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ALLERGIES AND DOG OWNERSHIP

Your dog should bring a smile to your face but not a tickle to your throat. Every year owners are forced to give up beloved pets because they or a family member suffer from pet-related allergies. So before you bring a dog home, make sure he won't cause a flair-up.

How to Tell If You're Allergic
Even if you've owned other dogs without trouble, don't assume you're allergy-free. And keep in mind that some reactions are cumulative; it can take weeks for the allergen level to increase in your home enough to affect a susceptible family member. One test: Take your entire family to visit potential pets in their current homes, where there are plenty of allergens hanging around.

People experience allergic reactions to dog fur and dander. But in most cases, it's not the dogs hair that triggers the allergy, but a protein in the dogs saliva. People with allergic reactions can get itchy and swollen eyes, congested sinuses, coughing, and asthma. Bathing your dog frequently can decrease the severity of your allergy symptoms, but it usually doesn't eliminate them.

Dog Breeds for Allergic Owners
Just because your eyes itch when youre around the neighbors dog doesn't mean you can't find one of your own to love. Many people find breeds that don't cause an allergic reaction for them. Discuss your options with your doctor and a veterinarian.

People who are allergic to dog fur may have luck with low-shedding breeds such as bichons frises; poodles; and some terriers, including cairn, Kerry blue, and Norfolk. If you're allergic to dander or saliva, however, you could have an allergic reaction to any breed.

Unfortunately, the only true test is trial and error. If you're dead set on having a dog, you may need to endure a few stuffy noses before you find a pet you can live with.

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