Two small, sad dogs standing on their hind legs and looking out a closed front door.

Pet Allergies: No More "Porridge" or "Candy"

Last updated: August 2022

About 5 years ago, I bought a dog. Some would argue that this decision was an outrageously bad idea. My family certainly did, but I was more hopeful about my decision. The dog, who I named Porridge, was one of these supposedly hypoallergenic breeds: a "Schnoodle," which is a cross between a Miniature Schnauzer and a Poodle.

Feeling hopeful with a hypoallergenic dog

Hypoallergenic breeds are apparently kinder to people suffering from allergies like hay fever and eczema because they do not leave hair everywhere. He was a beautiful dog. Unfortunately, we had to give Porridge back after a couple of months because of his effect on my allergies.

We knew after about a week that this was detrimental to my health, but we had grown so fond of Porridge that we just coped with the allergy symptoms for a while. In the end, my eyes and breathing were worsening, and my skin looked terrible. We had to give Porridge back to the breeder. We were beyond gutted.

My childhood pet allergies

Perhaps I should have known that I would be allergic to Porridge. When I was a kid, we had to give our pet dog, Candy, away. My parents realized that it was probably not a good idea to have Candy around me, and so sadly sold her to another family. My parents could not be sure that I was allergic to Candy, but they did not want to take the chance. As I sit here writing, I am glad they took this action.

It turns out that I am highly allergic to pet hair and dander. There might also be something in the animal's saliva that can irritate people with allergies. According to Mayo Clinic, many proteins found in dogs' saliva can cause allergic reactions.1

Reflecting on childhood visits to family

I remember visiting my aunt and uncle's house in Croydon as a kid, and they had what seemed like a mad, crazy dog called Robbie. He was probably not looked after properly and was quite aggressive. They always locked him away when we went around because of me.

However, this would not stop my eyes from swelling and my wheezing from coming on. I hated going around there. There was a deep stench of tobacco in every room to add insult to injury, but no one knew any better. It was the early 80s, and every house was the same. Or it seemed that way.

If there was one environment that you would not send an asthmatic child into, it was one where there was smoke, pet hair, and dander in the air. It is akin to sending someone with a sneezing allergy into a pepper-filled room and saying, "go have some fun now!"

Managing pet exposure and allergy symptoms

Now, if I visit friends with pets, I make sure to not stay too long and I take antihistamines roughly 20 minutes before I set out, and that kind of gets me through. Sometimes it does not help, and I end up leaving with my eyes streaming, and my breathing felt a little labored, but I can't just go without seeing my friends by avoiding pets altogether.

It is sad to know that people living alone with conditions affected by pets cannot seek comfort and love from a pet without experiencing allergy symptoms. There must surely be a way around this.

I have heard of others taking allergy shots (immunotherapy) or very strong antihistamines to reduce their symptoms. I did try the antihistamines; however, it did not really do the trick for me and my allergies.

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