If even the idea of playing with your dog or cat gives you a bad case of the sniffles, then you are not alone. You are among the 15-20 percent of pet owners who are allergic to their pets. Now, this does NOT mean that you have to give up your best friend.
First, let’s understand what makes you allergic to your pets. Proteins found in your pet’s dead skin cells can trigger an allergic reaction, as well as proteins found in their saliva, urine and secretions from their skin’s sebaceous glands. The length or type of fur surprisingly does not influence the potential for a pet to cause allergies. It is a myth that there are hypoallergenic dogs or cats, since allergies are very particular for each individual; what induces allergies in you may not induce allergies in someone else. A single person may be allergic to several things. For example, you may be allergic to your cat in addition to dust mites, molds, mango trees and even your favorite perfume. The severity of the symptoms will then depend on the cumulative effects of these allergens in your environment at a given time. For this reason, getting rid of your pet may help to some degree, but may not solve the problem. Most importantly, before assuming that your pet is the cause of your allergies, go to a doctor who specializes in allergies and get a proper diagnosis. If you have been diagnosed with allergies to your pet, here are a few tips to follow in order to live a happy, allergy-free life with your pet:
Decontaminate Your Home Environment
Create a pet-free room. This should be your bedroom since you spend at least five-to-eight hours every night sleeping in it. Limit the amount of curtains and carpets; these are ideal places for allergens to accumulate. Vacuum frequently with a special filter to control allergens or use a vacuum with a disposable bag. Install air purifiers with special filters to control environmental allergen particles. Use “low dust” cat litter, and clean the cat box frequently.
Decontaminate Your Pet
Bathe your pet once a week in order to remove dead skin cells, dried saliva, and other allergens from their coat. Brush their coat several times a week OUTSIDE of the house. Wash their bedding in the washer machine weekly.
Assign a person in the family to decontaminate your pet and home. Avoid doing it yourself if you can. Wash your hands after touching your pet and avoid touching sensitive areas like your eyes, nose, and mouth. Set up an outfit for playing with your pet to avoid contaminating all of your clothes. Finally, find an allergy specialist to help you set up a therapy plan that hopefully will not require getting rid of you best friend. After all, we are all in this together; many veterinarians are allergic to animals and many pets are allergic to their humans. Finding a way to live in harmony is the goal.
Dr Sanchez-Emden is the founder of the Animal Health and Rehab Center in South Miami. She has been practicing veterinary medicine for 25 years. As a Certified Veterinary Journalist, she is the resident veterinarian for Telemundo. She authored the book “CHIHUAHUAS: How To Be Your Dog’s Best Friend”. She also hosts the podcast show “Hablando de Perros y Gatos con Dr Marta” available at the main internet platforms. Follow her her blog, drmartavet.com, and on social media @Drmartavet on You Tube, Instagram and Twitter. Also find her at Facebook.com/dr.sanchezemden and animalhealthrehab.com