Best allergy medicine to take for allergy to dogs?
October 24, 2006 4:00 PM   Subscribe

What is the best allergy medicine (prescription or over the counter) for allergies to dogs or cats? So many seem more geared towards allergies to mold, dust, hayfever, etc.

I need a new medicine for when I go home to my moms-- she has a dog and my sister will be bringing her dog home as well. I can tolerate my mom's dog fairly well (one of those less allergy inflicting type dogs), but my sister's is not and I literally get ill (sneezing, very very itchy eyes, throat, running nose, etc.)

I make sure to sit on non fabric chairs that do not hold the dander and we run a hepa filter when I am home-- so what meds should I take (I currently double dose Claritin D and use eye drops as symptoms occur.)?

Any other techniques I should try, short of going to an allergist?
posted by psususe to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I am terribly allergic to dogs and cats and I have pretty good results using loratadine. That's the generic name for Clartin. I go for the generic because it's much cheaper for the same drug.

And by "pretty good results" I mean that I can endure several hours before the allergies start acting up. After a few hours however, the symptoms start kicking in.
posted by jclovebrew at 4:03 PM on October 24, 2006

Lotradine's clinical effectiveness level is supposedly 40 mg according to a pharmaceutical salesman that I know. Over the counter strength is 10mg. Take that as you will.

Allegra-D works great for me, but it's prescription-only and not covered by many insurance programs. (Thank god it's covered under mine, as it's the only thing that works for me...)
posted by SpecialK at 4:07 PM on October 24, 2006

I have similar problems. Allegra always worked better than Claritin for me, but it's prescription, so I generally default to Claritin. If your allergies are really severe, you may want to see a doctor. People react differently to different medications, and there may be a prescription drug that works better than Claritin for you.
posted by gnutron at 4:08 PM on October 24, 2006

Claritin does literally nothing for my animal allergies. Neither does Allegra. The only things that have really worked for me were Flonase and Rhinocort. I think they're in the same class of drugs. They're both prescription, and I think they both have to be taken for a certain period of time to be effective. If your allergies are really that severe, then it might be worth it for you to plan ahead and start taking them before you go.
posted by Mavri at 4:16 PM on October 24, 2006

Never tried Allegra but Claritin 24-hour works wonders for me when we visit the cat-loving in-laws.
posted by Brittanie at 4:25 PM on October 24, 2006

I'm not sure that any allergy medicine is better or worse at solving symptoms caused by different triggers. They block the body's response to contact with allergens, which would be the same no matter what kind of allergen it is. Some people are more or less sensitive to different allergens though. Personally I'm more allergic to animals than I am to dust or pollen (although I'm allergic to all of those things!)

Also, different people find different medicines work better for them. Personally, claritin/loratidine or zirtek work just fine for me, but that's not going to be true for everyone. Regardless of the medicine you choose, pick one with 24 hour coverage, and start taking it every day for the week leading up to your visit, as well as every day while you are there. This will allow your body to build up some resistance, by already having the medicine in your system. Be aware that coverage may taper off towards the end of the 24 hours, so if you get to sleep in a room where the dogs don't have access, then take the tablet first thing in the morning, so its most active all day (I find its effectiveness tapers off during the 24 hrs).

Also, note if the medicine you choose will make you drowsy. This is another advantage to taking it in the week beforehand, you can make sure it doesn't have drowsy side-effects on you. You can also help things a little by trying to minimise petting the dogs, not allowing them into the room where you sleep, and washing your hands after touching the dogs (so you don't transfer to your face). If things get bad, you can safely take a double-dose of the medication (but no more than 2x regular dose), but this will likely make you drowsy, so don't drive.

Good luck fellow allergy sufferer! :)
posted by Joh at 4:39 PM on October 24, 2006

Also, nasal steroids worked wonders for me, but they are prescription-only, and take several weeks to begin working. So if you want to go that route, better talk to your doctor well in advance of the visit.
posted by Joh at 4:41 PM on October 24, 2006


I have been a sufferer of terrible allergies since I was a small kid. In my life, I was always "that" kid who couldn't participate because of my allergies. I can NOT emphasize how much this stuff has improved my quality of life. And I promise you, I am NOT one to choose a prescription option easily, and have tried everything else from allergists to homeopathy. There are no side effects, and I have had not a single symptom in over two years!
posted by sneakyalien at 4:49 PM on October 24, 2006

posted by thirteenkiller at 6:04 PM on October 24, 2006

I go with a cocktail of Optivar (eye drops), Nasonex (nasal steroid), and Zyrtec. I take the Zyrtec at night because it makes me sleepy, plus it keeps me from waking up with serious issues. Zyrtec is known as the strongest prescription allergy med there is, followed by Allegra.

I have cats that I'm allergic to, and this regimen keeps me sane.
posted by TG_Plackenfatz at 6:28 PM on October 24, 2006

if I have to use OTC... Claritin (get the good stuff. You now have to buy it from the pharmacy with ID). and Sinex 12 hour nasal spray.
posted by nimsey lou at 7:13 PM on October 24, 2006

You might look into allerpet for the dogs, especially your sister's. It's available at pet supply stores (call the store first to make sure they have it). It would be best if your sister used it before bringing the dog over, and daily during the stay. I know this isn't what you asked, but it could be helpful.

Of course I hope the dog gets bathed, too...
posted by amtho at 7:56 PM on October 24, 2006

Man, you guys are really new school. All those wacky wackys have never worked for me, a lifelong allergy sufferer. Yup, tried them all. What do I always come back to? The good ol' pals Benadryl, Chlortrimaton, even Sudafed sometimes... It just sort of depends on what's working for me then. It seems to change every few years, and right now Benadryl is doing me quite nicely. Oh, yeah, I get a touch droopy, but it's not like I'm totally all there when I've got the allergies, anyway.

This is just to say that what will work for you will require some experimentation, and leave yourself open to those older drugs.
posted by incessant at 12:42 AM on October 25, 2006

We have cats.
One of our good friends, who is deathly allergic to the cats, swears by his hit of Benadryl he takes right before coming over.
Both Flonase and Claritin have had positive reviews from him as well.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:18 AM on October 25, 2006

Zyrtec, zyrtec, zyrtec! I am extremely allergic to cats and take zyrtec religiously (same time every day). With it, I am able to live with the greatest cat in the world, who likes to sleep on my fiance's heat. Note that it loses some effectiveness when combined with massive amounts of alcohol.
posted by elvissa at 6:11 AM on October 25, 2006

My wife was taking Singulair for a while and it seemed to help her severe cat allergy. Meaning she could visit friends with cats for about an hour instead of not at all. Another friend is also taking Singulair for his dog allergy. His wife really wanted a dog and he is allergic. They fostered a dog and he was still allergic (even to a poodle!) and so he went on Singulair and they have kept the dog. He still has minor allergic reactions, but he says they are quite manageable.
posted by terrapin at 6:27 AM on October 25, 2006

I'm allergic to cats and yet have two of the nasty little creatures (which I love, worse luck for me). Both allegra and zyrtec have worked magically; allegra's available in a generic now (fexofenadine), which makes it cheaper if you have insurance issues. Benadryl's incredibly effective, but makes me pass out.

For the itchy eyes, both Patanol and Elestat are wonderful. My optometrist gave me samples of both, and the tiny sample bottles actually last for a while.
posted by paleography at 9:56 AM on October 25, 2006

I am alergic to cats. Nothing helps at all. My neighbor is also alergic to cats, and he has a couple of those litle pains. He takes allergy shots of some kind. Says it helps.

My SO a long time ago convinced me to get cats. What was I thinking. We got cats, and the allergy to those particular cats subsided after a couple of months - to the point that I was not allergic to them at all, but I was still really allergic to other cats.

Something in the urine, I think. And something about male cats makes it worse. I think they have a gland or something on their ass that secretes cat-allergy juice.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 11:18 AM on October 25, 2006

For what it is worth, my partner is allergic to my dog. When I keep him well-brushed, she can touch him without too many problems. If I let the grooming slide, she starts to have major problems.
posted by QIbHom at 2:53 PM on October 25, 2006

My favorite combination is Zyrtec and Nasonex. Claritin is helpful sometimes but not when my allergies are at their worst. I really have found that adding a nasal spray (nasonex, nasocort, beconase, flonase...they're all pretty much the same) makes a big difference as opposed to taking the Zyrtec alone. (I am partial to nasonex because it now comes in a scent-free formula.)

I've known people who have had good luck with Singulair combined with Astelin (this nasal spray is different from most of the others). I however couldn't tolerate the Astelin...smell/taste factor made me very sick.
posted by crockettc at 9:16 PM on November 1, 2006

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