Problem: you love dogs, but you're allergic to them. You lean down to pet an adorable puppy, and suddenly you're sneezing. Pet dander sets off your immune system, which overreacts and causes a plethora of unfun symptoms. If this describes you, then you're part of the 15 percent of the population allergic to pets. What's a dog-crazy person to do? Do you have to give up puppies altogether? Say it ain't so!
Don't worry. Just because you have pet dander allergies doesn't mean you have to forgo owning a pet. You do have to be a little extra cautious about eliminating fur from your living space, but it's not as hard as you might think. We've got the scoop on simple, everyday strategies for reducing allergens from pets. These four practical tips emphasize prevention and can help allergy sufferers experience the joy of pet parenthood.
1. Baths and Brushing
Grooming gets the job done. No matter how fluffy your pet, a regular grooming routine will help to reduce allergens in your home. It's important to note that you're not actually allergic to your dog's fur. Instead, your immune system is overreacting to the dander, which are the dead skin flakes present in all that fluff. Er, yeah. Pet parenthood can be gross — which doesn't make us love our dogs any less.
Luckily, strategies for getting rid of pet fur will also help you get rid of the dander. This is where your grooming routine becomes key. Bathing your dog frequently removes the dead skin flakes that cause all that sneezing. In fact, giving your pet plenty of baths can reduce allergens by as much as 84 percent.
Just be sure to use a mild, pet-friendly shampoo, as you don't want to dry out your dog's skin. There are even shampoos and wipes specifically designed to reduce dog allergens while remaining gentle on your pet.
When it comes to brushing, there are lots of great pet hair removal tools that range from low-tech (rubber glove, anyone?) to high-end. Whatever you use for grooming, it's a good idea to get the fur removal done outdoors. That's right. When possible, brush your dog outside! This simple tip will reduce the likelihood of pet dander sticking around your home.
2. Allergen-Resistant House
Are you ready for this? For dog-lovers with pet dander allergies, it all comes down to one simple tip.
Get rid of the carpet.
True, that can be a big step. But consider that carpet is a likely spot for pet hair to hide — and those allergens can stick around for a long time, causing symptoms year-round. If you can swing it, have the carpet pulled up and replaced with dog-friendly flooring like laminate, tile, or hardwoods.
Even if it's not possible to get rid of your carpet, you can reduce trapped pet dander by ensuring that certain parts of your home are dog-free. This is particularly important for your sleeping area. As cuddly as your dog can be, don't let her sleep on your bed. Keeping your pet out of the bedroom will keep the allergens off your pillow.
3. Vacuum Power and Laundry Day
OK, so your dog has a tendency to hop that baby gate and sprawl out on your bedroom floor anyway. No worries: a powerful vacuum will still prevent pet fur from invading your space. A great vacuum is an allergy sufferer's friend. A HEPA filter is especially effective for keeping your home allergy-free.
Pro tip: Once you have the right vacuum, make sure you empty it outside! If you put those piles of fluff in your outdoor garbage can, you'll prevent clouds of pet dander from lingering in the house.
Frequently washing bedding — your own as well as your pet's — is another critical step for reducing pet dander. It helps to have dedicated dog blankets and beds for your pet, which you can wash often.
4. Proper Nutrition For Your Dog
Can your dog's food really make a difference when it comes to pet allergies? In a word, yes. Making sure that your dog is eating a nutrient-rich food that contains plenty of omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids should help. These nutrients ensure a shinier, stronger coat of fur.
Also, providing plenty of fresh drinking water keeps your pet hydrated, which in turn leads to a healthier skin and coat.
What About Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds?
If your allergies reach a critical point and prevention just isn't helping, you can always search for a hypoallergenic dog breed. Keep in mind that no dog is truly 100 percent dander-free, but there are around 20 breeds that produce less dander and often shed less, as well.
Check out 13 of the most popular hypoallergenic dog breeds here. Many of these dogs, such as poodles, have hair rather than fur — but that's not the reason they're considered good for allergy sufferers! In fact, it's because they have a single, rather than a double, coat — so you can expect less shedding.