Son Allergic to Dogs! Help!

Updated on May 06, 2009
H.E. asks from Dickinson, ND
22 answers

Hello Everyone! We have just determined that my 9 month old son is allergic to our 2 dogs--a shitsu and a chow. We really don't want to get rid of our dogs, as they are a very special part of our family and the children--not to mention mom and dad!!---would be crushed if we had to give them away. We are going to get them shaved as short as possible on a regular basis and use allergy reducing shampoo every week on them. Has anyone had any experience with this and do you think it will help? Any other suggestions??

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L.M.

answers from Milwaukee on

I know someone whose daughter had the same problem. They bought a really good vacuum (I would recommend the Dyson Animal made specifically for pets...it's amazing what Dysons pick up). They also have a really good air filtration unit. Their daughter built up a good resistence to their dog, and unless she rubs the dog's blanket against her skin (which will cause a rash), she's fine. Good luck, that is a tough decision.

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N.B.

answers from Duluth on

a shih tzu is a non shedding dog so really shouoldn't be a problem. Be sides the shampoo try talking to the babies Dr you might be able to get him meds to help him. It could actually take away his allergies after awhile. Good luck! I know how attached you get to those dogs!

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A.F.

answers from St. Cloud on

Hi H., I am allergic to cats and dogs. Trimming fur and shampoos make no difference in my case. It's the most miserable feeling to be allergic. I hope you reconsider keeping your pets. I realize that you love your pets dearly but if you knew how miserable it makes a person feel you would definitely find an alternative living arrangement for them. Can they live in your garage?
I hope I didn't offend you. I am an animal lover and it's hard for me to not have a pet but it truly is miserable and I don't think it's really fair to medicate a baby against pet allergies. Just my honest opinion.

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L.

answers from Minneapolis on

H., I know this isn't what you want to hear, but this is my experience. I've been allergic to dogs my entire life. As a child, my parents tried to get "non-allergenic" dogs, but nothing worked. The dogs always needed to be returned. As a child, I would often end up with bronchitis after being exposed to dogs and to this day I'm still miserable for a day or 2 after visiting a home with dogs for a couple of hours. I know you love you dogs, but if your son's allergies are severe, his health and well-being is much more important.

1 mom found this helpful
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S.C.

answers from Omaha on

We had our daughter tested with an allergist and she came back being allergic to cats and dogs as a 4 which is the highest that you can test. We were lucky to have wood floors under our carpet so we took up the carpet. Before we did that, I vacuumed almost daily and vacuumed everything including the couches. We also bought these wipes that you can wipe down your dog to get rid of hair and dander - we did this only once a week.

The weird thing with our daughter was that she was not really reacting to our dog or other people's dogs. When we asked the allergist about that, she said that sometimes a young child can test positive for an animal allergy but if they are around that animal, they can almost build an immunity to it. She said this is why farm kids can test positive but not react - they are around animals all the time.

Hopefully your son will be like our daughter because I could not imagine getting rid of our boxer. I almost started crying when the allergist told us she was allergic to dogs and cats because we love animals and having them be a part of our family.

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E.B.

answers from Duluth on

Not sure whether it's an option, but my husband and I are also allergic, so our pets are outside pets. They have special places in our garage where they live, and, since they put on nice winter coats, they are outside constantly again as soon as it's even vaguely warm (like 0). I know for cats, it's not the fur but the dander you're allergic to, and that's less of an issue if the cat is outside; they don't have to lick themselves because the fur is shed "naturally" by their outdoor life.

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A.C.

answers from Minneapolis on

Hi H.. My son (now 4 1/2) was diagnosed as allergic to dogs, cats, and rabbits when he was 1 yr. old. (We had then, and still have, 1 dog and 1 rabbit.) The allergist immediately started talking to us about getting rid of the pets and allergy-proofing the house. We were in the process of moving here from out of state at the time, so we concentrated on allergy-proofing the house and decided to wait to do anything about the pets, as our son didn't show symptoms all the time. Shortly after we moved here, our son got the flu and had some major respiratory attacks and ended up in the hospital. The staff at the hospital immediately told us to get rid of the pets. We were devastated. Our pediatrician said to wait it out to see if our son's wheezing continued, or if he outgrew it. Now, 3 years later, we still have the pets and our son is doing fine. We have discovered that the allergies are still there, but have changed over time. (We had him tested again a couple of months ago. The dog allergy has stayed the same, but the rabbit allergy has decreased.) Since his symptoms are not consistent, we are able to control them with the occasional dose of Children's Claritin, and he takes Singulair daily with no side-effects. The one thing we have to watch is that he's more susceptible to wheezing, as the allergies are one more thing to put him over the edge when he has a cold. Needless to say, we watch him carefully when he gets sick. At this point, he shows no symptoms of the allergies, and we haven't had any wheezing episodes for some time. I know that horrible feeling when they tell you to get rid of the pets. I would say that it depends greatly on the severity of the allergies, your thoughts/limits on medications, and what your doctors say. What you're doing is a good start. Also, we were told that when they are that young, allergy testing isn't foolproof. I would guess that the allergies are definitely there, but that they may change over time as your child gets older. Good luck with whatever you decide to do.

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J.R.

answers from Minneapolis on

H.-
I have a friend who just had her child tested in a chiropractic clinic and they were able to give a safe homepathic supplement that has helped with her daughter's symptoms. Let me know if you want me to find out the name of the place for you. My friend was thrilled!

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E.C.

answers from Minneapolis on

To my knowledge Shitsu dog have ''hair'' not ''fur'' making them hypoallergenic and safe for people with dog allergies. My best friend is allergic to dog and because of this purchased a Shitsu for that reason. Chows I'm pretty sure have fur and your son could be allergic to him but you should get it determined by a Dr if you haven't already. Depending on how severe his allery is he may develope a tollerance to your dog but have more severe reactions when coming into contact with other dogs. I would talk to your Dr about that though. That is just my own experience with pet allergies.

Good Luck! I know it can be very difficult to have your kids be allergic to your pets!! :(

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T.P.

answers from Minneapolis on

I have to agree with Anne-marie. I'm also allergic and no matter the shots, pills or treatments, it's miserable. I lived with pets while being allergic and although I wasn't visibly or even noticably sick (because you do sort of just get used to it), looking back I realized I was catching colds and other illnesses all the time because my immunity was trying to fight off the allergy all the time. It can be really draining.

I am also a pet-lover, but if it were me, I'd strongly consider a new, loving home for the animals. I know it's heartbreaking. When I was diagnosed as a kid, we had to give our cat and dog away, too. But, kids come first.

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H.H.

answers from Milwaukee on

Hi H.,

I have been allergic to cats since my teens. Of course my sons would love one! However, I found a product which now keeps my allergies under control and it is safe for everyone to take. My boys know this and are now trying to convince me to get a cat. We'll see. Anyway, this may be an answer for your son so the poor dogs don't have to be bald. Just e:mail me at [email protected]____.com if you'd like to hear more. Blessings,
H. H.

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M.H.

answers from Rapid City on

I have to agree with others, over shampooing and shaving will not help your son, but will make your dogs miserable. They should not be bathed more than once a month, or their skin can get terribly dry and itchy and produce more dander. Shaving the chow could result in the dog getting sunburned.

Things that will help include removing carpets, reducing the amount of upholstery in the house (excessive curtains, throw pillows), getting allergen filters for the furnace and changing them often, or using an air filtering machine, grooming the dogs frequently outdoors, keeping the dogs out of your son's room, keeping them off all furniture, using a dust "grabber" type of duster (such as a swiffer duster) rather than something that just disturbs the dust (such as a feather duster) and a change in the dogs' diet can make a world of difference. Changing the diet can often greatly reduce the amount of fur and dander that is shed.

Whatever you do, don't fall for the "non-allergenic dog breed" hype. Some individual dogs may produce less dander or shed less hair, but there are no breeds (or cross-breeds) that are 100% non-allergenic.

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A.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

I had my kids tested and the skin scratch test determined they were allergic to dogs but they never had any reactions when we were at people's homes with dogs so I asked my allergist (I have environmental allergies so bad I get shots) and they said dog and cat scratch tests can heed false positives and the test is to see if the child actually reacts around animals. That being said, having had allergies for over 35 years, it is MISERABLE and anything you can do to alleviate symptoms should be done, including finding a loving home for your dogs. I know how horrible this will be for you, I have had dogs my whole life, but sentencing your child to a lifetime-long cold, which is what it feels like, with itchy eyes, headaches, the works, is not fair to him. (by the way, my kids, who tested positive for dog allergies, have been living with my two dogs for five years now and have never had a reaction, ever. - find a good pediatric allergist that knows about the animal false positives and see what that person thinks.)

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D.M.

answers from Minneapolis on

I have several allergies, and am being treated successfully with drops I put under my tongue 3 times daily.

I do drive to LaCrosse, WI to see my allergist. They do extensive testing there and then make up the drops on site. And they are one of the leading clinics for allergy drops in the country, and respected world-wide. I know they also work with children, even as young as yours.

Here's a link to them: www.allergychoices.com

Hope this helps. The testing could be a little scary to him, but doing drops is so much nice than shots. And it's really helping.

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L.D.

answers from Minneapolis on

Before you shave the dogs, go to the vet. Make sure that the allergen is actually in the dander. A lot of people are allergic to the saliva, so shaving won't make a difference.

A little about me. I was diagnosed as being allergic to dogs, cats, and a whole slew of other critters when I was very young. However, my mother continued to raise and breed dogs on a professional kennel. And guess what-- I grew OUT of my allergies because of all that early exposure! I can't thank her enough. Otherwise, I couldn't have the wonderful pets I have today.

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L.M.

answers from Madison on

Hi H. -- When my daughter was 4 she developed unbearable allergic symptoms, so her doctor referred her to a pediatric allergy specialist who gave her all the scratch tests for all the allergens and determined that she was allergic to all kinds of seasonal, environmental stuff. He recommended allergy shots as the surest, most permanent way to deal with the problem. She couldn't start them til her seasonal symptoms weren't quite so bad and I don't remember what we did for her during the interim (this was 30 years ago!) but she took the shots for three years and has never been bothered again. (Since she was getting shots, I decided to get them at the same time to treat my seasonal allergies, which were lousy but not in the same ballpark as my daughter's. I had to take the shots one year longer than she did, but I've never had symptoms since and my immunity to contagious illnesses is very much improved.) I don't know at what age a child can receive allergy shots, but I would certainly ask your allergist about them. They are a nuisance to get, but for both of us they have been real life improvers for over 30 years now!

Of course that doesn't speak to animal allergies, but if a specialist told me shots for animal allergies were as effective as those for environmental allergens, I'd take them in a heartbeat. (If I needed them, which, mercifully, I don't.) It also doesn't speak to treating a 9-month-old, but if he's too young at least keep the idea in the back of your mind!

Good luck to you all!

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A.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

Was he tested? I ask because you should then know how big of a reaction he had and that may help you determine your course of action.

I am allergic to both cats and dogs, several foods, and most environmental allergens (pollen, mold, etc.) and I have a great allergist!

You should NOT shave or cut their fur because this will only expose the dander more. I actually react much less, if at all, to long haired cats and dogs. I also react much worse to cats (I am "more" allergic)

And also I would hesitate shampooing them more often as this may also cause in increase of dander due to their skin getting drier from repeated shampooing.

If I were you I would get him tested, if you haven't already to get a baseline. The reason I say this is because if he has other allergies this will affect how well he can deal with the dog. For example, if I am around a long-haired cat during the winter when my seasonal allergies aren't acting up, I do not react as quickly nor as strongly to the cat because my body is only dealing with one allergen. If it is prime summer time and I am around a cat/dog my reaction is a lot worse because my body can't handle it all.

A lot of people think that if you have an allergy that you always react the same and react strongly, which is not true. I am allergic to egg whites and some days I can eat a whole egg and nothing happens, sometimes I can eat a cookie that has egg in it and I react horribly and want to die.

If you really, really want to keep your pets I would recommend that you get rid of any carpet/rugs that you have. Vacuuming and especially shampooing can actually make his allergies worse. If you do have carpet and can't get rid of it, then invest in a good vacuum!! And only "dry shampoo" your carpets. Don't let the dogs in his room or near anything he sleeps on, ever! The bedroom should be a pet-free zone. You can even invest in a air cleaner to use in his bedroom at night. Make sure the dogs are brushed outdoors every day and you can even vacuum your dogs afterwards (if they will let you). Make sure he washes his hands after playing with the dogs, or being licked by one. Wash and vacuum your curtains regularly, etc. I would also check into zyrtec or something similar for him or allergy injections, if he is old enough for that.

I'm sorry if this is confusing....but there is so much info and so little time for me to write it. Please email me if you want to talk more about it.

And we have two dogs by the way :)

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C.L.

answers from Minneapolis on

I typed a long response, but then lost it because my computer froze up. The abridged version is that our son tested positive for a dog allergy when he was 2 and we ended up keeping our dogs. He is now 12 and they are all doing fine (except the dogs are now 14 and 16). I think whether you keep the dogs really depends on the severity of the allergy and the type of reaction your son has. Our son never had a visible reaction (no wheezing, itchy, watery eyes, etc.) other than a mild irritation on his skin from their saliva. If he was uncomfortable or had a serious reaction our decision probably would have been different. We installed a central vac with the canister in the garage and we keep the dogs out of our son's room. His bedroom door is always closed and they are not allowed in. He wears clean pajamas to bed every night. As other posters have said, shaving your dogs won't help and there is no such thing as a completely non-allergenic dog. Good luck--I know it's a tough decision. Feel free to send me a message if you want more details about our situation and decision-making process.

One more thing--if you do end up getting another home for the dogs it takes 6 months to a year to get all of the dander out of your house. You may not notice an immediate or drastic improvement in your son if he is having symptoms until all of the dander is gone. It can help to have the carpets cleaned and walls and upholstery washed. Hard surface floors are always better than carpets.

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R.B.

answers from Duluth on

Did you actually have him tested by a blood test? Cuz it could just be the "Spring" allergies.

K.C.

answers from Davenport on

Please, please, please do not shave your dogs or bath them overly much! It is a harmful thing do to your pets, removing natural fur cover eliminates their ability to cool and warm themselves and eventually causes problems with their skin as it will get sunburned quite easily, plus it adds more dander to your furniture, same with over washing, it will cause your pets skin to dry and flake and they will have skin problems, which won't help your son in the least. (My best friend is a dog groomer and I've heard her rant on this many times) Take your son to an allergist, get him officially tested and start him on allergy shots.

About the only things you can do at home is to keep the pets out of his room, vacuum often (especially when he is out of the house, 2 hours before he gets home as that gives the dust time to settle....vacuuming does stir things up!) brush your pets often, and keep the sticky roller tape around to clean off furniture every few days....maybe even throw a sheet over the furniture that can be moved when you son wants to sit there and make sure he washes his hands after any handling of the dogs (so he won't touch his face and breath in the dander)....all of these things will help....I am allergic to both my pets as well (sinus allergies, so I have year 'round problems) and these are the things that help me keep my 'babies', Shelby a german shepard, and Sylvester our long hair cat, with me and makes life with them, health wise, bearable. Good luck to ya hun!

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D.G.

answers from Minneapolis on

H. - I just learned about an air filter system that might be able to help you. It's certified by NASA. They have different sizes and aren't very expensive. I think they'll even let you try it for a few days. One of their systems was featured on Montel Williams show. Check out their website - www.metroairandwater.com. His name is Bob Andrews and he is very helpful.

Good luck,

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S.G.

answers from Rapid City on

Dander is a big problem for allergies. It might help alot if you take the carpet out of your sons bedroom and put in flooring and area rugs that will be able to be cleaned easier. Keep the dogs out of his room and vaccumn the family room carpet before putting him down. Once he is walking and not so close to the floor it will be better. There is drops or shots that will help fight against the allergy so go to the allergist. Good luck.

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