Puppy Love and Real Love

When love is in the air, you want to breathe it in. But what if that air is also filled with pet dander or pollen? Take these steps to avoid symptoms that get in the way of Cupid's work.

Sniffling, sneezing, and leaving a trail of wet tissues everywhere you go is hardly a recipe for romance.

Want to sail through the pollens of allergy season with less hassle? The No. 1 rule of thumb: "Be proactive," says Clifford Bassett, MD, assistant clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center.

See an allergist before the season starts for a treatment plan that may include a nasal steroid spray. These sprays can take a few weeks of regular use to reach full effect.

Don't rely on over-the-counter antihistamines alone. They may not be enough -- and they may help you less as the season wears on.


What about my pets? They’re like my kids, I think of them as members of my family. If you've been allergic to cats or dogs (or bunnies or guinea pigs) your whole life, your heart may sink when you learn the love of your life comes with one or vise versa. But before you run the other way, try these steps, says allergist Janna Tuck, MD:

Set ground rules. Find out what your partner is willing to do to help. Talk about where you'll spend time together -- preferably, your place.

Clear the air. Have your partner:

  • Use air purifiers (one in every room, if possible).
  • Clean often.
  • Keep the pet outside as much as possible, or at least out of the rooms where you spend the most time.
  • Use extra filtration on your vent registers to remove more pet dander

Get medicated. If over-the-counter allergy pills and eye drops don't do the trick, see an allergist for prescription meds. Allergy shots (ouch) may be an option for you, but they require at least 3 to 5 years of regular doctor visits.

Plan your pet future. Agree that if the relationship continues, when the dog or cat goes to pet heaven, you won't get another.

If your allergies are still a problem, find out where you stand. "It's a relationship gauge," Tuck says. "If your significant other isn't willing to consider your health as more important than the pet, then you might want to reconsider the relationship."

No one wants to give away a beloved pet, but human health comes first, she says.

We asked our friends at MyPetHealthGuide.com what to do if Rover's ruining your game. They walked us through six common dating-with-dog (or cat) dilemmas and how to keep your cool when the claws come out. 




When man and man's best friend have similar needs (back scratches, ample praise and a spot next to you in the bed at night), you're bound to feel like a tug-of-war chew toy. And if you cancel a date to take your pup to the dog park, your guy might start to feel left out. 

Ask yourself whether you really are putting pet before person or if he's just looking for an excuse to fight. A quarrel over your furry friend could be a cover-up for another issue that needs attention. Talk it out instead of using the dog to distract from what's really going on. 



If you and your man have agreed to split the responsibility of caring for a pet, but he's not holding up his end of the bargain, it's time to bust out the old school chore chart. Divide and conquer is the name of the game. Rotate duties, like walking, feeding and cleaning, to ward off resentment. Or find ways to make pet care fun. Chances are giving the dog a bath could lead to some scandalous sudsing of your own. 



If your pet's plotting a Parent Trap-like scheme to cramp your style, set some boundaries ASAP. When he's yapping while you're macking, show your pup that you're in charge by issuing strong commands like "stop!" and "down!" When it comes to PDA, your pet may be feeling jealous or trying to protect you. Spend plenty of QT with him alone. 

If your dog's humping your guy's leg (awkward), it could be a sign of dominant behavior. Stop the distasteful habit in its tracks by neutering by six months of age. 



If you're butting heads over a pet in the bed,  let your guy or girl win this battle. While you may tolerate dog drool on your pillow or cat hair on the comforter, your critters can also carry fleas, worms and other treasures into the sack. Plus, puppies may wet the bed and tiny kittens make easy targets for human steamrollers. The floor's a safer spot. Or meet half way by letting your pup sleep in his own bed at the foot of yours. Let kitty curl up on one of your sweaters (your scent will comfort her). 



If your guy's got severe or life-threatening allergies, you keeping a pet could be a deal breaker. Even if you spend hours vacuuming up pet hair, you'll be welcoming him with more than that bottle of wine when he pops over for movie night. That's because the real allergy culprit isn't fur, it's dander--tiny, sticky pieces of protein from your pet's skin and saliva. 

Reduce the risk of an allergy attack by frequently bathing your pet and scouring all surfaces in your home. Certain breeds like poodles and Chihuahuas may also leave behind fewer flakes. 




If you and your guy go in on a pet together, have a plan in case things don't work out. Don't put your kitty or pup's health and safety in jeopardy. Decide in advance whether you or your partner is better suited to care for the pet if your relationship hits the rocks. If neither one of you is willing or able, ask friends and family members to take your pet in instead of dropping him off at the shelter.