This article, first printed in the North Forty News, is reprinted with permission of the Publisher,JoAn Bjarko.)
There's help for dog-loving allergy sufferers
By Marty Metzger
Some dog breeds are nothing to sneeze at. These hypoallergenic pooches are a welcome sight for those dog lovers whose reddened eyes tear up at the mere mention of dog dander.
In addition, if you or a family member have developed a hypersensitivity to a current pet, there are several ways to alleviate that allergy misery.
According to Sarah Yokem of the Allergy & Asthma Clinic, some of the symptoms are localized hives (urticaria), increased mucous production, sneezing, nasal congestion, itchy eyes and asthma. People can have sensitivity to dander or hair or both. Sufferers should feel free to blame Great-Grandma Alice because allergies are often hereditary.
Yokem said that simple environmental controls, such as barring the dog from the bedroom while you're sleeping, can minimize problems.
Medical intervention ranges from antihistamines or nasal steroids to a series of shots. These injections are administered for a set block of time, such as three years, after which retesting is done. "Immunotherapy can permanently build immunity," said Yokem. "A person can also gradually develop immunity to their own pets."
Environmental controls are especially important during winter months, when pets spend more time indoors. Many modern houses are sealed up as tight as Fort Knox. Furnace vents continuously blow dander and hair into the red, weepy eyes and inflamed lungs and nasal passages of allergy sufferers.
Jody Hahn-Pennington of Hahn Plumbing said HEPA filters and electrostatic filters are highly effective in controlling dust mites and pet dander. HEPA is an acronym for "high efficiency particulate air filter." Electrostatic units employ static to pull microorganisms out of the air.
Fairly new nanotechnology, said Hahn-Pennington, is used in ultraviolet, light-operated, air cleaning systems, which zap the air with UV light, thereby killing bacteria and certain germs. "We've never installed one yet," she said, "but I think there's definitely going to be more interest."
Another way to relieve allergy symptoms is frequent dog grooming and bathing. Patricia Young-Buckert of Dog's on the Go cautioned, however, that excessive bathing is hard on dogs. Even once a week can be too often, said Young-Buckert. But, she added, using a mild shampoo formulated specifically for dogs (not humans) with the proper pH can help prevent stripping oil out of the coat and skin. She also mentioned that one client quite frequently changed furnace filters to diminish allergy symptoms.
If you're planning to add a new dog to your household and prefer a hypoallergenic breed, be aware that there's no such thing as a nonallergenic dog. Hypo means less, not none.
With that definition in mind, two coat types - single-coated and hairless --are touted to produce lesser amounts of allergens. Some single-coated breeds are the Poodle, Schnauzer, Bichon Frise, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Portuguese Water Dog, West Highland White Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Bedlington Terrier and Labradoodle.(Editor's note: The Labradoodle is not an AKC recognized breed.)
Hairless canine breeds include the American Hairless Terrier, Mexican Hairless, Chinese Crested and Peruvian Inca Orchid.
Selecting from "sneeze and wheeze less" breeds still gives dog lovers much to choose from. Size, build, gait, color, coat texture and temperament vary widely from energetic terriers to the unique, conversation-starter appearance of the Chinese Crested, to the cheery, white fluff-ball Bichon Frise.
To learn more about hypoallergenic breeds, research online, contact reputable breeders through the American Kennel Club or peruse local library shelves. AKC web site, FAQ About Allergies, includes photos of recommended breeds.
Groomers and veterinarians can also provide useful information.
The combination of various allergy relief methods and hypoallergenic breeds available is great news for people who might otherwise sadly delete dogs from their homes and lives.
Last Updated: 12/05/2006, 6:54 pm