All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Doctor says "Dog has to Go!"...No Way!

Dear Marie,
We've just had our 2-year-old son diagnosed with multiple allergies by an allergy specialist. The doctor said that he is not yet allergic to our family Labrador, but if the dog is not moved outside, he is at high risk of becoming allergic to dogs. We feel it necessary to move the dog outdoors. We live in Southern California, and it's not that cold. We do go outside all times of the year, and take the dog on walks and with us to many places. We feel that it is better in the long run for the boy not to chance becoming allergic, and that the dog should be able to be comfortable outside.

We plan to provide a nice doghouse for him. We also have a large covered patio out back. The back yard is completely enclosed. But we were wondering if you had any advice for moving a nearly 100% indoor dog to the outside with the least amount of stress on the dog. He likes it outside when we are there, but otherwise likes to be inside.
Thank you!

Dear Ed,
First, I am happy to hear that you do not plan on getting rid of your dog as so many parents of children with allergies usually opt to do. What is surprising, most of these decisions are made at the recommendation of a doctor. It’s a quick and easy “fix” that old-school allergists pass along as if the allergy-sufferer’s pet is an old rug, rather than a member of the family.

What they fail to take into consideration is the fact that your dog is most likely quite special to your son. Strong bonds between pets and people are formed from a very early age. So in addition to creating a very stressful separation from family for your pet, you will be doing the same to your son who has always known a furry, friendly, four-legged brother. Being only two years old, this will be very hard for him to understand.

The irony in this is the fact that since he has grown up with the dog, he is probably not a candidate for developing allergies to your Labrador. Not too long ago, it was thought that allergy-prone children living with pets would develop allergies to pets later in life. However, recent studies following allergy susceptible children from birth to 6 or 7 years old have shown that those individuals who lived with pets throughout that time were significantly less likely to develop allergies to pets and furthermore, having pets in the home may actually decrease the likelihood of developing pet allergies later in life.

Before relegating your trusting dog to a life alone in the back yard, you may want to seek a second opinion from a more pet-friendly allergist. All too often, dogs that are evicted to the outdoors ultimately become neglected – out of sight, out of mind. You may provide him with all the food, water and protection from the elements that he needs, but the bottom line is that dogs not only want regular interaction from their family – they NEED it - to be emotionally healthy.

Another option that you should consider is the use of anti-allergy products which are applied directly to your pet’s fur. There are a number of good products on the market and they are very easy to use. Owners of dogs and cats who suffer from full-blown allergies to pets, report that these products are nearly one hundred percent effective in eliminating pet-related allergens in the home.  Use of whole house air filters and regular vacuuming are also great methods for reducing environmental allergens.

You can choose lotions that are applied to your dog’s fur via washcloth on a weekly schedule, or as needed, or you may decide that specially formulated shampoos are more appropriate for your situation. In either case, using this type of product is a much better solution than eliminating your son’s best friend from his daily environment.

I understand that your son’s well being is your top-most priority. But children who share their homes and have close relationships with pets, grow up to be caring, compassionate adults. With recent studies demonstrating that living with pets from birth reduces the chances of developing allergies in later life, and with modern science providing products that control pet allergens, it seems that keeping your son and dog together in your home is a far better choice than separating them forever.

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