Is it unreasonable to get a dog when you know your mother/MIL is allergic to them?

(58 Posts)
loopennyloo Fri 08-Feb-13 22:17:55

Just that really!
My brother in law and his new wife have just got a dog in the full knowledge that my MIL (his mum!) is allergic to them. He says, her allergies aren't that bad and she's being OTT and she says going in their house will now close up her airways and she could die!

I think she is being OTT but he's being v insensitive but as a general principle what do you think? She wouldn't ever come and stay as they live quite close by but obviously this will make her visiting much more difficult. Equally my BIL and SIL really, really wanted a dog so felt like as she didn't actually live in the house it doesn't matter.

They've never got on particularly well anyway and I suspect this will be the final nail in the coffin but I can't decide who is in the right- not that I'll get involved but it's just been on my mind!

DeepRedBetty Fri 08-Feb-13 22:20:15

Since they live near each other and therefore seeing MIL doesn't mean inviting her to stay, if they really want to give a dog a home they have every right to.

If they want a dog then it is up to them

LondonInHighHeeledBoots Fri 08-Feb-13 22:24:04

Could they not have got a hypoallergenic one? Some dogs have hair not fur right?

But they should be able to get a dog if they want one, regardless of her allergies - they tend not to be life threatening for a pet hair allergy for visiting purposes do they? Disclaimer, I don't know anyone with a pet allergy so for all I know they might be! Just from your OP, you don't seem unduly concerned for her immediate death by dog hair.

loopennyloo Fri 08-Feb-13 22:24:45

Yes, I kind of think that- her objection though is that she wouldn't be able to come for instance to her grandaughters birthday party if they had it at home and all the other family would be there. I don't think BIL & SIL would be v sensitive about this- they would just say 'oh well, you can't come then' rather than hold a party somewhere else etc. And she can't babysit at their place etc.
I think she should go to her GP and see what treatments she could get for her allergy as I'm sure she could take something to make short visits manageable.

AdoraBell Fri 08-Feb-13 22:25:59

NBU imo, unless the person with the allergy lives with with the dog owners.

They could visit her if she feels unable to visit, or they could meet up and go for coffee or similar. It's really not an unworkable situation, but some people could make it so if they wanted to IYSWIM.

loopennyloo Fri 08-Feb-13 22:27:19

London you are right- I don't really think her allergy is as bad as she says. I've certainly never seen her have an allergic reaction (she has other allergies) apart from once when she said her whole face had swelled up and I had to go an inch from her face before I could notice her slightly puffy eyes! Though to be fair, she has always avoided going to anyones house with a dog as she says thats her worst allergy and I've never seen her with a dog

HollyBerryBush Fri 08-Feb-13 22:29:03

I'm sure your Bil is best placed to know his mothers little foibles.

JaneLane Fri 08-Feb-13 22:29:16

I have an allergy to fur so can see where your Mil is coming from in some sense. However surely your BiL and SiL could just visit MiL at her house if she's worried
about becoming ill?

I guess she might feel hurt because she feels they don't care if she can visit or not?

I wouldn't get a furry pet if I knew my mum had a fur allergy because I would also want her to feel comfortable in my house. However my parents live a long way away and therefore have to stay.

I'm kind of with you - I'm not sure!

I got a dog full in the knowledge that my mum is terrified of dogs.
I know that's very different from an allergy but still, put mum in a difficult situation.

6 years on and we have a work around. She still comes and sees us and we keep the dog away from her.

I suspect the relationship between them is more of a problem than the dog

loopennyloo Fri 08-Feb-13 22:30:12

Hmmm...she has gone on about it so much I suppose I started to think maybe she had a point but it's interesting that you all feel she should be the one to make allowances. Wish I could show her this thread- it might give her a bit of persepective!

Arithmeticulous Fri 08-Feb-13 22:31:00

To answer your OP, depending on the mother, it could be a very sensible plan grin <adds to list>

AdoraBell Fri 08-Feb-13 22:31:13

Dammit, you updated while I was typing! <wanders off, all huffy like>

loopennyloo Fri 08-Feb-13 22:33:17

Yes, the relationship between them is most definitaly the problem- it's been in a downward spiral for sometime and Jane Lane you are right, she feels like they just don't care if she visits or not- and tbh I don't think they do really. She's always wanted to be a bit more involved in their lives and they have always pushed her away. She's not a MIL from hell but does need to feel needed which can be a bit waring. My BIL definitely overreacts to this though.
We're in a horribly position, stuck in the middle...

just wanted to add, that some animal allergies can be life threatening, they trigger off my asthma, can be quite severe, and there is not much a doctor can give you to prevent this sad

loopennyloo Fri 08-Feb-13 22:39:21

So could that be the case hairy? MIL is asthmatic, though rarely seems to be a problem for her. I've never known someone with a severe pet allergy...? Also, she is fine with our cat (she looks after our ds's in our house and babysits) and I assumed cat and dog allergies would be related?

Iaintdunnuffink Fri 08-Feb-13 22:41:29

They can see each other without the dog, or are they hoping the dog would cut down contact with her? For me it would depend on the allergy and how badly it would effect those who I wanted to visit. If my Mum had a severe allergy to nuts then I would be careful in my house and would take it into consideration when inviting her round. Potential red eyes and a runny nose from a parent, that doesn't live with us, would not prevent me from getting a pet.

I have always had reactions to animals but it hasn't stopped me growing up around dogs, cats, horses etc. As a child I would take my dog to a training class, or show, and my eyes would stream, hurt, skin go itchy, nose run etc. Most of the time I was fine around my own dog but not all the time. If I go to visit someone I will occasionally flare up but the appropriate medicine will keep it to OK levels.

JaneLane Fri 08-Feb-13 22:44:46

I'm more allergic to cats than dogs but tbh my allergies to both are pretty mild now - have only had one asthma attack caused by an animal and it was a horse for some reason! I get a snotty nose, watery eyes and my chest gets a bit tight but nothing very dangerous.

I do know somebody with a severe fur allergy - any length of time spent in contact with animals or even just houses in which animals live cause asthma attacks and dreadful swelling.

blackeyedsusan Fri 08-Feb-13 22:44:49

asthma can be life threatening. if she is saying the pet allergy closes her airways then this might be the case.

Lora1982 Fri 08-Feb-13 22:44:57

My mums 'allergic' to cats, i still got one and she still visits. I think its more she doesnt like cats...

loopennyloo Fri 08-Feb-13 22:53:16

I just wish I knew if she was being totally honest about it. When we told her we were getting a cat she said she probably wouldn't be able to come over etc but we had expected this reaction and I had done some research so we reassured her that we were getting a female (apparently slightly less of an allergy trigger) and would put the hepa hoover round before she came over and had bought some special wipes for the cat to minimise dander etc. Once she realised we had considered her she calmed down and said she was partly upset because she wouldnt be able to stroke and make a fuss of the cat so the kids might think she didnt like it. Which was just ridiculous but anyway... But with the dog she is adamant that it is a life threatening allergic reaction. A case of the MIL who cried wolf (or dog!)

Also, if I were her I would just get on with it and see them outside of their house or only go over in summer where she or the dog could mostly be in the garden. At least if they see her making the effort they might try and be a bit sensitive in the future. Some people are just their own worst enemies! The more fuss she makes, the more they think she has gone way OTT and is totally exaggerating the allergy.

ukatlast Fri 08-Feb-13 23:28:30

My OH ended up only being able to make 30 minute max visits to his parents' house because of his allergy to their dog. When he had lived there they had only had cats and he constantly used inhalers (because of asthma/allergy to cats?). Upon going to University he no longer needed his inhalers.
So if her allergy is at all genuine and if they want to have contact with her, I would say yes they are being unreasonable but obviously it is their house, their choice.

We lived abroad for several years and it made visiting very difficult particularly since as the grandparents aged, they were more reluctant to be taken out and about.

I was allergic to dogs and other animals as a child, and my parents let my sister have a dog hmm when I was about 14.
As it happened my allergies actually improved after a while, but the first few weeks he was in the house, I suffered a fair bit. The exposure did seem to help after that though, and after a few months the dog didn't bother me at all.
I reckon that if your Bil has done it knowing full well how his mother would react then he and his wife just don't want her in their house and have chosen this as the path of least aggro to get rid of her.
Either way, it's not really your problem or business is it...

Narked Fri 08-Feb-13 23:40:24

People use or rather abuse the word allergy all the time. Yes, there are people with genuine life threatening allergies. There are also people who don't like cats/dogs and use it as an excuse. I'd imagine that, as he's her son, he's probably seen her in a house with a dog before - a friend or family members - and thinks she's exaggerating.

He's not asking her to live in the house or even visit often from what you've said - 'They've never got on particularly well anyway.' Why shouldn't he get a dog?

witchface Sat 09-Feb-13 09:16:46

I am allergic to my mils cats, it is the type of hair, when she had short haired ones it was fine its the long hair that gets me. I just take anti histimanes when we go to visit. Its no problem and i would never think of her not having them because of me. How weird. I wouldnt have long haired cats myself now i know but why should that stop someone else having them?

orangeandlemons Sat 09-Feb-13 09:22:20

I am severely allergic to all animal hair and dander. Severely. Antihistamines and inhalers have some effect but not much. I have been hospitalised through severe reaction ( horses, I couldn't breathe). I also can not go in a house where an animal has been for about 1 -2 months after it has left. So putting an animal in another room/outside is not an option.

If they want to keep her away they are doing the right thing! I do feel however people with animal allergies are severely misunderstood...

firesidechat Sat 09-Feb-13 09:32:20

It is not unreasonable for your bil to get a dog.

My daughter is allergic to horses and slightly allergic to dogs. She went horseriding for many years and we had a dog for 10 years. She loved the horses and the dog, so just got on with it, although in fairness the allergies weren't that severe.

Certainly if your mil doesn't live with them then they should have a dog if they want one.

I got a cat though my dad is allergic.

When he stays I give dad our room and shut the cat out. It's fine.

tabulahrasa Sat 09-Feb-13 09:34:41

I wouldn't get a pet that might kill someone who visits my house, but if it's just a case of them taking anti-histamines and me deep cleaning and keeping a dog out of their way I wouldn't see it as a big issue.

orangeandlemons Sat 09-Feb-13 09:37:13

But antihistamines, deep cleaning, and shutting dog away don't work for severe sufferers. It is the dander that is airborne that causes the problems, not the actual hair, and vacuuming makes no difference

tabulahrasa Sat 09-Feb-13 09:39:49

No - but what I meant was that it would depend on the extent of the allergy.

JeezyOrangePips Sat 09-Feb-13 09:41:10

I am also allergic to most animals. An antihistamine before I go to their house does the trick.

I don't think they are being unreasonable. Why should they limit their life because of his mothers issues?

I agree if she lived there it would be different (having said that, I have a cat despite my allergy - it chose us, I didn't want a cat - and havd developed a tolerance over time), but she doesn't.

I am assuming that the her-allergy-isn't-that-severe gut feeling of the OP and her bil is correct. (surely the bil would know? He grew up in her house?)

maddening Sat 09-Feb-13 09:42:19

They can get a dog as long as they accept that this will reduce visits from his mum.

He must also accept that she may feel purposefully excluded and make sure hw works to eliminate those feelings.

I have asthma and am allergic to dogs - my miltb keeps talking about getting one - which is fine as long as she accepts that ds and I will not be able to visit her - she will have to visit us only and lives an hour and a half away and doesn't drive. ...

JeezyOrangePips Sat 09-Feb-13 09:43:30

Orange - do you think that people should change their plans to suit an allergy sufferer that doesn't live there?

To be fair, it doesn't sound like the ops mil has a severe allergy, although we only have her word for that.

Muminwestlondon Sat 09-Feb-13 09:49:23

It depends on the allergy and the type of dog your relatives have! Would it not be possible for your Mum to visit the allergy clinic at the hospital if she is worried? I am sure your brother in law would be willing to keep the dog out the room she will be sitting in and vacuming thoroughly before the visit?

My DD developed an allergy to both dogs and horses, she has even had to get off a bus if a dog gets on, she reacts that badly. If we visit doggy relatives, they normally put the dog in the garden etc and that helps. It is difficult for her to sleepover at a particular friends, as even though the dog is not in the room they is still dog "residue" around the house - it is supposedly an non allergic type of dog as the friend's mum also reacts to dogs - though not to that one.

My auntie has a severe allergy to cats and used to come and stay with us from overseas even though she would be snuffling and her eyes would be running from the allergy.

orangeandlemons Sat 09-Feb-13 17:05:06

No, not at all. Ds has always loved dogs, and now having left home is threatening to get one. I have told him I won't be able to visit him much....he doesn't seem concerned hmm.

If he really really wants one, then he should get one, I wouldn't stop him.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 09-Feb-13 17:11:08

Sorry but she does not live in his house that means he does not have to concider her when getting a pet, she has her own house so can decide what pets are welcome there.

Bogeyface Sat 09-Feb-13 17:53:01

She sounds a bit of a drama queen. Not saying that her allergy isnt genuine, but the way she is going on about it.

Their house, their choice. She could always see them elsewhere.

Midori1999 Sat 09-Feb-13 17:53:11

wishes in laws were allergic to dogs

Of course it they ANBU, it is their home, they can get a dog if they want to. Of course, they will also have to accept this may mean MIL doesn't visit... some may see this as an added benefit of getting the dog.

My own MUm has COPD and has lots of inhalers, medication etc. She constantly goes on about air fresheners, the dogs, the cats etc, but it never stops her visiting. She does make a right fuss if she's here though, but that is all that seems to happen... hmm

DontmindifIdo Sat 09-Feb-13 18:10:36

I don't think that a parent gets to limit what happens in their adult DCs homes.

The MIL doesn't live there. She isn't needed to do childcare etc. She lives close enough that visits can be short and not require stop overs, and close enough to meet outside their house in halfway locations like parks or invite them to her house. There is no reason as far as I can see that they should limited their pet choice because of MIL's allergies.

BTW - it sounds more like MIL is a drama queen, even if she does have a slight allergy. My mum has allergies that she uses to try to control others diets - she gets annoyed when I serve things she's allergic to (but give her something else), she really feels everyone should be denied things like chocolate cake because she can't have them...

Do you think it's possible your BIL being aware of having seen your MIL around dogs how bad she really is with them and is refusing to let her dictate what happens in his house? If she has form being a drama queen about her allergies (which "my whole face has swollen up!" when it's just slightly puffy eyes, sounds like she does have form of playing up her allergies to get sympathy/attention/control what's going on with others), it could be he sees no point in pandering to her. Your 'deep cleaning because the cat will make MIL ill' when it very clearly doesn't suggests he's grown up with this and can't be arsed "playing the game" with her.

Binkybix Sat 09-Feb-13 19:17:33

I think it is up to them, but it can be a real pain and be constraining if the allergy is bad.

My DH is very allergic to animals, and my dad has two dogs so it means things like at xmas we need to stay in a hotel, can only visit for a few hours etc. It is a pain, and will probably be more so now we have a baby on the way. He hates making a fuss about it, but it does really restrict us.

HerrenaHarridan Sat 09-Feb-13 19:33:55

Depends if you like them / want them to visit grin

DoubleMum Sat 09-Feb-13 20:42:44

I'm allergic to cats and dogs. Once I went to a friend's house for dinner (having planned to stay the night). She had shut her cats in the kitchen, but nevertheless between the starter and the main course her DH had to drive me to the pharmacy for medication because by that point I could barely breathe. I'd never had that extreme a reaction before but it was quite frightening. So were I your MIL, I'd be quite upset.

CombineBananaFister Sat 09-Feb-13 20:56:10

I normally think people should be able to do what they want in their own home BUT i really feel for your mil in this situation. Am VERY allergic to fur -cats,dogs, horse, mice and have been hospitalized on each occasion (asthmatic) It's quite scary because it can just take a few hairs and it can be in a house where the pet has gone. If it were a peanut allergy everyone would be so much more respectful but because its dogs and they are cute no-one takes it seriously (peanuts aren't cute grin) Ds doesn't get to see his Gps much because of it. Think it's a bit mean if it's his own mum as it will restrict visiting. Hate the fact that Ds will only be able to have a gldfish sad

CombineBananaFister Sat 09-Feb-13 20:57:03

A gldfish is a new species don't you know haha goldfish blush

DoJo Sat 09-Feb-13 21:05:02

OP - regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation, I don't really see how you're in the middle of this? BIL has made a decision that has upset your MIL, but it's not up to you to resolve their differences, so I would just keep your own counsel, say 'Hmm, it's a tricky one' if anyone involved asks you your opinion and hope that it all blows over soon.

Christelle2207 Sat 09-Feb-13 21:39:35

I'm allergic to cats and have asthma. I prob visit people who have them less often but i still go and I just deal with it.
(I Avoid staying over. )
It's my issue, not theirs. Mil is being OTT (unless she has vvv bad symptoms) and yab a bit u.
Things will more than likely be fine if they keep dog out of her way and in another room. But suspect there are lots more issues, not just the dog.

Christelle2207 Sat 09-Feb-13 21:40:20

Ps I really dont see why you would be worried about this.

Christelle2207 Sat 09-Feb-13 21:45:50

Pps afaik cats are far more problematic for allergy sufferers than dogs. Certainly for me. It's because of the saliva that cats constantly lick themselves in, and they moult more. So if she is ok with your cat, I think she is definitely ott and your bil will know this.

CloudsAndTrees Sat 09-Feb-13 21:54:07

If their relationship is difficult anyway, why on earth should they not get a dog?

It's not like the dog will change a regular visit that they have from your BILs mum. They haven't done anything wrong.

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 09-Feb-13 21:54:23


I also think people who do not live with other people with peanut allergies should also be able to eat peanuts in there own home.

Whocansay Sun 10-Feb-13 00:36:58

BIL can do what he likes in his own house.

MIL is a self centred old bat who is desperate for attention. This is nothing to do with her, but is making it all about her.

I stay well clear if I were you.

thereistheball Sun 10-Feb-13 05:21:58

My MIL has a severe allergy to pet hair: it can be life-threatening. Even coming into contact with someone who was in contact with a dog can set it off. We would never get a dog or cat for this reason.

MollyMurphy Sun 10-Feb-13 05:50:41

I don't see why her allergy should impact them having a dog. It's probably your average pet allergy....she can take an anti-histamine before going over, wash her hands well etc. I have a cat and my mums quite allergic - wouldn't have occurred to me not to get one on that basis. She still comes over, babysits, even stops by to feed it if we are away.... Being offended and avoiding their house altogether seems dramatic (unless of course I'm wrong and its some anaphylactic situation).

CombineBananaFister Sun 10-Feb-13 08:36:06

I agree with what you're saying Sockreturningpixie, i guess i was just trying to get the point across that certain allergies are taken far more seriously than others and some are just seen as the allergic person being a fussy pain in the arse. I don't thnk they shouldn't get a dog, you can't revolve your life around other peoples medical conditions especially in your own home BUT i do still feel sorry for the MIL, it must be miserable for her. I do wonder if the allergy was the other way around, how they would feel if their mil got a dog.

maddening Sun 10-Feb-13 13:09:00

Christell - I am more allergic to dogs than cats so think your theory is flawed smile it depends on what the person is allergic to.

maddening Sun 10-Feb-13 13:11:59

Ps for me dog = asthma attack, cat = v.uncomfortable itchy eyes/runny nose and some difficulty breathing but nowhere near as bad as a dog.

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