend an allergist (an allergist is a doctor who specializes in allergies and asthma). The allergist will perform either a skin or a blood test to determine if your child does indeed have a pet allergy.
People are usually allergic to the dander (flakes of dead skin) or saliva of an animal. There are hypoallergenic breeds of dogs BUT please be aware that no cat or dog is completely 100% hypoallergenic. I know for me, I still feel a little miserable after being around those dogs. A few hypoallergenic dogs are: Bichon Frise, Maltese, Poodle, Bedlington Terrier, Irish Water Spaniel, Portuguese Water Dog, Standard Schnauzer and Giant Schnauzer.
A few hypoallergenic cat breeds are: Siberian, Burmese, Bengal, Siamese, Sphynx, Cornish Rex, Devon Rex and Balinese.
Tips to help your child deal with a pet allergy
Allergies can make us downright miserable. As a mom, I hate to see my children sick and not feeling well. It’s the same way with allergies. So, what can you do to help alleviate that misery for your child(ren)?
The best advice I can give is to avoid going places where you know that animal will be present. I have a friend who’s son is extremely allergic to cats. Instead of going to someone’s house where they have a cat, her friends go to her for playdates. It’s better for her son and her friends understand that.
If you do choose to go somewhere you know a dog, cat, or other animal your child is allergic to will be present, be prepared. When I know I’ll be going to a friends house who has a dog, I make sure to take allergy medicine beforehand. It’s important to give your child the medicine at least an hour before in order to let the medicine get into their system and start working.
Pet allergies can be hard but thankfully, there are ways to deal with them.