Living with dogs: Hallo there I have... - Asthma UK communi...

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Living with dogs

Wheezy54 profile image

Hallo there

I have mild to moderate asthma and recently got a rescue dog.. I suspect I am allergic to her. The effect is not severe though I can tell it is affecting my asthma in subtle ways.I am taking OTC antihistamines and have enquired at my surgery if it's possible to take prescription ones( awaiting reply) . I take peak flow readings everyday. They are remaining consistent and haven't really dropped. Taking other precautions like vacuuming more often etc. She is not allowed to sleep in my bedroom.Some I know will say I should part with her but ultimately she makes me happy and has changed my life in so many ways. I would be devastated to do this. In essence: Is it possible to successfully coexist with a dog and have asthma. I'd be interested to hear about others experiences. Thanks

17 Replies

It's early days so things may develop I suppose but it is possible to have allergy or intolerance issues that do not trigger someone's asthma. So it could be that you're reacting to the dog but it's not affecting your asthma. Sounds like you're doing all the right things though to monitor it which is good - and some people do find things settle once their bodies adjust.

Prescription antihistamine may not be any better - some people find they help but, like with asthma meds, it's personal as to what works best for each person. But always worth a go if they agree to them.

An allergy consultant told me that using a Sinus Rinse like Neilmed daily is a very good way of reducing the allergens getting into the body as they're washed out of the nasal passages twice a day so reducing them getting further and causing issues. So that might be something to look at?

Is their someone else who can brush the dog regularly to reduce dander and hair? They should also ideally do this outside. If you have to do it, could you wear a mask for this task?

I hope things stay ok/improve for you because I'd like you to be able to keep your new friend!

Montelukast may help - it's not for everyone but you'll know if it's working by week 4. It's a prescription medication so you'll need to discuss it with your asthma nurse/doctor.

I have severe allergy to dogs, although I've never lived with dogs. Go figure. I can see how mild asthma can develop into a severe one, due to the constant exposure. With my difficult asthma situation, I have decided not to have any pets, to avoid having to make difficult decisions (even though I love cats, and I am not allergic to them -- yet). I am sure pets can be life-transforming for some, but when asthma is involved, to me the cons outweigh the pros. Plus, guests and visiting relatives can be asthmatic, and the pet would prevent them from visiting.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to runcyclexcski

I don't have a cat for other reasons (where I live; I'm not allergic to them and I don't expect to develop an allergy as I don't have allergic asthma. I was horrified once thinking I had developed an allergy at one point, but I was sleeping in a freshly painted room and it turned out the paint triggered me.)

I think in the case of guests, I wouldn't avoid having a cat on the offchance some guests *might* be allergic - and even if they're asthmatic, that doesn't automatically follow that they're allergic to animals. If they were a very regular visitor and I knew they had asthma or allergies, I'd just ask them ahead of time if they were ok with it (and if they had any other triggers I needed to think about, like peanuts). I'd be delighted to visit a cat and would rather they asked than assume I will be allergic, lock the cat away and then offer me a mango smoothie...

Wheezy54, in terms of your question, I think some people can adapt to animals they live with - so it might be that you can't be around someone else's dog, but you can live with your own; have heard of this happening a few times with pets. Would also agree with Twinkly re having allergy issues that don't necessarily trigger asthma. I have hayfever and take meds for that but it generally doesn't seem to trigger my asthma.

Lysistrata -- for cat-allergic guest, locking a cat would not do much, as the allergens are in the aerosols and in the furniture. Microparticles shed by a pet and left behind on surfaces etc are brought back up in the air easily (like dust mites in carpets) -- and are much more difficult to control (as opposed to peanuts for example which could be kept in a jar). Unless the pet is always locked up in a specific room, and is never allowed to get out. I would not want to treat an animal like this, they do not deserve this. :)

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataCommunity Ambassador in reply to runcyclexcski

I didn't go into that, but I'm aware it's about more than locking the cat away, nor would I want to treat a cat that way.

My point was really that if someone is a frequent (or even occasional) visitor and I know they have allergies and/or asthma, I would want to have a more specific discussion around what triggers them and how I can minimise or remove that trigger, rather than assuming that I need to address one specific allergy in my home 'just in case', when it may not even be an issue for most people who visit.

It's a different discussion with a known allergy and a regular visitor (for example, a partner's parent or child with a cat allergy), but there are all sorts of things someone might be allergic to in a home, and some of them could be as hard to remove as the cat hair. It would be very difficult and a major burden to cater for every possible allergy a very occasional visitor might have, such as doing the level of cleaning on a regular basis and having the type of flooring that's best for someone with dust mite allergies.

If you expect to have guests who you know are likely to have problems with a pet, that's obviously something you need to consider, but your comment came across as a lot more general. I realise that this thread is about pets/pet allergies, but as someone with asthma triggers that are less well recognised by many people, I wanted to flag up the problems with blanket considerations/assumptions about allergies and triggers.

We are all different. I am very allergic to cats and dogs (and other pets). I had to leave a care home where I was working because a dog lived there. I think you will find out soon enough if you can live with the rescue dog. I struggle visiting houses with cats or dogs and staying in hotels, cottages where pets are allowed to visit. People tell me there are hypo allergenic dogs. I am not convinced. Others may have experience of these dogs.

Same here. I am so weary of people saying their dogs are hypoallergenic. There is no such thing; people are allergic to the protein in dog's spit and urine not their fur. It's true some dogs who shed less cause fewer allergic reactions in people with mild allergies but they still produce the same allergens.

I'm not sure we can help as it is up to you how you manage to cope with a dog. I know some people who are mildly allergic to dogs who are prepared to put up with the wheezing in order to keep the pet. You'll just have to see how it goes, I'm afraid!

On paper, I’m highly allergic to dogs but re-homes one 6 years ago. My immunologist was not pleased at all by this but like what you’re already doing, I have always taken extra precautions and also hired a cleaner to help with ensuring dander is under control.

I also take Montelukast at night and Loratadine 4 times a day, as well as my asthma medication.

Fast forward to now and my dog doesn’t irritate my allergies at all (he even sleeps in the big bed with us) but when I’m at peoples houses who aren’t as clean as mine or those with dogs that aren’t regularly groomed, my allergies are instantly triggered, which follows a swift exit.

I guess I’ve developed a new superpower that calls-out my “dirty” friends 😉

Wheezy54 profile image
Wheezy54 in reply to MrsCMK

Hallo there. What is Montelukast please. ThanksX

When my children were small we got a cocker spaniel, lovely little dog. Sadly within only a few weeks I was really struggling with my asthma and the only solution was to get rid of her. Luckily a neighbour took her.Now my eldest daughter decided to get a dog and I thought that we would never be able to stay in their house again. However they did their research and got a border terrier which is supposed to be low allergenic. I find I am not allergic to him at all. I can even stroke him and let him lick me and nothing happens.

I think I am slightly allergic to my pets (2 dogs 1 cat) but I’ve had them for years and have no intention of rehoming them (although I may not get any more in the future). Brushing them outside or on a hard surface and sweeping up straight away (I can’t hoover bc that’s a trigger for me but things should be easier for you if that’s not an issue) and giving the dogs more frequent baths helps. I’m on montelukast but I have also seen a nasal spray in boots aimed at pet allergies which you could try. We also recently got a new low pile rug which doesn’t gather as much hair and we already have a hard floor. I cover my bed with a sheet during the day so that any hairs floating around don’t get in the bed, even though the dogs aren’t allowed in there I still end up with fur everywhere but I’ve found it helps.

Have you tried allergy shots? Those make a world of difference for some people. My allergies are too severe for that but I know they help a lot of people. Also using HEPA vacuums and air purifiers.

Hallo everyoneMany thanks for your kind replies. I've bought a couple of air purifiers. One for my main living room and one for my bedroom. Hoping this helps. I will just have to see how it goes and monitor everything careful. Ultimately I am not a fool and know that if my asthma deteriorates with all these extra guards in place then I will have to give her up. So hey fingers crossed!!! She is such a beautiful girl. I hope I can keep her. Agree also with those posters who say there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. There simply isn't. Wish me luck x

I have severe asthma (I’m on biologics as well as all of the usual stuff!) and have done all of my life. I’ve also lived with dogs most of my life.My asthma changes, sometime I’m good for a couple of years sometimes awful, but the dog remains constant! Hence for me the companionship and countless other benefits I get from my dog outweigh any problems!

I’ve been allergy tested at various times through my life and I’m slightly allergic to dogs but can’t imagine life without one!

Call me bloody minded if you like, I do as much as I can to control my asthma but can’t live life in a sterile bubble!

Good luck with your doggie 🐶

Kath & Gwen 🐾

I am allergic to cats and up until the pandemic struck, I had no issues really living with 2 cats. However, when I started working from home, my allergies flared up big time. To the extent that I had an anaphylactic attack and ended up in hospital twice. However, that was actually attributed to an exercise related wheat allergy,( bizarre, I know) and I ended up taking one 10mg cetirizine every day. This has really really helped. I was very reluctant to go on anti histamines daily but I don’t regret it now. They are very effective.

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