There are self-declared cat people, dog lovers, animal friends who love both … and then there are those who are allergic. Pet allergies are hard to deal with, especially when you are an animal lover.
In many households, cats and dogs are like furry family members who will happily give companionship and comfort without asking for much in return.
When you or a family member starts to develop allergy symptoms around the house, especially when a pet is present, it gets tricky. The last thing most pet keepers want to do is rehome their precious four-legged friends.
Allergy specialists are very understanding when it comes to pet allergy patients – that’s why they offer a list of tips to try before they suggest saying goodbye to a beloved pet:
1. Get allergy tested
Symptoms like sneezing, watery itchy eyes, a runny nose, and itchy skin can be caused by several triggers. If you have a pet and experience symptoms that could be allergic, you shouldn’t immediately panic. In many cases, it turns out that a presumed pet allergy turns out to be a pollen or house dust mite allergy. Pollen can get stuck in an animal’s fur and be inhaled whenever you cuddle your pet. Likewise, households with pets always have a higher concentration of house dust mites present than those without, because dust mites don’t just feed on human skin cells, but also on pet dander. A proper allergy test like the ALL Allergy Test will give you clarity.
2. Establish an allergy-free zone
If it turns out that you or a family member is indeed allergic to your pet, it is important to create a pet-free (and therefore allergy-free) zone in the house. Adults spend a third of their time in the bedroom, children even up to half of their time, therefore it makes sense to keep the bedroom pet-free. Keeping a pet from the bedroom also helps to keep house dust mites at bay a little better, which is always beneficial for allergy sufferers.
3. Bathe or groom your pet regularly
Bathing your pet every one to two weeks will help to keep the allergen load they carry in their fur at bay. This tip is obviously more applicable to dogs than cats, since most felines will probably retaliate by scratching and biting if you even so much as think of sticking them into a tub filled with water. 😉
4. Clean carpets & pet beds
To reduce pet hair and dander in your home means knowing where it likes to gather, for example on carpets and rugs. Make sure to vacuum these “hot spots” at least once a week. You will achieve the best effect if your vacuum cleaner comes with a HEPA-filter, which traps allergens like pet hair and dander inside and prevents it from circulating through the air again. Likewise, clean your pet’s bed or sleeping spot regularly, because this is where pet allergens tend to really pile up.
5. Air conditioning & air purifying
Like your vacuum cleaner, your air conditioning unit should come with a HEPA-filter. Pet allergens don’t just stick to fabrics and surfaces, they are all around you and float through the air. If you use an air purifier, use the device in a room where your pet spends the most time in – for example where its bed is.
6. Consider allergy shots
Allergy shots (also known as immunotherapy) can be a possible long-term solution for pet allergies. ImmunotherapyThe prevention or treatment of an immunological disease with substances (i.e., allergens) that stimulate the immune response. is a 3-to-5-year process where small doses of the pet allergen is administered via regular injections. Over time, the immune system gets used to the allergen and stops treating it like a harmful substance it needs to fight at all costs, which in turn stop the onset of allergic reactions. After taking an allergy test, an allergy specialist can tell you whether you are a suitable candidate for immunotherapy or not.
7. Rehome your pet if it gets bad
Finding a new home for your pet is the last option most pet keepers will want to resort to. At the end of the day, it depends on your individual situation. If your allergy triggers asthma symptoms that are extremely hard to control and you constantly have trouble breathing, keeping your pet around will only make you more miserable. If you end up having to rehome your pet, there are several options. Maybe friends, friends of friends, or other family members are willing to adopt them. If you can’t find a suitable home for your pet, humane society, animal rescue, or local animal shelters are viable options. If you originally got your pet from a shelter, their policy will often ask you to return it to them if you find yourself in a situation where rehoming is the only option.
Think you might be dealing with a pet allergy? Take the ALL allergy test and find out exactly which pet allergens are bothering you!
Sources: self.com, humanesociety.org, petsforpatriots.org