Am I Choosing My Dog over My Child?

Updated on February 03, 2011
S.S. asks from Los Angeles, CA
29 answers

When my son was born he had eczema pretty badly and was congested a lot. We took him to an allergist and he was diagnosed as being allergic to dust mites, cats and dogs. The allergy to the cats were greater, being rated as moderate - severe. Dogs and dust were labelled mild - moderate. We had one dog and one cat at the time. We got rid of the cat and symptoms improved dramatically. My son no longer gets eczema and seems fine on a day to day basis. The only thing that still remains is the congestion. I've asked my doctor if I should get rid of the dog and he said that's really a personal decision. He said even if I got rid of the dog, there'd still be dust mites in the house so its no guarantee that my son's symptoms would even improve but obviously no dog is better than a dog. My dr. wants to see my son this week to possibly put him on "controller meds" b/c he has been using the nebulizer since he got sick a couple of weeks ago and it seems to help him sleep better at night. Since he's still sick, I'm not sure why the dr wants to talk about the controller meds right now as we don't know if the wheezing is due to the cold (he always needs a nebulizer when he gets sick) or due to allergies. Sigh. I'm just at a loss right now. I love my dog so much -- she is truly a part of the family and like a second child to my husband and me. Of course if she was aggravating our son definitively, we'd get her a new home but the fact that my son seems fine on a day to day basis and the fact that my dr said since he's allergic to dust, symptoms may not even improve is throwing me for a loop! What if we got rid of her and my son remains the same?? Sigh. Am I being selfish? This is really eating me up. Anyone go through something similar? What did you do? (I'm open to all honest answers but please be kind in your responses!)

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answers from Atlanta on

I would not give up my dog - my kids would be getting allergy shots or meds before that was even a consideration. When we got her, I saw it as an adoption. She may be a different species but she is still a member of this family.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Can you put the dog in a kennel or with friends/family for a couple of weeks to see if the symptoms improve?
As far as the dust mites go there are quite a few things you can do to cut down on with that. Just do a search for dust mite prevention and see what comes up. I had horrible dust mite allergies when I was younger so we had to do some stuff to help me out.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Id get rid of the dog, or anything else that was hindering my child. I would find him a good home where he would be just as loved.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter is allergic to dust mites & dog hair. She had severe congestion problems due to it and an allergy test confirmed what was going on. Of course as parents our child’s health comes first so I don’t think for a second that you are choosing your dog over your son silly!!

What I did = I bought my daughter a dust mite mattress cover, vacuum when she is not home, dust her room often, bought a air purifier to keep in her room and I clean her room everyday. Plus, I dust the house and vacuum often as well.

It made a world of difference!!!

Basically, exhaust all your options BEFORE finding another home for your dog. You never know! It may make a world of difference for your son as well.

Added: I forgot to mention that I also got rid of all her stuffed animals as they harbor dust mites like crazy!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I would get a really good vacuum and use it often. I would keep the dog out of his room and get an air purifier for his room. I would read up on all ways to reduce dust mites from the house and his bedroom specifically.

Your son likely loves the dog, too. I would try everything else before finding the dog a new home. I don't think this is selfish at all.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

NO you are not being selfish and boy do I wish there were more moms like you. Please also take into consideration something about this time of year, the age of your son and other factors. There are sicknesses in schools, germs in the air and dogs in houses he will visit. There will be people with dog dander on their clothing (other kids) and you really have not got 100 percent proof that the dog is the cause of everything. I suggest you continue to search for medications and unless you are so convinced it IS the dog, then get rid of it. Otherwise, I didn't give one of my children away because he gave the other one chickenpox, colds, etc. we all just learned to co-exist. And that is what your family is doing, dog and all.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

My suggestion would be:
To get an air filter/air purifier for your home.
In HIS room especially... and DO NOT let the dog go in his room
Or put air purifiers in each room.
It is WORTH the cost, if it helps your son.

Costco sells them.
Even our Pediatrician has one in each exam room.
It is the 'tower' type of air filter/air purifier.

I have/had allergies like that when a child, and I have Asthma.
My parents got air filters/purifiers for our home.
It helps.

Also, when you vacuum the home, do not let him be in the same room, during. Because, vacuuming, really stirs up the air and the dust.

Or keep the dog outside.

I would also wonder if your son has Asthma.

"Wheezing" can be due to having a cold, the cold weather/air, AND Asthma. Those things, affects me and my Asthma and I wheeze.

all the best,

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Harrisburg on


Since you are having such a hard time deciding, would it be reasonable to let someone else keep the dog for a month or so or in another location in your house out of contact with your son, then see how much your son improves or worsens, then make your decision.

At the least you will accomplish 2 things - a chance to be away from the dog and test how much you can live without it and secondly to see if your son's health will get better on account of that.

If neither affected the other, you get to keep them both :-))

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You got a lot of good, reasonable responses, most of which I agree with.

I would read up on ridding your son's environment of dust mites, which will also help with any dog dander that might be amongst the dust. Also, my son's allergist told me that with dogs, it is often NOT the dog's fur that causes the allergy, it is their saliva. That may be the case with your son. A friend has a child with a dog allergy, and she is fine, unless the dog licks her, then she'll break out into hives.

There are lots of things you can do to eliminate many of the allergens in your home without acutally getting rid of the dog. If you can, take the carpeting out of your son's bedroom, if he has carpet. Carpeting can be heavily laden with dust mites, especially if it's not newer carpeting. Invest in a good sweeper with a Hepa filter. Take down any curtains in your son's room. Dust with a damp cloth so as not to make more dust airborne. Eliminate as many stuffed toys/pillows/blankets in his room as you can (any extras that he might play with but does not need for sleep.) Launder those you keep regularly in hot water. Cover his mattress and pillow with a zippered allergen proof casing. Launder his bedding at least once weekly in hot water. get an air purifier for your son's room, and the main rooms the dog stays in if you can afford it. Keep the dog out of your son's room. And there is more you can do... I'd read up on it, and try these things, and see what happens. I'll bet you'll be surprised how much these changes can help.

Best wishes to you.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

my answer is the same as the last post. keep the dog and try everything else suggested if it doesnt work then get rid of the dog. I am severly allergic to cats and have a cat. only long hair cats bother me I cant be around them 5 minutes. but short hair cats I can keep with no problem. I think your overreacting by getting rid of the dog so quick. try the other suggestions first and no your not putting the dog over the kid cause if you are I am putting the cat over me:) somepeople just need to complain about something. and nit pick everything. but like i said in my other post if my suggestions dont work you have to get rid of the dog at that point. if you dont you would be putting the dog over your kid. but as of now no.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I so understand, our critters are very much a part of our family. I don't think you are being selfish. You are a good owner and understand that animals are not disposable. You have some good suggestions. I would try what is suggested and see what happens. And the doctor is right, you cant get rid of dust mites all together so the dog may not make a difference. If your son is fine on a day to day basis I wouldn't worry so much. My friend developed an allergy to her cats and what helped her was limiting where they could go. They were not aloud in the sleeping part of the house and they had a bath every couple of months. You can try the same with your pup. Keep the hair short and give her a bath every couple of months. ( do not over do it because it can cause more dander if you give too many baths) I grew up with all sorts of animals as an asthmatic, I would occasionally get a reaction to cats or bunnies, but I thought that the stuffy nose and need for the inhaler was so worth the love and comfort my animals gave me as a child. If your son is not deathly ill all the time, I would wait and see. Also he could be wheezing due to the illness, there have been some really nasty viruses going around that have been effecting the lungs in our neck of the woods, so perhaps it could be where you are too. If worse comes to worse, then look for friends or family so that you may still visit and see your pup. Good luck.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dayton on

Could you possibly send your dog to visit family/friends for a month or so to see if your son improves?
I have varying degrees of difficulty breathing around different breeds.
What breed is your dog?
Ultimately, if it came down to putting a child on drugs or finding a new home for doggy I would choose the latter.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

Can you have a friend or relative house her temporarily. Then clean from top to bottom. Maybe even change to non-toxic products (those can be a trigger too). See if things improve. If so, you have found your answer. If not, bring the dog back, continue to clean often (bathe the dog often too), and use controller meds if necessary.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

Before you get rid of your dog (and yes they are part of the family - we have ours despite my husband being VERY allergic!). you can try some other options... allergy meds, keeping the dog out of the child's room, and maybe cutting his hair often (not sure what kind of dog). I would guess the symptoms are NOT from the dog. You could board the dog for a couple weeks or find a temporary home to see what effect it has on your son... Sorry to ramble - just some thoughts. And to answer your question, no, you are not choosing your son over the dog. His symptoms are mild so it seems, and if you Dr. says they may not improve, keep the dog!~

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Madison on

I don't think you're being selfish. I lost my dog to cancer just a few months ago, and I miss him like CRAZY every single day. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of him. I am a dog fanatic, so I know where you are coming from.

But, besides that, when our daughter was born we had my dog and a cat. She was showing symptoms of being allergic so like you we wanted to do whatever it took to make her feel better so we ended up giving away our cat since that was likely the biggest culprit. Well, it turns out she didn't improve at all after the cat was gone, and really she was just having reactions to dust mites. That was 2 years ago and my husband and I still very much regret giving up our cat to this day.

It is a hard position to be in I know, especially when you don't know if it will even help your kiddo. You want to do whatever it takes to make them better, but animals are a huge part of family so it's not as easy as some people think to just get rid of them. I don't know if I have any advice for you, but good luck with whatever you decide, that's a tough one.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I think you should get the dog out of the house for a period of time so you can gauge how much a difference it makes.
Then, go from there.
If your son improves greatly with the dog gone, then you know you have to do something to get him relief.

I have a friend who is constantly complaining about their asthma and all the allergy medications the entire family is on, but she's got dogs in the house. She would never part with them and in fact, got another one.
I don't really understand it. She knows what irritates them. They gasp and wheeze, their eyes and noses run, they all have inhalers. No matter how much she vacuums there's dog hair everywhere.
That's the sign of a dog lover, if I ever saw one.

I hope you find what works best for your family.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

You are NOT being selfish. I love my pets to do and would do anything I could to keep them. Unfortunately, my boyfriend is allergic to cats so when we move in together my kitty is going to live with my parents (Allergy medicines don't work for him apparently... And he hates cats). Ignore the poster than made the comment about you so easily giving up the cat. I'm sure that it was a hard decision, but as you said in the post the allergy to cats is moderate to severe where the allergy to the dog is mild to moderate.

Anyways, I like the idea of having a "testing" period. Could any family members take the dog for a month or so? If your son gets better, then you'll know that you will need to find a new home for the dog (Maybe you could just make the dog an outside dog instead of an inside dog, if that's a possibility). If your son stays the same, then you'll know that you can keep the dog.

Or you could just put your son in a bubble, give him painful allergy shots daily, and get the cat back :) Sorry, I couldn't resist.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Albany on

There are a thousand things you can do to make any given dog less allergic. Google it and try ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY EVERYTHING else, before you THINK about getting rid of the dog.

Least that's what I would do.

Also, as awful as this sounds, kids grow out of allergies, and even asthma.

Well, if your fella is GASPING FOR BREATH all the time...well...
But sounds to me like you are only just starting to get to the core of his respiratory issues, may having nothing whatsoever to DO with the dog.

(Yeah, I LOOOOOOOOOOOVE my doggies, cannot imagine being in your place)


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Ok, here is what I would do in your shoes ... kennel the dog for a month, visit often but shower/change clothes before you come home from the visit. Get the carpets/furniture shampooed and cleaned professionally wash everything ... take to the laundry mat and do it all in one day if possible ... if by the end of the month things have improved for your child find the dog a home if not keep the dog.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

This is probably not an answer you will like - sorry! - but if there was even the slightest chance a dog could be affecting one of my children's health, I would find it a new home. To me, it just would not be worth taking the chance. But I would get a second opinion first. Then, if that doctor agrees that the dog might be aggravating your son's health , maybe there a relative or close friend that could take the dog - that way, you could still see the dog. I have not had something exactly like this, but my DH is mildly allergic to dogs (and very allergic to cats), and as much as I love dogs and always had one growing up, we have never had a dog (and never will). It is just not worth it to make my husband the slightest bit sicker (he has asthma and bad allergies to dust and many outdoor allergens). Good luck with your decision!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Erie on

I love my dog but i love my kids more. Giving them meds does not sound like a good solution to me, what are the side effects.

Maybe a compromise????? IS there anyone you know that is willing to foster your dog for 3 months. Get her out of the house and give your son a chance to be able to breathe freely. If nothing changes, then bring her back, if it does improve you'll have your answer and hopefully if you find a family member or close friend to take her you can still see her.

I know pets are part of our families but if this is affectingyour son you need to take care of him. Can you just imagine always being congested and not being able to breath!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

How old is your son? I would try everything else before giving up the dog. I am a dog person for sure! We've had our dog for 9 years and my boys are 5, 2, and 6 months. You are not being selfish--you're being responsible. Best of luck. I hope you can all live together as one big happy family!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Please don't feel bad about getting rid of your cat and not the dog as a previous poster suggested. Cat dander is linked to more severe allergies and asthma that can last a lifetime. I can attest to that. Even after a cat is out of the house, the sticky dander remains on walls, carpets, etc. for years. The same is not true of dog dander. (It may be due to the saliva and the way cats groom themselves). That said, despite my allergies to both (VERY severe to cats and moderate to dogs) I grew up with both a cat and a dog. I don't think you are being selfish keeping your dog. If your son was suffering from daily allergy attacks not controlled with medication, wheezing, etc. then rehoming the dog would be a good choice, but if his symptoms are mild and can be controlled, there shouldn't be a problem keeping the dog. As a matter of fact, studies have been done that report if a child grows up with 1 or more dogs in a house, they have a smaller risk of asthma compared with kids growing up without pets. Kids growing up with cats, if they are allergic, have a much higher risk of asthma.
Maybe try going on vacation without the dog and see if his symptoms improve significantly?
Also...there is a product called put it on the dog and it is supposed to neutralize the dander.
All that said, if one of my kids ended up being severely allergic to our dog, who IS my 4-legged child, that dog would be rehomed. Most kids DO NOT grow out of asthma or allergies, and knowing how it feels to struggle to breathe, I would not wish that on my worst enemy. Also, I'd avoid allergy shots if you can...they ended up triggering asthma in me that I now must live with.
Good luck to you!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I would research methods for helping make the dog less likely to shed allergens - namely, bathing every 1 to 2 weeks (using a mild moisturizing dog shampoo that will not dry out their skin from being bathed that often) and not allowing the dog to sleep in any of the bedrooms. Make sure you are washing the dog's bedding on a regular basis too.

You can also research methods for reducing the load of dust and dust mite in the house.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

I'm still trying to understand why you'd so easily get rid of your cat... who should have also been like part of the family - while the dog is still there. Since that's over - and I'm hoping your cat is still alive and found a better family who won't throw it away... I'd keep your dog.

There are TONS of medications that can be taken for allergies. I'm very very allergic to anything with fur and I have 12 cats, 11 are indoor. If my daughter were to have been allergic to the same extent as myself, I would be giving her daily meds like I take in order to keep my WHOLE family intact.

You take in an animal and in that your promise them to be a humane, loving and responsible pet owner. That means to keep them and work with them thru behavioral issues, hard times, etc.


I'm shocked at all the cat haters here - or those who feel cats are more disposable than a dog. A pet is a pet - PERIOD. As the owner of an animal you've made the choice to care for that animal until it's death. It's disgusting how many here feel it's ok to give away a cat - to it's death quite possibly - but think it's FINE to keep the other pet just because it's a dog.

You can wipe down a cat with a wet wash clothe twice daily to cut down on the dander - DUH ladies... you really think that what works for one species will not work for another?



answers from Charlotte on




answers from Dallas on

How often do you bath the dog? Frquent bathing with a gentle shampoo may help. I use a oatmeal and aloe sampoe diluted, and bath my dog once a week.



answers from New York on

My daughter is allergic to dust mites and there are things you can do, which we do, hence she's not on any allergy medication: allergen pillows, mattress protector (to keep the dust mites in), purifier, HEPA things etc.
Now, I am not a dog person so it's easy for me to say no one would come before my child. But that's just how I feel. I am also one of those people who does not believe pets are kids. So this would be the easiest decision ever.



answers from Chicago on

We found out one of my twins was allergic to pet dander when he was only four months old. I bawled my eyes out because we have two black labs. We've since had to give away one of them for growling reasons, but we still have one. I made a personal decision to keep the dog, and my husband was fine with it. Our son has a little congestion, but he doesn't need medication. It is a tough decision to make, but it is one only you can make.

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