One of the most overlooked aspects of allergy treatment for dogs is removing allergens from the animal’s environment. We spend so much time treating the dog that we sometimes forget to treat the environment in a way that will minimize allergens. The following is a list of recommendations I make to my clients who live with allergic dogs and cats.
1) Get an air purifier. I used to scoff at the effectiveness of air purifiers until my husband bought a Holmes unit for our bedroom. It made a huge difference for me, our dog and our cat.
2) Use hypoallergenic products to wash all of your dog’s bedding. Double rinse after cleaning.
3) Avoid sprinkle in carpet cleaners. I think it is the powder that sets-off allergic animals.
4) Prevent exposure to aerosols of any kind. Place them in another room while using the products and wait at least two hours before allowing them back in. Besides cleaning products, this category includes air fresheners, perfume and hairspray.
5) Do not use flea collars. I have seen dogs with allergies suffer horrible reactions to the chemicals in flea collars. They develop an ulcerative dermatitis that is difficult to treat because the chemical remains in the skin for a long time.
6) Avoid wool blankets or real fleece beds. Cotton seems to work better although I had one patient who developed an allergy to cotton.
7) Keep your dog off golf courses. The chemicals used to keep the grass growing often cause severe reactions. If you absolutely must take your dog on the course, i.e. the dog is used to keep waterfowl off the course, then rinse their feet off well at the end of the day.
8) Avoid recently salted roads and sidewalks. The salt burns if trapped between their toes.
9) Vacuum regularly to decrease the amount of dust in your house.
10) Use high-quality filters in your HVAC system. At my home we use 3M brand Ultrete filters (in the purple wrapper).
11) If you smoke, go outside and leave the dog inside until you are finished.
This post concludes the series on dog allergies. I hope you gained a better understanding of the problem, available tests and treatments to help manage your pet’s allergies! -Dr. Nelson