K.H. asks from Dover, DE on January 10, 2009
Keep the Dog, or Be Rid of Him?
My daughters symptoms have been: eczema, congestion, sneezing, watery eyes, major bowel movement issues, intense heartburn
She has had eczema for a couple of years, and everything else has been within the past 7 months.
She had allergy tests Thursday, and turns out she is allergic to eggs, pork, tomatos, and severely allergic to cats and dogs and mold....along with some other minor environmental allergies.
We have had our lab now for 2 years, and we were greatly advised at the appointment to get rid of him as soon as possible. My question is, is there a possibility that the dog is not causing any of her problems? Or is it pretty much a for sure thing that he is a problem. I have read things about how certain dogs can be ok for people with allergies, but then have found labs under the listing of worst dogs for people with allergies. I of course don't want to get rid of him, but I will not hesitate if it is a problem to my daughters health. I just want to be sure that it is the right thing to do I guess. My step dad is looking for a dog right now, and I am also afraid to pass up the opportunity to give our dog to him and keep him in the family if we ultimately do really need to get rid of him down the line. Any opinions or advice? I promise I wont cry!
A test run wont really work too well, as he lives quite a ways away...and it is going to be hard for him to get our dog in the first place. This is the 6 year old that is having trouble. We have moved a year ago...across the US. We also had a cat for 1 year prior to the dog, which is when the eczema started (reason for giving the cat away), and it never completely left (we got the dog shortly after).
So What Happened?™
Okay...just to be clear, my daughter was tested Thursday, and cats and dogs was a severe allergy. I have, however, discovered that the doggy is causing a lot of congestion problems. She has pretty much been congested since June, and Thursday I sprinkled arm and hammer carpet stuff on the floor, vaccuumed, cleaned up her room, and have kept the dog out of there....and she is now waking with a clear nose. Then yesterday, everytime she snuggled, kissed, loved on our dog, she would get instantly congested, and start sneezing like crazy. We left the allergist being informed of many allergies that she has, so I have come to the choice that passing our beloved pup to grandpa would be the best thing. When summertime and spring roll around, she is going to be bombarded with allergies, along with the everyday dust, and all else. We need to let her body clear up and get healthy! Thanks for all your advice and help!
E.M. answers from Washington DC on January 11, 2009
Those allergy tests are very accurate. If they advise getting rid of the dog, you should do so. Also, bear in mind that it takes a long time to fully purge all the animal dander from your home, so her symptoms may not subside right away. You don't want her developing asthma over this.
Did you ask your doctor about allergy shots? I suffered for years before I discovered I was allergic to cats, which I've always owned. For the past three years, I've been getting shots to desensitize myself to cat dander (and all my other allergens -- I've got lots!) I have to say that they work very well. It takes a bit of a time commitment, though. But I think it's worth it. I'm nearly cured of most of my allergies, and I'll probably be able to discontinue the shots later this year.
Even though that won't help you in the short term -- you'll still have to give up your dog -- in the long run, she'll be healthier and better able to tolerate the presence of dogs, whether they're in her own home, or in the homes of friends and family.
If you live in St. Mary's County, I highly recommend Dr. Pradeep Simlote. He's an asthma & allergy specialist. He has an office in Leonardtown, and I believe in Lexington Park as well.
I wish you the best of luck in dealing with these allergies, and hope for your little girl's speedy recovery.
S.O. answers from Washington DC on January 11, 2009
OK, first off, I am NOT an expert, but I have had dogs and cats for years. There are ways to make dogs more "hypoallergenic." Most pet food stores sell wipes that you can use on the dog's coat to cut down the dander, which is the thing that people are allergic to. Also, check what the dog is eating. A high quality food (like Newman's Own or Wellness) that has fewer fillers or grains, will also help your dog's coat stop giving off so much dander.
another source of allergies could be the stuffed animals that your child has. Our son had a lot of trouble with asthma and we stripped his bed of stuffed animals (it had been covered with them) and let him sleep with only one, that I washed frequently.
Good luck, it would be awful to have to give up a family pet, if there is something you can do to make him more tolerable to your son.
A.F. answers from Washington DC on January 11, 2009
I also suffer with allergies. My doctor explained things to me like this: If you are to carry a bucket of rocks you can carry some but you eventually reach a point when the weight is too much and you cannot carry anymore. It is the same with allergies. Your body can only handle a light load. You must cut out some of things that are bothering you. If you lighten the load you may get by. The doctor said to keep allergens out of the bedroom so at least the body can be free at night to recharge. Can you keep the dog outdoors or in a limited area like the garage? Af
K.J. answers from Washington DC on January 11, 2009
I see you already came to a conclusion. I have to say, I am glad I was never in a position of having to get rid of a pet when the allergies made an appearance in our home. I know one of course chooses their child over the pet, but it can still be a tough decision.
All of our kids suffer SEVERLY from allergies. To the extent we are frequently in the hospital with a new allergy, or anaphalyxia, or what have you. I wanted to mention something. Our oldest has allergies the worst, she used to have 21 food allergies, now it is down to 14, plus al th normal mold, dust, pet dander, seasonal stuff.. and that is a HUGE blessing. She has had trouble in the past with severe congestion, breathing issues etc.. it seems like she was asthmatic, but as she was 2 and even now that she is 3 the dr. is hesitant to stick that label on her. We used the nebulizer as needed, and it was kept under control.
One day I decided to change all our cleaning and body care products. It MADE A HUGE DIFFERENCE!!!!! I cannot tell you how much of a change it made in the congestion, runny nose, watery eyes, eczema area of life for my kids. We use only green products to clean house with, the laundry detergent is also green, and all my kids are washed in either Method squeaky green or California baby products.. (I prefer California baby, but they are pricier) I know it is a jump in cost at first, but if you can phase the products in as you use up current products it will help, and they work, and last so much longer than the other chemical based cleaners. Hope it gives you another alternative.
I know what a change in lifestyle it is to have allergies. Best of wishes as you make the changes! Feel free to contact me if you want to talk. For what it is worth, my daughter had terrible side effects from Zyrtec, it really caused anxiety and nervousness. Clarinex has always been more gentlefor us. Just make sure that your chuld brushes those teeth better the sugar content is much higher in most allergy meds, resulting in cavities for my girl. Something to check out if no one else has mentioned it is the Food Allergy Anaphalaxis Network (FAAN) their website is GREAT! Fun recipes, ideas of how to help kids understand, products for teachers,caregivers, and children for educational purposes..and all kinds of support and other info. Check it out! Hope all works out!
J.K. answers from Washington DC on January 12, 2009
Perhaps you can have him fostered by a friend or family member for a few months but the only way to know for sure is get him and his belongings out of the house, use a hepa filter vacuum, wash all sheets and towels in HOT water, make sure all his dog beds, blankets, etc are gone and try this for 2-3 months. If you can kennel him somewhere or have him stay with someone, it may work for you to do this by process of elimination.
It may work, even if difficult, to have your dad "board" him for several months.
I could not in good conscience keep a dog if i found my child had a severe allergy to dogs. There are only a few "hypoallergenic" dogs but a lab is not one of them.
Good luck, i know this is a very sad choice.
L.G. answers from Washington DC on January 11, 2009
Tough choice. Labs do have a lot of dander and I would try to give him to your step dad if that's a possibility right now. Many people aren't adopting and many have to give up there dogs due to foreclosure, so I would do it. You can also try a holistic dog food or eating raw (BARF for dogs). My sister in law has a basset hound that is severely stinky all the time and the only thing that gets rid of the smell is the dog food. I buy the EVO brand for my dog and his poop just disintegrates in a week, no pick up necessary! It may help with dander, but maybe your vet will have some good brands to try.
S.C. answers from Norfolk on January 11, 2009
Good choice to find a home for your dog. That should take care of some symptoms. The rest of her symptoms would be from the food allergies. Make sure you learn all the places eggs and egg derivitives are (i.e.Flu Shot). There are great websites and support groups if you need more help/info.
You'll need to rid your home of the dog residue and prepare for other allergens. Have carpets, furniture and drapes cleaned. Wash the linens and clothes which have been in contact. Air out mattresses, vacuum them and then put allergy cover on them. Get an air cleaner for your daughters bedrooms, clean them thoroughly. In the spring DON'T open windows to air out your house (you are just inviting allergens in). My oldest (8) has asthma and is allergic to almost everything outside (grass, trees, weeds, mold, dust, etc.). We have been able to avoid allergy shots by doing the above and his takind zyrtec and singulair. Good luck.
A.P. answers from Roanoke on January 10, 2009
It sounds to me like the cat you had was probably the start of the eczema and the dog might have continued it, but as for the other symptoms I agree with the others that you might want to get your home tested for mold, unless you can think of any other changes that might have caused the other symptoms, because I really feel that the dog did not cause them if you have had the dog 2 years and the symptoms have only been for 7 months.
And if there are no issues there (and if you can afford it since your step-dad is far away) find a nice Kennel for your dog to stay in for a week. After you drop him off, go home and clean throughout your home and move anything of his(bed, toys, ect) out of the house. If her symptoms don't at least start to improve then you know the dog is not the issue.
I just thought of one more possibility, you said these newer symptoms started about 7 months ago, could it have been around the time she started school in her new town? Maybe there is mold or something else at the school that could be causeing these symptoms.
And if you do find it is something else you still might have to take the dog out of the house for a week or two so she can get all the symptoms out of her system as the dog might not be the inital cause but could keep them from clearing up.
Best of luck