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% to 20% of pet owners that are allergic to their pets. Now, this does not mean that you have to give your best friend up. 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 specialized 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 number 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 room 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 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 washing 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 your clothes. Finally, find an allergy specialist to help you set up a therapy plan that hopefully will not require getting rid of your 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.