Allergic to new puppy. Looking for advice / success stories
November 10, 2019 8:09 PM   Subscribe

Hello fellow sufferers. So the title is pretty explanatory. My family wanted a puppy so after a lot of research we identified the breed etc. I (the potentially allergic person) even had a skin allergy test done. The tests came back negative, but the allergist cautioned me and said basically they only test for major proteins and it was possible I was reacting in the real world to proteins that they dont test form.

I met with multiple breeds. In the process of meeting the dogs at different breeders I did feel some allergic symptoms, but I chalked that up to other environmental allergens like pollen etc. We picked the dog based on temperament, non shedding criteria.

Knowing this we decided to go ahead with getting puppy. Of course as soon as we got it home, I started to have symptoms (itchy eyes, nose, mouth, the whole nine yards). My kids of course are already in love and so excited. So far there are hepa filters going, the dog isnt allowed in the bedroom or on furniture. We dont have carpet.

So now I'm real tough spot. Do I tough it out and hope they go away, while my kids get attached? As a side note, antihistamines and I dont do well together. It feels like I'm either on speed or I'm dead asleep. There is no non itchy lucid medium.
posted by burlsube to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
That's rough. Anecdotally, I was allergic to cats as a child (and sometimes still am) but when my family got a cat, I eventually became un-allergic to it. The same thing has happened with subsequent cats, over relatively short periods of time. Somehow I've adjusted and I no longer sneeze, etc. It is possible that it could get better.
posted by pinochiette at 8:18 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

Have you tried other allergy meds? Benadryl makes me sleepy, Claritin rarely does enough, but Flonase (nasal spray) helped a ton. It takes like a week to build up in your system enough to work. Also, anecdotally, I know the OTC versions are supposedly equivalent in strength, but I get it prescribed by my doctor so my insurance will pay for it and when my insurance lapsed for a bit I bought an OTC version and it didn't seem to work as well.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:42 PM on November 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

I am allergic to our puppy. If it came down to one or the other of us going, the family 100% would say goodbye to me. So we: close off the bedroom areas completely, keep her off the other furniture, use an air purifier, have an extravagantly expensive pet vacuum and a vacuum robot runs daily. Also, I don’t let her lick me. That keeps the itchiness way down, but I am resigned to a lifetime of sore throats from post-nasal drip.
posted by gryphonlover at 9:19 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

I know cats are different to dogs but my husband is allergic to cats as well and also adjusted to become unallergic to our two pretty quickly. So maybe after repeated exposure you’ll do the same.
posted by Jubey at 10:04 PM on November 10, 2019

2nd flonase (which is a steroid, I think?) over oral antihistamines like benadyl or claritin. It does take longer to kick in but after a week or so, it's a game-changer.

There are also allergy shots, which my dog-allergic-but-also-a-veterinarian family member uses.
posted by mosst at 10:05 PM on November 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Go see the allergist again and see if you can find a solution or a less reactive antihistamine. Also, taking an antihistamine at night so that you sleep through the side effects can be helpful. You may also be able to get allergy shots to retrain your body’s response.

Also, any chance you’d be willing to pay the puppy photo tax?
posted by quince at 10:08 PM on November 10, 2019 [4 favorites]

If it's your nose that's reacting mostly, try Nasalcrom, which is a mast-cell stabilizing nasal spray. It's amazing and most people seem not to know about it. It's not an antihistamine -- you have to use it regularly and before you start reacting.

Wipe down the puppy every night or morning with a warm washcloth. Actually, get the kids to do it. If y'all do it right, the puppy will probably enjoy it.

Have the kids brush the puppy, outside or in an easy to clean location (bathtub?), every day.

Wipe down furniture frequently.

Get a robot vacuum to keep down dust/dander - look for a used, inexpensive, good one.
posted by amtho at 11:23 PM on November 10, 2019 [3 favorites]

Nthing flonase. It worked way better for me than claritin/zyrtec/etc, and it's a steroid, not an antihistamine, so hopefully you won't have the same issues you do with other antihistamines. It makes a huge difference for me. (I use it mainly to deal with seasonal allergies/dust/mold/etc.)

How long have you had the puppy? When I got my cat a few years back, I was definitely fairly allergic to him. Eyes burning, nose running, etc. However, after awhile, I just go used to him, and now he doesn't trigger my allergies at all. I can't remember how long it took - maybe a few weeks? So as mentioned already, it is possible you'll adjust over time.
posted by litera scripta manet at 2:37 AM on November 11, 2019

Nthing the experience of being allergic to a cat before getting used to it. Not me, a friend, but he has two. It's cats, not dogs though. Hopefully there are dog owners with this experience who can chime in.
posted by schroedinger at 3:09 AM on November 11, 2019

My understanding is cat allergies are more common. But dog ones are maybe more severe and varied?

I'll give Nasalcrom a try and hope I adjust. Seems like a gamble, but I'm not sure what else can be done.
posted by burlsube at 5:14 AM on November 11, 2019

I am allergic to cats, dogs, these things, those things, and other things to boot.

We have 2 cats and two dogs.

I went to an allergist, and currently take fluticasone (flonase), aselastine, and monteleukast (latter two are prescriptions). Sometimes I take an OTC Benadryl at night. The only reaction I get is mild contact dermatitis if the one dog sleeps on my arm.

You should get thee to an allergist, STAT.
posted by notsnot at 5:27 AM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

So I am highly allergic to ALL animals, but especially dogs and cats. If a German Shepard licks me, I will break out into severe hives. But I can't see a life without animals in it. So I went to an allergist. He prescribed Claritin daily, Nasacort/Flonase (I switch them every month), allergy eye drops, and I even did shots for a while. I now very comfortably live with three cats and a dog. Our dog just happens to be a terrier mix with wiry fur, which definitely helps with the allergens. But I went from full-on asthma attacks to being able to live in a house with four animals.

but I'm not sure what else can be done.

posted by cooker girl at 6:41 AM on November 11, 2019 [3 favorites]

I nth the advice of an allergist. I will add that, anecdotally, I had a dog in my house for the first 18 years of my life and I never got over my allergies. However, I did eventually learn that I could minimize those allergies if (a) the dog gets washed at least once a week, (b) the house is obsessively vacuumed, and (c) I wash any exposed parts of my body as soon as the dog licks them.
posted by yankeefog at 6:56 AM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am allergic to most animals with fur. I'm also an unabashed animal lover. I have a dog and a cat who both live inside and times in my life I have showed horses, rabbits, and cattle. I get both contact allergies (hives) and respiratory (sneezing, wheezing, oh my!). I use Flonase twice a day and take Zyrtec. I keep a stash of Benedryl pills and cream laying around in case of emergencies and it's guaranteed that if I get a cold, it will migrate to my lungs and I'll have a wicked cough for a while. I also wash my hands regularly and don't let the dog in the bed. I had allergy shots from age 6 to 21 and they worked really, really well.

First, Flonase is the best thing you'll get. Second, go to an allergist and tell them exactly what side effects you get from the over the counter antihistamines you have tried. Have them work with you to find a daily like Zyrtec that will allow you to build up a resistance to the allergens in your home. Third, have the kids vacuum and clean regularly as part of dog ownership and they have to do it while you're out of the house. If you can get hardwood/laminate floors, I'd strongly suggest it because there are far less places for the allergens to live. Bathe the dog with this and give it a little time. After our previous dog passed, we got a new puppy about three months later. For the first few months, I was way more allergic to the new puppy than I had been to the old dog. Partially because it takes awhile for my system to develop an immunity to the new pet and partially because puppies are needy and take a lot of petting and touching. You have to be extremely diligent about hand washing and not touching your face or nose unless you know for sure they are clean and dog free.

Your kids are already bonded as is the puppy. If you are the kind of person that can suffer through physical discomfort for something you enjoy, then by all means take the suggestions you've been given here and do your best to make it work. If the allergies are beyond what you can stand, then you need to sit down and have a real conversation with your kids about what will happen to the puppy and why. Are you going to send it back to the breeder? Rehome it with family members? You can't just magically disappear the puppy and go back to life before you had it. It's going to suck and they will be heartbroken to lose the dog, but they also need to understand that you have to take into account the needs of others when decisions are made. For me, living with pets is important enough that I put up with never being able to touch my eyes without washing my hands first. But that's me and my decision. Only you know what you can live with.
posted by teleri025 at 7:29 AM on November 11, 2019 [2 favorites]

Are you also allergic to other things like dust and plants? If so, it's possible that you're also reacting to other things the dog is picking up in the environment. If you haven't bathed the new dog, it's also possible that you're reacting to allergens from the dog's foster home like other dogs, etc.

You may want to try regularly bathing the puppy in a de-dander shampoo, and also wiping its paws when it comes inside, with more of a wipedown if there's a lot of rolling around outside.
posted by answergrape at 9:37 AM on November 11, 2019

Just chiming in anecdotally to say that my sister-in-law is one of those people who is highly allergic to dogs but her allergies calm down once her system gets used to the animal. They've been a multiple dog household for years. So apparently it's a thing.

Also wanted to mention that I have found Visine AC to be very effective for itchy allergy eyes. Although I imagine if you go to an allergist as advised above, they may have something even better for you. The OTC stuff might get you through comfortably until your appointment. You might also consider keeping a box of natural baby wipes handy to wipe down your eyes and nose periodically.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:25 PM on November 11, 2019

This thread is full of the success stories you requested, yet in your update you're wondering if allergies to dogs are more severe than allergies to cats and you remain unsure as to what else can be done in your situation. I think you may be in the wrong neck of the virtual woods if you were sorta-hoping for return the puppy, before your children fall even further in love advice.

That said: is there nearby relative who would adopt the dog, or a friendly neighbor who is unlikely to move anytime soon? (A puppy in need of training is a huge ask, though.) Mainly, can you think of some way for the dog to stay in your family's life, without your family having ownership?

I'm also in the see-another-allergist, bathe-wipe-and-brush-the-dog-frequently, wash-your-hands-a-ton, keep-up-with-vacuuming-and-cleaning camp, btw. Consult with a vet about diet possibilities to reduce flaky skin and dander. You did a ton of research, I know, but anyone in the family could have had a surprise reaction to this new addition to the household -- pretend like that's where you are, and start with the allergist. Good luck.
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:58 PM on November 11, 2019

Thanks. I am off to an allergist tomorrow to look into allergy drops. Although my skin test came back negative for dogs, I'm hoping that the allergy drops will help to reduce my allergen load and make it possibly for things to work out. I definitely want this to work, but at the same time I'm not really in the take medication for the rest of the dog's life camp for other health reasons.
posted by burlsube at 5:48 PM on November 11, 2019 [1 favorite]

I'm allergic to lots of animals, cats and dogs included. While I'm like a lot of the people on the internet when it comes to cats I've never been able to be around dogs except my in-laws' cocker spaniel. I'm of the 'hives and anaphylaxis' persuasion so when I have to be around dogs I use antihistamines and a nasal spray. Some dogs really trigger an attack more than others: pugs, basset hounds, and labs are the worst.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:44 PM on November 11, 2019

@fiercekitten - Do you think the tolerance was just because you acclimated to it?
posted by burlsube at 7:30 PM on November 12, 2019

I think so? We got our cats from the humane society so I made sure to audition them to make sure they weren't particularly upsetting to me but still our tabby can cause a reaction if she's shedding or sleeping really close to my face.
There are a couple of cats we didn't adopt because they were too allergenic for me, even when they were still at the shelter.
posted by fiercekitten at 8:15 AM on November 18, 2019

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