Many pet owners have welcomed a new pet into the family only to find out that they are actually allergic to them. If this has happened to you, don’t despair. Although this situation is unfortunate, there are several things you can do to work around your allergy and ensure that you and your new companion can live in allergy-free harmony for years to come.
- Create a Pet-Free Area
The first step towards minimizing pet allergies is to designate a pet-free area in the home. Many people like to make this the bedroom. Ensure that the pet has a safe, warm, quiet place elsewhere in the home with ample food and water, and keep the door to the pet-free zone closed at all times. If you are severely allergic, consider removing clothing that has been in contact before entering the pet-free zone. This will allow your allergies to subside and relax naturally, even if they flare up in other areas of the home.
- Purchase an Air Purifier
Most people that suffer from pet allergies are actually allergic to their pet’s dander - the mixture of dead and dry skin cells that flake off the body and become airborne through movement and petting. Forced-air heating and cooling spreads dander throughout the home and worsens allergies. Fortunately, an air purifier can easily remove airborne dander particles, leading to decreased allergies and fewer adverse reactions.
- Clean Your Home Thoroughly
Even for people without pet allergies, pet hair can be a nasal irritant, causing sneezing, coughing and runny noses. For this reason, it is wise for people with pet allergies to clean their homes thoroughly and often, paying special attention to places that pet hair gathers, such as couch cushions and corners. This simple act helps control allergens and lessens the allergen load in the home.
- Bathe Your Pet Often
Since most people who suffer from pet allergies are actually allergic to their pet’s dander, many people can find significant relief by bathing their pet once a week. Be sure to use non-drying, animal-specific shampoos and avoid contact with your pet’s eyes, ears and nose.
- Ensure That Your Pet Gets Enough Fatty Acids
This is a “healing from within” solution. When your pet gets enough fatty acids in his or her diet, it increases their hair quality and greatly decreases shedding, thus decreasing the level of allergenic dander present in the home. Consult your veterinarian for feeding suggestions and supplementation recommendations.
Although suffering from pet allergies can be difficult, it does not automatically mean you need to give up your beloved pet. By following simple protocols like designating pet free areas, using an air purifier and bathing the pet frequently, most pet allergy sufferers can find great relief. Additionally, those allergic to pets may benefit from welcoming a “non-shedding” animal breed into their home. If nothing else works and your allergies are severe, it may be time to consider giving up your pet. Fortunately, however, this is rare and most allergic pet owners can find a way to work around their allergies while maintaining a happy and healthy home for people and animals alike.
Article reviewed by a veterinarian