Allergies, Asthma, Eczema and a Dog

Let me introduce…Brian!

brian a soft coated wheaten terrier

Our honorary guest this week.

Brian, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Brian is a 7 month old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier…basically a big soft ball of fluff…with loads of energy!

My boys are in heaven! They are just loving having a dog in the house again! They take him for walks, play catch, feed him, yes, even clean up after him and basically entertain one another.

Whose taking who for a walk!

brian leading matthew on a walk

Brian is in love with the boys…following them around wherever they go…whining when they go upstairs, off to school or out to deliver their papers.

Our family is well versed in Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers…meet Chester!

chester, a soft coated wheaten terrier, our first dog

Chester was our beloved first dog.

Andy and I welcomed Chester into our lives the first year after we purchased our first home.

One of the reasons we purchased a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was their hypo allergenic qualities:  non-shedding. I am highly allergic to many types of dogs…I was fine with Chester.

Over the years, my husband and I questioned our eldest son’s eczema and both boys’ asthma in relationship with our dog. Every doctor we visited recommended that we find a new home for him. One allergist, in particular, would not perform a skin test on our son until we no longer owned a dog. She said it would take 3 years to fully rid our home of a dog’s allergens.

This was not easy to digest. In the end, Chester lived his full life with us to the age of 12.

This was taken days before Chester died. Notice the redness and dark circles under Michael’s eyes.

michael and matthew with chester

I have this photo blown up and framed at home. A few years after Chester died, a young friend of the boys was visiting. After looking at the photo he exclaimed, “What is wrong with Michael?”

Coincidentally, 3 years after Chester’s death, Michael’s eczema took a turn for the better. In the last few years, he has been puffer and antihistamine free. Matthew is in the process of weaning himself off  puffers.

Could it have been Chester?

Also, in and around the 3 year mark, Michael started light therapy under the care of his dermatologist. Puberty also set in.

Could the combination of variables have made the positive difference?

Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are considered to be hypo allergenic…unfortunately, I believe my boys definitely showed signs of being sensitive to Brian. So much easier to notice when you have something to compare it with.

Brian arrived last Saturday. I was away and arrived home Sunday evening. It took only one look at Michael and Matthew to realize they were suffering from allergies.

Michael was all red in the neck, sniffling, sneezing, coughing and his breathing was strained. Matthew was also sniffling, sneezing and coughing with laboured breathing. I immediately got them on their puffers and Michael on his antihistamine.

I banned the dog from the basement, had the boys vacuum it and removed Brian’s bed from the basement to the kitchen. (Figured that was a good spot as it is where I spend most of my days. lol) He was already banned from the upstairs…thank goodness that was already in place. The boys needed places of refuge.

Since the boys have gone back on their puffers, Airomir and Alvesco both in the morning and night, their breathing is back under control.

Michael’s antihistamine seems to be helping with the sneezing and headaches.

On one of Brian’s walks, I happened to bump into my neighbour/friend…a friend who knew only too well the journey I have been on. Her first words to me went something like this, “Are you crazy…of all people to be looking after a dog…with all your allergies!”

Yes, I realize it seems absurd that we should be dog sitting. It certainly has made me realize that the boys are definitely sensitive to dogs.

I don’t know about you, but I have a ‘backpack of guilt’ that follows me wherever I go. Over the years, I have tried to empty it with the philosophy of learning from my mistakes and moving forward without looking back with regret.

Chester is in my ‘backpack of guilt’. Little did we know when he became part of our family, that he would become part of our allergy problems.

Brian’s stay with us has confirmed all the doctors claims. Rather than feel guilt, I am going to remind myself that we did the best that we could at the time…Chester was family…it was not an easy decision to make.

Moving forward, we know for sure that we will not be able to own another dog.

In the meantime, as a family, we will all enjoy the last couple days with Brian.

I sure had lots of fun taking Brian for his daily walks.

brian out on a walk in the snow

I think we bonded…best buddies now!

out with brian for a walk

We enjoyed three daily walks …one in the morning, one in the afternoon to meet Matthew after school and one in the evening.

going for a walk with brian and andy in the evening

A romantic walk in the moonlight with my two sweethearts.

We will live vicariously through our friends’ dogs…making sure we are all on our medications…so we can enjoy every snuggly moment!

the boys snuggling with brian

Thinking of owning a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and have dog allergies?

Check out Best Allergy Sites here and here. Ruth describes her decision-making process in researching a dog for her son who is allergic to dogs and her positive experience owning a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.

Have you owned an animal and then were faced with the decision to find a new home due to allergies in the family? What did you do? Please share.


15 thoughts on “Allergies, Asthma, Eczema and a Dog

    • Hi Ruth! Your site offers such great tips for anyone hoping to own a Wheaten and suffers from dog allergies. We are a dog loving family that live vicariously through other people’s dogs! Great to hear from you!

  1. My son is allergic to our dog too, but getting rid of the dog has never been an option for us. I know that it is just another stress on his immune system, but Toby is our first baby, 11 years old almost, so we will enjoy him for the time we have left with him. Ironically, my son completely adores him and drapes himself all over him, lays down with him to read books, it is too sweet. We bathe him very night to wash the dander off and it keeps the eczema at bay….thank you for your comment on my blog, sounds like we have so much in common! I see a specialist next week…she specializes in food allergies and healing guts, fingers crossed!

    • We felt the same way…it was not an easy decision…we were criticized for our choice. Michael assures me we have done him no harm…it would have broken his heart to have given Chester away. I do hope you get some answers from the specialist regarding your son’s leaky gut. Ask about probiotics, digestive enzymes and Essential Fatty Acids. Keep the hope alive…there are answers…it just might take a bit of work getting there. Please keep in touch. Thanks for stopping by!

      • we’ve already done some very hard core probiotic/enzyme regimes (recommended by the specialist and a holistic nutritionist) to help heal his gut, but it didn’t seem to work. It is possible that we still have not removed an offending agent…a gut can’t heal if it is exposed to something it doesn’t like……so we’ll see!

      • Very true! I know it has taken years for Michael to feel truly well. Be patient. Skin,gut,lungs…his body systems seemed to all be under attack. Trial and error, positive thinking and sheer determination will guide you on your journey.

  2. growing up we always had bichon frise’s. i had terrile asthma and eczema. my doctor always said that when i moved out he thought a lot of my asthma and eczema flair ups would be gone. sure enough they were both much better as soon as i went to college. i know looking back my mom feels so bad and regrets not getting rid of the dog. i have to say that i would NEVER put my kid through that having had to deal with that most of my childhood. it sucks to be uncomfortable, to have trouble breathing and have horrible itchy skin. i know it’s sooo hard to part with dogs but i would more than strongly encourage anyone who thinks their kid might be allergic to their dog to find them a new home. my parents now had a cockatoo and i have a two year old who is allergic to dogs … we stopped going over there b/c i didn’t want to put my child through that discomfort. my mom said she wasn’t going to do this again and that her grandkids were so important to her so she found a new home for the dog – i know that was a REALLY hard decision but i cannot tell you how much it means to me and my family. those are just my two cents. thank you for sharing your story.

    • Hi Abby! Thank you so much for your ‘two cents’…I appreciate your honesty! To tell you the truth, I am still riddled with guilt over this one…I know my boys are just being kind. Those were really hard years…it still pains me to think back. I know my head was not always in focus…sleep deprivation and stress will do that. I have to live with the decision I made and move on…not always easy. Thankfully, we are in a good place right now. Thanks for sharing. P.S. You have a great parents!

      • Thank you for your nice reply! I certainly didn’t want to make you feel ‘guilty’ about what you had done…and your boys are both healthy and fine now, you are an amazing mom who goes to great lengths to keep your boys safe and healthy. I just wanted to share my experience because I was hoping that anybody else who might be going through that right now would maybe think twice about keeping the dog around. Thank you for your awesome blog and honest posts. What a great resource for all of us moms who are just headed down the path that you have been on for so many years.

      • Thank you! No worries! Living with food allergies, eczema, asthma and allergies in general is like stepping into another world! It’s a world of trial and error. At times, there seems to be no method to the madness of all of it! Sometimes I feel like a ‘mad scientist’ trying to get a handle on the complexities of it all. I am grateful for all that I have learned so far. It is my hope to pass on what I have learned in order to help those that are travelling some of the same paths that we have. There is still a long road ahead…happy trails!

  3. Pingback: Food Allergy Chronicles Thanks ‘Seize The Veggies’ For The Very Inspiring Blogger Award | The Food Allergy Chronicles

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