Dog allergies are becoming increasingly common, along with seasonal allergies such as hayfever. Unfortunately this means that for those with allergies, owning a dog may well seem impossible, which for many is quite sad. However, just because you suffer from allergies doesn't mean you can't enjoy the companionship of a dog, it just means you have to manage your environment a lot more carefully than non-allergy sufferers.

Firstly, it is good to understand what causes your dog allergy. Dog allergies are caused by your immune system being over-sensitive towards harmless proteins and over reacting to them. Proteins can be found in dogs shed skin cells, called dander and also in their urine and saliva. A reaction to this protein will cause a runny nose and watery, sometimes puffy eyes and may also cause skin welts or wheezing - if you also suffer from asthma it could well trigger an asthma attack.

Some breeds of dogs seem to trigger allergies more than others, and while this hasn't been thoroughly researched, many people with allergies have found they are able to share their home with certain breeds of dog. You may well notice that if you are at a friends or family members home and they have dogs, you react with different levels of severity to them, it might even be the case you know someone with a dog that doesn't trigger your dog allergy, in which case this would be your perfect breed!

The main trick to minimising allergic reactions is to minimise the amount of allergens that are present in your home. Start off by making sure you have one dog-free room in the house, preferably your bedroom, so you can sleep in an allergen free environment. If you can, keep the whole of the upstairs of the house dog-free. This can easily be done with a child gate across the bottom of the stairs to stop your dog wandering up there. It is inevitable that your dogs dander will spread throughout the house naturally, but this can be controlled with regular hoovering, and preferably not allowing your dog on the furniture. Carpets harbour all sorts of dust and dirt, so if you have carpets you will have to hoover them at least once a week. For someone with allergies, the ideal floor coverings are hard, such as laminate or tiles, as there is no long-term build up of dust and they are easy to keep clean. Lastly, be sure to wash your hands after petting your dog, as it is all too easy to absent mindedly touch your face or eyes after stroking your dog and this will allow a direct link of dander to you.

Of course if you find your allergic reactions to dogs are too severe to think about owning one, and makes it difficult for you to visit houses that have dogs, then your best course of action is to take anti-histamines before you visit a house where you know they have dogs, to try and minimise your reaction to them. This way you can take back some control from your allergy.