Your precious pooch brings you daily joy, but also coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, and other uncomfortable allergic symptoms. You're not alone: Approximately 15 to 20 percent of Americans suffer from animal allergies, according to the ASPCA. No need to give your furry best friend away, because bathing him every two weeks can help reduce allergens. Regular bathing just might be one of the best home remedies for dog allergies.
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Dog allergy causes
It's not your dog's beautiful fur that's giving you allergic symptoms, but proteins in his urine, saliva, and dander. Dander is dried flakes of skin, which is the cause of most dog allergies. After you inhale the allergens or get them on your skin, your hypersensitive immune system misinterprets them as dangerous invaders, causing inflammation in your nasal passages and lungs.
Symptoms of allergies to dogs can include congestion, sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, sore throat, asthma, and other respiratory conditions — even eczema, rashes, and hives are linked to dog allergies. Dander particles are extremely small and collect in furniture, carpeting, curtains, and clothing. They can also remain airborne for long periods of time. Interestingly, fur length doesn't impact allergens, which is the term for the proteins that cause allergic reactions.
Allergy bath for dogs
An allergy bath for dogs is likely a solution to your allergy problem. Bathing your dog once a week will help keep him fresh and clean, and wash those allergens that are making you sick down the drain. A groomer can recommend a mild shampoo, such as one containing oatmeal, that won't irritate your dog's skin. Incidentally, oatmeal shampoo is also used as a dog rash treatment.
Don't share your own shampoo with your dog. Shampoos for humans have their own specially formulated pH level and use strong detergents that can irritate your dog's sensitive skin. Ask your vet which brand of shampoo is the most effective for removal of allergens. Giving your dog regular baths will also help remove the extra allergens that he collects from the outdoors, such as pollen, which many allergic individuals are also sensitive to.
Grooming tips for dogs
Before bathing your pup, comb out his coat to remove any matted or knotted fur. Carefully follow the directions on the shampoo bottle for the best results; many products recommend leaving the shampoo on the dog's coat for a certain amount of time for better penetration. Begin by gently shampooing your pup's shoulders to help relax him and then move to other areas of his body.
Use a hose or detachable shower head for the most effective soap removal. Avoid bathing your pooch more than once a week. Frequent bathing will strip natural oils from his skin and lead to dryness and flaking, which will increase the amount of dander being released, defeating the purpose of the baths.
Reducing home allergens
Place air cleaners with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters throughout your home to further reduce dog allergens. Vacuum upholstered furniture, carpeting, curtains, and drapes with a machine that also uses a HEPA filter. Regular vacuum cleaners aren't as effective at removing dander and can even keep it circulating in the environment.
If you've been sleeping with your dog, give him his own bed in the bathroom, service porch, or other non-carpeted area and make your bedroom dog-free by keeping the door closed at all times. Many allergies become worse at night, especially asthma and other respiratory disorders. Keep your pooch outdoors as much as possible when the weather allows, unless he's a brachycephalic breed like a bulldog or pug, which can't withstand much variation in temperatures, especially heat.