Millions of people have allergic reactions to pet fur and dander. If allergy symptoms appear later in life or an allergic child is born into the household, pet owners may find themselves faced with the decision of giving up their beloved family pet. However, re-homing your dog or cat is not a foregone conclusion. There are a number of ways that you can effectively manage your allergy to animal fur and keep your home open to pets.
About animal allergies
In many cases, someone who experiences allergy symptoms in the presence of a pet isn’t actually allergic to the pet themselves. The reaction often does come from pet dander and fur that you inhale when you’Â€Â™re near the animal; but it could also be a reaction to the mold, spores and dust particles on the animal’Â€Â™s fur. This is especially common with pets that have regular access to the outdoors. Dogs and cats enjoy rolling on the ground: dogs in cool grass or to transfer interesting smells, and cats in dust patches.
Before deducing that you have a pet allergy, it may be a good idea to discuss an allergy test with your doctor to determine the cause for certain. It would be a shame to go to all of the trouble of managing an allergy to animal fur, or to give up your pet, only to realize that this is not actually the source of your allergy woes.
Regular bathing and grooming are essential to keeping the level of allergens from becoming troublesome. This is true regardless of the type or breed of animal you have, as hypoallergenic animals only have reduced dander and can still trigger an allergic reaction.
Comb or brush your pet regularly outside of your home. If you live in an apartment and don’t have an outdoor common area, a balcony or patio, consider taking your pet to a park or other public area where pets are allowed. Consider leaving a change of clothes immediately inside the door of your home, or try not to touch anything before you’ve changed the clothes you wore to groom your pet. Grooming clothes should be washed immediately. Regular baths for your pet will also help keep the animal fur and dander levels to a minimum.
Animal fur and dander builds up quickly in a home, as do shed human skin and hair. Limit the carpeted areas or the number of throw rugs in your home, as these one of the biggest allergen traps. Vacuum frequently, using a micro-filter or double-filtered vacuum. Consider purchasing a steam vac and/or a household air sanitizer to help keep the level of airborne allergens under control. You may wish to keep your pet off of upholstered furniture, or cover the furniture with blankets that are washed frequently in order to prevent animal fur and dander getting trapped in the cushions.
Allergy specialists will tell you that the biggest hazard for pet allergies is in your bedroom. You spend many hours in your bedroom every night, generally with your face pressed to fabrics that trap pet allergens. By keeping your pet out of this one room, you may significantly reduce the chances that you will have an allergic reaction. If you own your home, you may consider installing tile or other hard floors in areas where your pet lives for easier household maintenance.
While you may not want to take medications to help manage your allergy to animal fur, an occasional dose of antihistamine may be sufficient to control your symptoms. While over-the-counter allergy medications may be sufficient for mild allergies, discuss more serious symptoms with your doctor. A regular prescription allergy medication may be an option for you, or some other form of symptom management.
Bear in mind that there is no one-size-fits-all, and rehoming a pet is certainly better than dealing with potentially life-threatening allergies. On the other hand, just a little extra work could mean a life with the joy of a pet and without constant allergy problems.