- Dog Allergies
- When Do Pet Allergies Show Up in Babies?
- How To Tell If Baby Is Allergic To Dogs?
- Final Thoughts
- 7 Tips to Manage Your Child’s Pet Allergy
- Strategies to Reduce Pet Allergies
- Helping Your Child with Pet Allergies Live with a Dog or Cat
- Your Environment and Dog Allergies
The only surefire way to get rid of a pet allergy is to remove the pet from your home. There are, however, ways to minimize your exposure to allergens and lessen your symptoms if you don’t want to part with Fluffy.
Here are some medications and treatments that can help you manage allergies and asthma:
- Antihistamines are over-the-counter (OTC) medications such as Benadryl, Claritin, Allegra, and Clarinex OTC that can help relieve itching, sneezing, and runny nose.
- Nasal corticosteroids such as Flonase (now available over the counter) or Nasonex may reduce inflammation and control symptoms.
- Cromolyn sodium is an OTC nasal spray that may help reduce symptoms, especially if it’s used before they develop.
- Decongestants make it easier to breathe by shrinking swollen tissues in the nasal passage. These are available in oral form or as a nasal spray.
- Allergy shots (immunotherapy) expose you to the animal protein (allergen) that’s causing the reaction and help your body become less sensitive, reducing symptoms. Shots are given by an allergist and are often used in more severe cases for long-term treatment.
- Leukotriene modifiers, such as the prescription tablet montelukast (Singulair), may be recommended if you can’t tolerate nasal antihistamines or corticosteroids.
Some people with dog allergies may find that a saline (salt water) rinse daily to clear nasal passages of allergens can help. A “nasal lavage” can control symptoms such as congestion and postnasal drip.
OTC saline sprays and nasal lavage kits are readily available. You can also make your own by mixing 1/8 teaspoon of table salt with distilled water.
There are several things dog owners can do around the home to reduce allergens. They include:
- setting up dog-free zones (certain rooms, such as a bedroom, where the dog is not allowed)
- bathing the dog weekly using a pet-friendly shampoo (done by a non-allergic person)
- removing carpeting, upholstered furniture, horizontal blinds, curtains, and any other items that may attract dander
- using high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) purifiers to reduce airborne allergens in the home
- keeping the dog outside (only in certain climates in a well-contained area and under humane conditions)
- looking into hypoallergenic dog breeds
- using a trial period when introducing a new pet to the family to assess family members’ reactions to the new dog
Rover and Fluffy are unlikely to raise kids’ risk of developing pet allergies, and could lower them, according to a new 18-year-long study.
The results showed that, for most of the childhood years, being exposed to a dog or cat had little effect on later allergies. However, exposure lowered the risk for some children if they were exposed to a pet during their first year of life.
Researchers studied 565 18-year-olds who had been followed from birth. They found that only during the first year of life did exposure to dogs and cats have a major effect on later sensitivity to the animal (someone who is sensitized to an animal will likely have symptoms of an allergy when exposed to it).
“We think this is a critical window,” said study author Ganesa Wegienka, an epidemiologist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit.
Expectant mothers were recruited between 1987 and 1989 from the Detroit metro area as part of the Detroit Childhood Allergy Study, and it was their children who took part. Researchers used annual interviews to determine dog and cat exposure.
Most children with pets in the home during their first year of life had a reduced risk of allergies. Both boys and girls with a cat at home during this time had about half the risk of being sensitized to cats later on in life, and boys with a dog at home during this time had half the risk of being sensitized to dogs later on.
Girls with a dog at home during their first year had an increased risk of later being sensitized.
“I thought it was a well-designed study, it was a thorough analysis,” said Dr. Tolly Epstein, an assistant professor of immunology at the University of Cincinnati. “I don’t think that it answers all of our questions about pet ownership, but I think they present some important findings,” said Epstein, who has researched the effect of pet exposure on allergy development but was not involved with this study.
A number of studies in recent years have looked at the effect of early exposure to cats and dogs on allergies. The results have been conflicting — some have shown a benefit from having a pet, while others have shown it may make children more allergy-prone.
Epstein published a study in 2010 that found that early exposure to dogs did not seem to put children at risk for allergic reactions later on, although that was not the case with cats.
Wegienka said a major barrier to understanding the effect of pets on allergies is practicality.
“Realistically, you cannot do a randomized control trial because it would not be ethical (or reasonable) to randomly allocate pet keeping,” she told MyHealthNewsDaily.
But, she added, it now seems that researchers should further study the first year of life.
C-Sections, pets and allergies
Another observation places that first year further under scrutiny.
The study authors noted that babies born by Caesarian section seemed to benefit more from having a pet around – they had only one-third of the risk with a dog, and only seventy percent of the risk with a cat of developing allergies to the animal. The authors said that a possible explanation for this is that traveling through the birth canal may expose infants to more bacteria, so babies who do not do this may gain more of their microbes from household exposure.
While evidence has been conflicting, there does not seem to be a strong reason to keep a pet out of the home because of allergy concerns.
“There have been multiple studies showing that dog ownership early in life may have a protective effect,” Epstein said. “I think further study is needed.”
This story was provided by MyHealthNewsDaily, sister site to LiveScience. Follow MyHealthNewsDaily on Twitter @MyHealth_MHND.
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When you bring a baby into the household, you might be worried about how they’ll get along with your pets. One big concern is potential allergic reactions.
Allergies occur when your child’s immune system reacts to animal dander, feces, urine, or saliva.
When the immune system comes into contact with these things, it reacts by releasing histamine and other chemicals. Histamine causes inflammation of the nose and airways.
When Do Pet Allergies Show Up in Babies?
Many concerned parents want to know: When do babies develop allergies to pets?
The length of time an allergy takes to develop can vary. When you first get a pet, your child might not have an allergic reaction immediately.
In many cases, the child must be exposed to the allergen for several months before they develop symptoms.
Babies are more likely to develop a pet allergy if you or your partner is prone to allergies. Even if you don’t have pet allergies, this genetic predisposition can manifest differently in your child.
If you’re thinking about getting a pet, but you’re not sure if your baby is allergy-prone or not, you should wait until they’re about 6 years old.
The symptoms of allergies tend to manifest less severely in older children.
How To Tell If Baby Is Allergic To Dogs?
When a baby has an allergic reaction to dog dander, the immune system releases histamines into their bloodstream.
This causes the accumulation of mucus in the nasal passages. If your infant is dealing with nasal drainage without any fever, it might be a symptom of dog allergies.
Nasal congestion is caused by too much mucus accumulating thanks to the inflammatory action of the histamines. An infant doesn’t even need to touch a dog to develop these nasal symptoms.
Another symptom caused by the histamines in the blood is sneezing. If you notice that your baby sneezes only after coming into contact with dogs, this might be a sign of an allergy.
Sneezing might continue after the dog is removed from the home, since indoor environments can house dog dander for months after the dog leaves.
A baby’s mucous membranes might start to itch before any other symptoms appear. If a parent notices their baby is repeatedly rubbing their nose, some kind of allergy might be the cause.
Another sign of allergies is excessive eye rubbing. Histamines cause the eyes to itch, which then causes the child to rub their eyes.
This can sometimes be a vicious cycle, as allergens might already be on the hands if the child has been interacting with the dog.
Babies have soft and sensitive skin. When an infant comes into direct contact with the dog, their skin might develop a rash.
These rashes may develop in places the child has touched the dog. They tend to be red and itchy, and they may include raised bumps
It’s very possible for a baby to develop dog allergies. Parents should be concerned if they have a predisposition to allergies themselves.
The overactive immune system can wreak havoc on your child’s sinuses and skin.
If your child has a pet allergy, you’ll probably need to find a new home for that pet. However, if the baby is particularly attached to the dog, treatments by an allergist might help.
7 Tips to Manage Your Child’s Pet Allergy
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It can be terribly upsetting to learn that your child is allergic to your family pet — but it’s not uncommon. Up to 30 percent of people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the pets’ hair that makes a child sneeze and wheeze. It’s the proteins found in their urine, saliva, or pet dander, according to the AAFA. The proteins can stick to surfaces of walls, furniture, and clothing and stay there, at full strength, for a long time. A pet also can bring other allergens, such as pollen, into your home.
“The first rule of allergies is, if you’re allergic to something, stay away from it,” says Mark Holbreich, MD, an allergist and immunologist with Allergy and Asthma Consultants in Indianapolis. When it’s your pet, though, that’s hard to do. But if the allergies are severe, says the American Academy of Pediatrics, you may have to find your pet a new home.
Symptoms of children’s pet allergies include a stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes, and wheezing. Some people can have an asthma attack if their allergies flare, the AAFA says. If your child experiences these symptoms after coming in contact with your dog or cat, have your child tested.
“Testing is very important,” says Mervat Nassef, MD, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at NewYork-Presbyterian in New York City. If you might have to give up your pet, you want to be sure that your child isn’t allergic to something else. “Other allergies can give you similar symptoms,” Dr. Nassef says.
It’s also important to note that some animals may be more allergy-friendly than others. However, there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat or dog, according to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology. “Small dogs that don’t shed produce less dander, but your child still can be allergic to them,” Dr. Holbreich says.
Strategies to Reduce Pet Allergies
If your child’s allergies aren’t too severe, you may be able to take some steps to reduce your child’s symptoms and keep your pet. For instance:
Keep pets out of the bedroom. Make your child’s room a pet-free zone and be sure to keep it clean. To keep the room pet dander- and pollen-free, install a high-efficiency air filter and air purifier. Remember to change the filters frequently.
Cover your child’s bed with extra protection. You can buy dust mite covers for your child’s pillow, blanket, and mattress. This will also help keep out dust mites, another potential allergy trigger, in addition to allergens like pet dander.
Go for hard surfaces. Where you can, replace upholstered surfaces with non-fabric or easily washable materials. Pet dander sticks to upholstery, drapes, curtains, and carpeting more easily than it does to surfaces such as wood, vinyl, or tile. Plus, the latter are easier to clean. For this reason, you also shouldn’t let your allergic child sleep with stuffed animals, Dr. Nassef adds. If you must have carpet in your child’s bedroom or elsewhere in your home, select a low-pile one and have it steam-cleaned regularly.
Bathe your pet weekly. Weekly baths can significantly reduce the amount of allergy-causing dander your pet sheds. If possible, ask a non-allergic member of your household to bathe the pet and be sure to wash that person’s clothes afterward. Wearing gloves may also help. Ask your veterinarian to recommend the best soaps and shampoos. Caution: Bathing too frequently can have the opposite effect. It can dry your pet’s skin and cause the animal to shed more dander.
Teach your child to wash his hands with soap and water after touching the pet. Washing helps prevent the spread of allergens to your child’s nose, eyes, and mouth — which is especially important if your child gets a rash from having been licked by your pet, Nassef says.
Talk to your allergist about treatment. “Medications work for allergy symptoms regardless of the trigger — pollen, pet dander, etc.,” Nassef says. “But not all medications work equally well for all symptoms.” That’s why it’s important to work with your doctor and tailor your child’s allergy medications to his or her symptoms.
Consult your veterinarian. Your veterinarian can recommend a diet for your pet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals, which can help your pet’s skin retain its moisture and not shed as much. Like people, pets can benefit from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, according to the Partnership for Animal Welfare in Greenbelt, Maryland.
Every family has to decide for themselves whether they can manage their children’s pet allergies with a cat or dog, Nassef says. “The best solution for pet allergies is to not have a pet,” she says, “but many people consider pets part of their family and getting rid of the pet is out of the question.”
Helping Your Child with Pet Allergies Live with a Dog or Cat
By Sydney Parker
Aug 1, 2016
Watching a child snuggle up with a warm puppy or kitten is one of the most heartwarming moments life has to offer. There’s a reason that 62 percent of U.S. households have pets, and more than 161 million of these pets are cats and dogs. Our furriest friends are so lovable! But in a cruel twist of fate, many kids who are the most obsessed with animals are also the most allergic to them.
So how do you balance your child’s desire to care for a fluffy creature and the real danger of an allergic reaction? Put your child in a hazmat suit? Keep your cat in a glass cage? Shave your dog bald?
Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic breed of cat or dog, says the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. It’s not the length of the animal’s hair, nor the amount of shedding that brings on the allergic reaction, according to the organization. The true offender is the protein found in the pet’s dander, skin flakes, oil glands, saliva and urine. When a person with allergies is exposed to these triggers, their immune system overreacts, producing irritating symptoms including sniffling, sneezing, itchiness and watery eyes, hives and even asthma.
Does this mean your child can never experience the joy of animal rearing? Not necessarily. Local experts at the Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center say that there are many workarounds available to the determined allergic pet owner.
Cats are kept as pets in more than a quarter of homes nationwide, and dogs are found in nearly one-third. However, roughly twice as many people say they’re allergic to cats, compared to dogs, reports the American Lung Association.
If your kid loves cats, but struggles to breathe when they’re in the room, here are a few suggestions from the Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center to mitigate the allergic effects of your precious kitty — but be warned. This won’t necessarily be easy, and you may want to start with a feline pedicure to reduce scratching:
- Keep your cat primarily in one room of the house, preferably an uncarpeted space.
- Shampoo your cat once a week to reduce the amount of allergens.
- If you feel extra ambitious, blow-dry the cat’s fur to remove excess water.
It can take a few months of this routine before you start to notice a difference in dander; hopefully you’ll be able to stick with the program that long.
Even with a cleaner kitty, you can further reduce allergen exposure by removing carpeting and upholstered furniture, and washing the walls every few months if you plan on keeping your cat indoors. Despite your best efforts, your child could still be exposed to other kids at school who bring cat dander from home on their clothes.
Another option is investing in a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter, which can reduce the level of airborne cat allergens by approximately 50 percent. This is an especially good option if you live in an energy-optimized home. These airtight dwellings are great for the planet, but can trap animal dander inside.
If you or your child loves dogs, the Northwest Asthma & Allergy Center also has a few tips to help keep canine-induced sneezing and itching to a minimum.
You can pick a breed that tends to cause fewer problems for allergy sufferers, including poodles and Labradoodles, schnauzers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Soft-coated Wheaten Terriers, Maltese, Lhasa Apsos, Yorkshire Terriers, Shih Tzus, Irish Water Spaniels and Kerry Blue Terriers.
As with felines, cleanliness will help reduce canine-triggered allergic reactions. It’s a good idea to wash the dog once a week and clean your child’s hands after extended petting sessions. A little soap and water can go a long way toward keeping pet dander from traveling from under your child’s fingernails to their clothes and food.
Regarding décor, choosing leather furniture over upholstered couches and hardwood instead of carpet can make your canine friend less offensive to your child’s sinuses. Carpets are reservoirs for pet dander and oils. Strongly consider having them removed if you want to make your child’s relationship with their dog a mutually beneficial one.
If you suspect your kids are allergic to the cats or dogs they love so much, don’t invest in an iguana just yet. An allergist or immunologist can accurately diagnose your child’s symptoms and develop a treatment plan that works best for your lifestyle.
- Air Purifiers: Air purifiers are highly effective in removing allergens from your home’s air. Choose one that states it removes airborne pet dander. In many cases, those that use HEPA (High-efficiency particulate air) filters are optimal, as they cut down on the amount of pet dander in the air and reduce the severity of allergies. A great resource and buying guide is the Air Purifier Buying Guide by Achoo Allergy. Depending on the square footage the purifier covers, you may want to buy more than one for your home.
- Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems: Choose HEPA filters for your HVAC systems. You might even want to consider installing air purifying systems into your HVAC systems which would provide built-in air cleaning for your home.
- Keep Pets Outside of the Nursery and Bedrooms: Designate bedrooms as “pet-free” zones. This will help to keep your linens, carpeting and clean clothing dander-free, and will provide an allergen-free sleeping environment.
- Regular Grooming: At least once a week, brush and bathe your pet, preferably outside. Frequent grooming will diminish the amount of pet dander your pet carries and sheds.
- Daily Vacuuming and Damp Dusting: Vacuuming and damp dusting will help to prevent pet dander and dust from accumulating in carpets, and in or on your furniture. The less it accumulates, the less it will impact you or your child. Buy a vacuum that uses a HEPA filter for extra filtration.
- Visit an Allergist or Herbalist: There are many natural herbs that can help diminish allergic reactions, not only to pets, but food and other allergens as well. Choose an allergist or herbalist with a solid reputation and consult your pediatrician before giving your child any herbal remedies.
- Regular Hand Washing: Many allergic reactions can be caused from touching eyes and skin after touching an animal. Whenever you spend time petting, playing or touching your animal, wash your hands immediately when done.
- Minimize “Soft Finishes”: Pet dander gets trapped in the fibers of fabric and other “soft finishes,” such as carpeting, fabric drapes and upholstery. If your budget allows or if you are moving to a new home, replace soft finishes with harder finishes, such as plastic, vinyl or wood blinds over drapes for your windows; tile or wood for floors; and leather and wood for furniture.
- Make Your Pet an Outside Pet: If you live in an area that allows for it, keep your pet outdoors in temperate weather. The less time they spend indoors, the less they will shed and slough off dead skin cells inside your home.
Your Environment and Dog Allergies
Most allergists agree that although medication may help, the best way to control dog allergies is to avoid contact with dogs. Here are some tips:
- Keep your distance. Don’t touch, pet, or kiss a dog. As best you can, avoid going to homes with dogs. If you have to stay in a house with a dog, ask if it can be kept out of the room in which you’ll sleep for a few months before your arrival.
- Use your medicine. If you know that you’ll be coming into contact with a dog soon, start taking your medicine a few weeks ahead of time. By taking medication preventatively, you might stop an allergic reaction before it starts.
- Be wary of visitors who own dogs. Dog dander can cling to clothing and luggage. So even if your house guests leave their dogs at home, they can bring the dander with them — and that can cause you a lot of trouble.
Of course, some of the above advice won’t help that much if you already have a dog in your home. Even then, there are still things you can do:
- Clean fanatically. Dog dander can get everywhere. So you need to sweep and mop the floors, vacuum rugs, and clean furniture regularly. If possible, get a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Regular vacuum filters can’t catch the allergens and just send them back into the air.
- Make your home easier to clean. Pull up the carpet. Get rid of the rugs and drapes. Ditch the dusty, overstuffed furniture. Reducing the number of items that can catch dust and dander can help with your dog allergy symptoms.
- Filter the air. Central heat and air conditioning can push dog dander into every room in your house — even those that the dog isn’t allowed in. A central air cleaner — as well as filters on the vents themselves — can help.
- Keep the dog out of your bedroom. Since you spend a third of every day in the bedroom, it’s key to keep it as free of dog dander as possible. A closed door won’t completely seal out the allergens, but it will help.
- Don’t give the dog free rein. Protect yourself by making other areas of the house dog-free too. Depending on the climate and surroundings, you can also consider keeping the dog outside as much as possible.