save me from possible death by puppy
September 2, 2012 8:35 AM   Subscribe

Help! I think I'm badly allergic to my new puppy.

New puppy! He is adorable and I love him to bits, even when he poops under the couch! (He was so proud of himself, omg.) But everywhere he touches my skin or licks me, I break out into hives.

It was a mild irritation at first, and one that went away when I washed with a mild soap. But it's getting worse and worse, and new hives are appearing on top of old ones. Washing the licky touchy parts isn't doing much and allergy pills don't seem to be having any effect.

I thought maybe it was from his food - I'm feeding him taste of the wild prairie puppy formula (he loves it and has no digestive issues with it) but I read the ingredients and there is some fish meal in it (I am pretty allergic to all seafood). Thus far some super unscientific experimentation (I taped some wet, mashed-up dog food to a hive-free section of the inside of my arm for 2 hours) has not shown any concrete proof that the food is the culprit.

I also thought it might be from ragweed on his coat, and he's been carefully (and hilariously) bathed with gentle puppy shampoo, and all his toys and blankies washed with hypoallergenic soap. So far no success.

Is there anything else I might be missing? Or am I just allergic to my new little huggy squeezy most precious puppy? Even as I write this the hives are spreading up my neck in a very alarming fashion, which is making me a little nervous. I no longer keep an epi-pen in the house because I don't make a habit of cuddling shellfish or bees, dammit.

(photo requirement fulfilled!)

N.B. I have owned dogs before and never had an allergy issue with them, though I am allergic to cats (sneezing and eye issues and hives). No cats were present in the dog's household prior to me getting him.
posted by elizardbits to Pets & Animals (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What "allergy pills" are you taking? Some take time (days or weeks of continued use) to have full effect, like Claritin. If you haven't already, try taking a Benadryl (which will also make you super sleepy, most likely), which should have a much more immediate effect on your current hives

That's just a temporary solution, though. Hopefully someone has good long-term advice for hive-free cuddles with that cutie!
posted by dayintoday at 8:40 AM on September 2, 2012

Response by poster: I'm taking Zyrtec, which I take anyway for my regular seasonal allergies. I can't take Claritin, unfortunately. Took a Benadryl last night in hopes that the itching would stop long enough to let me fall asleep. :/
posted by elizardbits at 8:44 AM on September 2, 2012

I'm also allergic to my puppy!

I knew I was allergic to dogs before I got him, and went to an allergist to see how allergic. (The answer? Quite allergic!) I'm also allergic to just about everything else, indoors and out, so I figured it wasn't worth depriving myself of awesome puppiness unless I'm going to go all out and just live in a bubble for the rest of my life.

I'm on Singulair and generic OTC claritin (loratadine) every day.

I get hives...not as bad as yours, it sounds like, and they go away after several minutes of not being all up in the puppy. Good news: they have gotten better with time. I don't get the hives as much today as I did when I first brought him home (approximately 2.5 months ago). I think my body is slowly, slowly getting used to him. The drugs help with my being able to breathe out both nostrils.

To combat the puppy allergicness, my dog gets very frequent baths. Probably averaging out to about 1.5 a week. (I use gentle puppy shampoo and conditioner so he doesn't get demoisturized. He seems just fine with the bathing schedule.) I try to taperoller his fur off of my couch and other things he furrs on pretty frequently. I wash his toys and blankets about once a week with good dose of bleach. I change my sheets often (he sleeps in bed with me which I realize is kind of stupid because I'm allergic to him but he's just so cuddly. I rinse off his feet every time we come in from outside, and if he rolls around in the grass, he gets a bath (to cut down on him bringing in outdoor allergens).

So...I do a lot to mitigate the damage, but overall I think it is getting better.

I would recommend getting yourself to an allergist if you've not been before or recently to see if s/he recommends a prescription somethingorother to work in tandem with your Zyrtec. The Singulair has made a huge, huge difference for me (not just with the dog), and you might find something that similarly helps you.

Good luck! Your little squirt is adorable.
posted by phunniemee at 9:00 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Could you be allergic to the puppy shampoo? Or sensitive to it in some way that is exaggerating your initial sensitivity to the [omg kissysmoochy!] puppy?
posted by SuperSquirrel at 9:14 AM on September 2, 2012

I have been allergic to dogs all my life and I've had more than one puppy. Probably the major thin that's getting you is the saliva. Puppys like and bite a lot and I've found that I'm much much more likely to welt or hive from slobber than just petting fur. So try to wash your hand and arms every time you deal with it.
Give him a bath. I also tried Allerpet wipes for my first cats but I really couldn't tell a noticable difference.
Get to an allergist and try to get them to give you nasonex or Flonase to pair with the Zyrtec, which is way better at managing pet allergies than claritin.
Good luck
posted by teleri025 at 9:16 AM on September 2, 2012

Can you tape a bit of fur to your skin, and also, uh, a bit of dog spit? Just to try and identify which part might be triggering. This will be info that will help your allergist, which you should absolutely go see, because puppy!
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:37 AM on September 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

My daughter and nieces are allergic to dogs and cats. The allergist said "dander" and even if we got rid of such animals, the dander was already in the household. I had a friend who would come over and if he petted my cat and touched his eye, instant swelling. So that leads me to wonder if this puppy breed has a dander issue that's similar to your cat allergy. Could it be as simple as washing him in a dandruff shampoo?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 1:22 PM on September 2, 2012

This is a long shot, but my sister is allergic (hives) to kittens but has never had a reaction to a grown cat. Maybe this is something that will fade as the puppy gets older, since you've never had a reaction to dogs before?
posted by Cocodrillo at 1:51 PM on September 2, 2012

Hi, yes, you are allergic to your dog, very much so. You sound as allergic as I am so it'll probably progress to acute asthma with difficulty breathing. I've never been able to control my dog allergy for longer than 4-5 hours, even with the prescription nose sprays and pills.

The main thing that makes this different than just dander is you're also allergic to dog saliva, meaning pretty much everything about the dog causes you to react. Are you also allergic to horses?
posted by fiercekitten at 2:22 PM on September 2, 2012

Response by poster: Are you also allergic to horses?

I've never been licked a bunch by a horse but I've been around them with no issues in the past. I've also owned other dogs in the past with no problems.

I already have asthma so I definitely hope this doesn't get worse than it already is. :(
posted by elizardbits at 2:39 PM on September 2, 2012

I lived with a cat that I loved but was very allergic to for several years. There are two major things that you can do to make things better:

1. Short term: Vacuum and dust like it's your job. Think about buying a specific pet vacuum like this one. Take extra care around the places where you sit and sleep. Keep the dog out of your bedroom, and wash your hands immediately after you pet him.

2. Long term: Go see an allergist. They will tell you to get rid of the dog, but they will also start giving you shots to slowly immunize you against your allergy. It's kind of a pain to get the shots, but it does work.

In the meantime, zyrtec seems to be the best solution (in my experience). You need to take it every day to be most effective. I also like to keep some liquid Benedryl and allergy eye drops on hand for really bad nights. People that don't love pets might think you're nuts, but you can make it work. I know you can do it!
posted by elvissa at 9:35 PM on September 2, 2012

One thing people seem to be confused about: dander is largely from the saliva. Small, light, sticky glycoproteins in the spit and dead skin that fly around and get everywhere and are difficult to remove. So wash your dog for sure but it's not as easy as just avoiding fur or whatever.

Otherwise yeah, you sound really allergic. Your allergies may fade but they may also accelerate really quickly, it's impossible to know which way they will go (and so far the reaction seems to be getting worse). At the very least you should get another epi-pen into the house while you work with a doctor to figure out what the exact allergy is and the best way to deal with it.
posted by shelleycat at 12:58 AM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Since you have a shellfish allergy, sinusitis (I assume from the Zyrtec) and asthma, I have a speculative and maybe somewhat outré answer for you.

I wonder if you could be reacting to chitin from Demodex mites which are endemic in dogs, and especially numerous on puppies:
Localized demodectic mange is considered a common puppyhood ailment, with roughly 90% of cases resolving on their own with no treatment.
Chitin is present in the eggs, larvae, and exoskeletons of Demodex mites and can also cause asthma and shellfish allergies:
The beetle's back and the crab's shell owe their toughness to a common compound called chitin that now appears to trigger airway inflammation and possibly asthma, UCSF scientists have found.
Humans with sinusitis that resists surgical treatment can have up to 250 times as much of an enzyme which degrades chitin as those in whom surgery is successful.

Some breeds are much more likely to have mite problems, and I'm sure your vet could tell you if your puppy has unusual levels of parasites and treat him if necessary.

Overgrowth of the species of Demodex mites peculiar to people is getting a lot of recent attention as a possible cause of rosacea, by the way.
posted by jamjam at 5:09 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: update: severe allergic/hives/asthma reaction, emergency room, nebulizer, prednisone, etc.

puppy will be rehomed and i will cry a lot, basically.

posted by elizardbits at 6:35 PM on September 3, 2012

oh no! I came here to recommend trying a prescription for singulair. OTC allergy meds don't work for me, but that stuff does, might be useful for the future if you have to interact with other dogs.

I've had dogs my entire life, but once I hit my mid-20s my dog started giving me the occasional hives. Allergies are weird and terrible things.
posted by inertia at 10:04 AM on September 4, 2012

I am so, so sorry to hear this. I'm sure you'll find a great home for pupsters. Take care of yourself. :(
posted by phunniemee at 10:07 AM on September 4, 2012

« Older Lard t'underin' Jeeezus b'y, is this beef good...   |   How to efficiently cool my house Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.