Allergy Issues
February 9, 2011 2:39 PM   Subscribe

Allergy Question. My new puppy. Help.

I know you are not my doctor, nor my vet. But some insight would be very helpful to me.

I recently got a new puppy. He is wonderful and beautiful. A Beagle.

Growing up I had a Newfoundland dog. And a cat. The cat slept in bed every night. My five siblings all have pets, and dogs. Friends have dogs. I have been around animals many times, and never had an allergic reaction.

I have only had one allergic reaction in my life - to a horse. I was about 26 years old at the time. Since then, I have not had any pets in my own house. I am now 39 years old.

I got my new puppy 4 days ago. Potty training and adjusting to his new surroundings - it has been a little rough, but still happy for both of us.

The last 2 days, I have been feeling a little sick. Maybe I just have gotten a cold, walking him in the early morning. I also haven't gotten a good night sleep with him yet. At night, I have him in a crate (cage) that is in my bedroom near my bed. He is actually very well behaved, but I just haven't slept soundly with him there yet. So, maybe I am just sick and tired.

But, my symptoms have reminded me of the long forgotten allergic reaction to the horse. Itchy neck, runny nose, head-ache. But no itchy eyes, and that was a big part of the reaction to the horse. I know from reading other questions on ask mefi that allergies can just mysteriously start.

My question is this: If I am only mildly allergic to my new puppy, will I build a tolerance? Will it get worse over time?

I admit that I might be just playing a mind game on myself - maybe I just have a cold. But I don't know why this made me think of that experience with the horse. And now, the allergy question is in my head. And this puppy and I are bonding quickly, and I would hate for some allergy problem to develop down the road after we are really bonded together.

Thank you for any thoughts.
posted by Flood to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
Congrats on your puppy! I have allergies, and I have cats, which I am allergic to. I have built a tolerance for them, while still being allergic to other cats I'm not around as much, so it's definitely possible. My allergies as a whole have gotten much more milder as I've gotten older. I would recommend keeping your puppy out of your room, or at least off of your bed at all times to mimimize rubbing your face in dog hair while you sleep, and vacuum frequently with a pet hair vacuum. When my allergies are bad, I use Loratadine, which is a generic, much cheaper Claritin type product that works just fine. Try taking allergy medication for a few days (like Claritin, Zyrtec or Loratadine) to see if it clears up - that should tell you whether it's allergies or something else.
posted by Safiya at 2:45 PM on February 9, 2011

As someone who has suffered from terrible allergies and asthma my whole life, I know that it always takes me 2-3 weeks to build up an immunity before I can reliably not have terrible allergy bouts anymore. After that you're golden!
posted by stranger danger at 2:50 PM on February 9, 2011

I had allergies at first with my dog. I would take a Benedryl before going to bed. I did this for about a week. Then I would only take one before bed if I had a stuffy nose. I do bathe my dog regularly and that still makes a difference. Vacuuming is regularly is good too. After a few weeks, I was fine.

Safiya suggestion about keeping him out of your bedroom is a good idea.

I do sometimes still have reactions if I go to someone's home who has dogs that I haven't been around. My friend who has a cat (and I'm very allergic to cats) keeps Claritin in her medicine cabinet just for me.
posted by shoesietart at 4:05 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had cats and dogs when I was a kid and never experienced allergies. Then I didn't have pets for about 10 years, and when I met random cats during that time I had allergic reactions. Then I shared a house with some people and their cat for a year and after the first three weeks, no more allergies. So in my case at least, I build up a tolerance pretty quickly. If your problem is allergy, hopefully that will work for you too!
posted by lollusc at 4:13 PM on February 9, 2011

I know an unfortunately large amount about being allergic to things. Allergies do what they want when they want if they want. You can control them with drugs or shots, but nothing else is reliable.

If you really want to keep the dog, get allergy shots. I spent 3 years of my life going twice a week to get them. They suck, they work. Drugs also work, you can start with otc drugs see what works for you.

Just wishing them away never seemed to work for me. If three weeks is all it takes for you, you are lucky.
posted by Felex at 4:27 PM on February 9, 2011

Thank you all for your responses. I am greatly re-assured by what you say.

I know that if this is an allergic reaction (which I think it is) it is very minor. If this were a cold, I wouldnt even bother buying cough medicine. So, I feel confident now that I will develop a tolerance for my puppy.

I also appreciate reading that if stiff remedies are necessary, like shots, they do exist.

Thank you all - you have very much put my mind (and my growing affection for my dog) at ease.
posted by Flood at 5:13 PM on February 9, 2011

My boyfriend and I and my cats moved in together about a year and a half ago, and he started having fairly bad allergy symptoms. It took him over a year to get to an allergist (because he's Just That Type, but once I started nagging him about it and pointing out that his snoring was affecting *my* sleep, too, he took the plunge). The doctor thinks it's the cats and put him on Zyrtec and Flonase, and gave him a prescription eyedrop for the (few) times his eyes itch. He's just about perfect now - a major change from the way he was before, which seemed like he had a mild cold that would occasionally flare into major-cold-symptoms if he did something that triggered them, like encountering a bunch of dust.

We also do some basic management - running the Roomba most days to pick up cat hair on the floor, covering the bed with a throw to keep the cat fur off the pillows, sheets, and blankets, and trying to dust the place more often, especially his office, since he works from home.

We have friends who are extremely allergic to cats, too, and before they come over, we vacuum the furniture. We keep intending to do that more often now, but haven't yet.
posted by telophase at 5:21 PM on February 9, 2011

Being allergic to dogs doesn't necessarily mean you can never have a dog. I have a dog (a beagle too!) and I'm allergic to dogs (and cats and pollen and mold, etc.). You could visit an allergist who can give you a test to find out if you're allergic to dogs and the best way to treat your allergies.

Fortunately there are a lot of things you can do to make living with a pet you're allergic to more comfortable. People are usually allergic to pet dander, saliva or both. Besides allergy medications (both prescription and OTC) or shots, things like keeping pets out of the bedroom, vacuuming and dusting often, bathing your pet regularly, avoiding being licked by the pet and using HEPA filters can help. I find a combination of those things, OTC pills and prescription nasal steroids works for me. And frankly, I think it's all worth it to get to share my house with the cutest beagle ever :) Good luck with your new best friend!
posted by geeky at 6:28 PM on February 9, 2011

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