Dog and Pet Allergy Symptoms, Allergy Medicine and Natural Pet Allergy Treatment.
Allergy Treatments for People Allergic to Pets
I love pets, and I always have. I grew up with dogs and my life revolved around dogs for as long as I can remember. While I was in school, I would count the hours until I would get home so that I could play with my dog, Toby. Our family vacations always included our family dog. When we traveled to our friend’s lake cabin during the summers, I would walk the shoreline with my dog and their three dogs. That’s what I did day in and day out. It was the best of times.
I also remember having a hacking cough, what sounded like a smoker’s cough, during my childhood. I was prone to bronchitis and even pneumonia. I remember the feeling of always having phlegm in my lungs, and visualized being able to suck it out once and for all.
When I was about thirteen, I had allergy testing. I remember having 74 scratch tests on my back, and anything that came up questionable was then injected into my arms. Having the sensitive skin I do, that meant nine in one arm, and ten in the other. I remember staring at the dog and chocolate injection sites, praying I did not have a reaction; unfortunately, dog and dust were two of my allergens that would need to be addressed.
Being a dog-lover, getting rid of my dog, Toby was not an option. I was allergic to dust too, so I was going to have to have allergy shots twice a week for dust anyway, so it wasn’t a big deal to add a dog allergy shot. Twice a week, my mom took me to my doctor’s office for two shots. I had to stay for 20 minutes after each shot to ensure I did not have a reaction to the injection.
Over the next three years, my twice-weekly allergy shots tapered to once a week, then to every other week. The plan was for a five-year treatment plan, but once I hit sixteen, all that went out the window. 😉 Now, in my 40s, I’ve spent the last 20 years hands-on with dogs and cats! Do I ever have a reaction? Every once in a while, a dog or cat will flare up my eyes or bring on a sneeze or two, but for the most part, I have no reaction to dogs or cats.
What Can You Do Now if You are Allergic to Your Pet?
Now, that’s the big question. In my profession, I hear a lot of people say they had to get rid of their dog or cat because of allergies. I always wonder if these people would really have to go to that extreme, or if they too would be able to be treated for their pet allergy like I was. Of, course, each person is different and I am in no position to judge someone’s choice. But, I was curious about what kind of treatments are out there for pet allergies and if it was the same treatment I had as a teen, so I asked some experts!
Medical Treatments for Pet Allergies
Dr. Daniel Slaughter, Board Certified in Otolaryngology and Sleep Medicine by the American Board of Otolaryngology, offers these tips. “Patients are actually allergic to the dander, which are tiny flakes of dead skin and hair. These particles are very small, become concentrated in the patient’s home over time, and are highly allergenic.” He continues by explaining, “Allergy medicines such as steroid nasal sprays, antihistamines, and decongestants can help, but they don’t actually prevent the allergic reaction. These medicines simply cover up some of the symptoms.”
Dr. Slaughter explains how drop therapy can be used to treat the cause of a pet allergy. “Fortunately, allergy drop therapy can be very effective as well as convenient and safe. Based on the same principle as allergy shots, the allergy drops are a liquid of the allergens that bother the patient. Drops of this liquid are placed under the tongue daily to stimulate the immune system to develop antibodies to block the allergy.” He continues to state, “Unlike medicines, this form of therapy actually prevents the allergic reaction. It typically has no side effects and is very effective. Most patients will be free of allergy symptoms by 6-12 months, and the drops can be stopped usually after three years of therapy with lasting results.”
Natural Pet Allergy Treatment: Cleanliness
Dr. Joelle Cafaro DC CCN, a Certified Clinical Nutritionist, offers these tips. “There are many natural approaches for allergies. When it comes to being allergic to your pet, keeping the environment as clean as possible is very helpful. Using a HEPA type filter in the house, keeping pets off of furniture, and having hard-surface floors is very beneficial.”
Natural Pet Allergy Treatment: Foods
What I have learned over the years working with Dexter, is that reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system are always beneficial when addressing allergies. Ashley Iovinelli, Holistic Health Coach and Founder of Wheatgrass Warrior, offers these tips. “When you come into contact with something you are allergic or sensitive to, such as pet dander, your body will produce histamine which causes inflammation as part of the reaction. Try adding foods that fight inflammation to your diet including: fruits and berries, tomatoes, leafy greens, fatty fish, olive oil, and nuts. It is important to try to eat organic when possible and to avoid sugar and processed food.”
Natural Pet Allergy Treatment: Herbs and Supplements
Dr Cafaro holds a Certificate of Proficiency in Practical Herbal Therapy from the Australian College of Phytotherapy, and offers these suggestions for herbal treatments. “For allergies such as water itchy eyes and runny nose, the herb euphrasia, also known as eyebright, can be very helpful. Allergy symptoms such as difficulty breathing, wheezing or asthma, the herb albizia or a combination product of fenugreek and thyme, also called fenuthyme, can help appease these symptoms. The supplements quercetin and bromelain are natural antihistamines that can also provide relief.”
Natural Pet Allergy Treatment: Homeopathy
Master Herbalist RH (AHG) and Classical Homeopath Sara Chana Silverstein has been working with people who suffer with allergies for over 26 years. She recommends, “Although it is best to work with a professional homeopath, here are some suggestions: The dosage is to let 3 pellets dissolve under your tongue either three times a day or as needed when symptoms arise. Allium Cepa 15c: For drippy eyes and constant runny nose, Euphrasia 15c: For burning and tearing eyes, or Sabadilla 15c: For a cough and sneezing.”
Natural Pet Allergy Treatment: Acupuncture
Caleb Backe, a representative of Maple Holistics, offers this personal insight. “The most effective allergy treatment by far, I have found, has been acupuncture. Bi-monthly visits to an acupuncture clinic have overwhelmingly kept my symptoms at bay, to the extent that I see no need to pursue any other kinds of treatment. I do keep my over-the-counter medications close by in case of an attack, but have had no need to use them in a very long time.”
Natural Pet Allergy Treatment: Essential Oils
Ashley Iovinelli also recommends the use of essential oils. “Lavender oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antihistamine. You can add a drop or two to the base of your neck and behind your ears or breathe it in through a diffuser. Also, eucalyptus offers relief from allergy symptoms; it is a natural analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and expectorant. It can help to clear your sinuses, reduce wheezing and chest congestion, and detoxify allergens from your system. Mix eucalyptus with a carrier oil like coconut oil and apply to your chest. “
If you have recently been diagnosed with a pet allergy, I highly recommend speaking to your doctor and holistic practitioner before heading to the shelter with your pet. There may be a way to ease your pet allergies. For those of you who have been diagnosed with a pet allergy, but who currently do not own a pet, I would first pet sit or foster for a variety of pets prior to making the plunge. But there is hope to ease your pet allergies!
Do you have pet allergies? Tell me in the comments.
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