Allergic to your pet? These tips might help

Suzie Sloan's dogs love their backyard, and Suzie and her husband love their dogs.

"I'm pretty obsessed with them, actually," Sloan laughs.  So much so the dogs have their own Instagram account, @theadventuresofharveyandpete.

"I feel like everything we do, we do with our dogs," Sloan says. "We go hiking. We go for long walks in the city. We go to the dog park."

But a few years back, the Director of Development for the non-profit rescue PAWS Atlanta got tested for allergies to pinpoint what was causing her sinus congestion and sneezing.

"And they said my whole back lit up, including dog and cat dander," she says. 

You heard that right.  Among other things, Sloan is allergic to Pete and Harvey.

 And Decatur allergist Dr. George Gottlieb says pet allergies are one of the top reason patients come to his clinic for allergy shots, because they're sensitive to a protein that dogs and cats produce.

"It's on the the hair," Gottlieb says. "It's on the skin, it's in the saliva, it's in the urine. It's really in most of the secretions of the pet as well."

And Dr. Gottlieb says there's no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet, though smaller breed dogs tend to cause fewer problems.

So what can you do if you love your pet, but your allergies don't?

"One, it helps greatly to wash a pet," says Dr. Gottlieb. "With dogs, that's easy. With cats, you have to sort of get them used to that."

Washing your hands often, especially after petting your dog or cat, can also help.

So can getting a HEPA filter for your home.

Hardwood floors are better than carpet, which can collect dust and dander.

And, you may want to take an over-the-counter antihistamine, which Suzie Sloan does, along several other medications.

She also rinses her sinuses twice a day with a battery-operated irrigator.

But, in in her bedroom, a problem.

Pete the dog.

Bedrooms should be pet- (or in this case Pete-) free. 

"This is probably an example of what you shouldn't do with allergies," Sloan laughs. "But I'm a softie.  It's hard with a face that is that cute."

So, yes, Sloan says, the pet allergy struggle is real.

But Pete and Harvey aren't going anywhere.

"Oh, no," Sloan says.  "The battle is not adding another dog to our family."