Velcro Dogs

Picking up allergens a hazard
By Karen B. London PhD, November 2010, Updated June 2021

Usually when people talk about “Velcro dogs,” they mean the kind who are clingy and extremely emotionally attached to their guardians. That sort of Velcro dog makes sure you never feel alone, much less lonely, and keeps you from ever having to go any place, such as the bathroom, all by yourself.

 
There’s another kind of Velcro dog, which is perhaps of greatest interest to people with allergies. These dogs are the ones who go frolicking through the fields and gardens bringing home seeds, pollen, dust and every other sort of allergen that can get attached to a dog’s fur.
 
I had a client with severe allergies to all sorts of plants as well as many other things. She got a poodle specifically because her research had revealed that this breed is less likely to aggravate allergies than many other breeds. And it was true—her dog did not seem to set off her allergies. Unfortunately, if her dog went outside, as dogs tend to do, he collected all sorts of debris in his coat that DID cause her allergies to flare up. She was the one who first referred to his coat as a sort of Velcro that attached to anything and everything that she was allergic to.
 
By keeping him groomed with a fairly short cut, by staying on top of the advice of her allergist, and by choosing carefully where her dog was allowed to run loose, she was able to enjoy both her dog AND the feeling of being able to breathe, but it was a situation that required a lot more management than she had originally been anticipating.
 
Has anyone else had this problem of allergies being triggered not directly by your dog, but by what got stuck in your dog’s coat?

 

Photo courtesy the author

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life