Balancing Allergies and Pets

For many people with allergies the benefits of owning a pet far outweigh the sneezing and itchy eyes. You can live comfortably with a companion even if you do have allergies by following some basic guidelines.

Pick your animal: While both dogs and cats can cause allergies, cats tend to be more allergenic (allergy-causing). Dogs with soft hair like Poodles or Bichons tend to be less irritating. They need to be clipped and groomed more often because their hair continues to grow. 

Check the allergy: Be sure it’s the pets you are allergic to before making any drastic decisions. Ask your allergist for a pet dander test. Allergies can be cumulative and many sufferers are sensitive to more than one allergen.

Save your money: There’s no such thing as dogs or cats that don’t cause allergies. Even those hairless designer cats can make someone sneeze. It’s not the hair that makes you itch, but the microscopic proteins found in the sweat and saliva of dogs and cats. It’s easily airborne; walking around a room is enough to disturb them and trigger sneezing. Pet dander, which is primarily hair and dead skin, can also trigger reactions.

Clean regularly: Use a vacuum cleaner with an HEPA 0.3 micrometres air filter to catch dander and protein. Be sure to vacuum at least once a week. Replace cloth curtains and carpeted floors since these are dander collectors. Invest in some couch and pillow covers that can be easily washed and be sure to do the pet beds at the same time. Installing a HEPA filter on your furnace will also reduce airborne pet particles.

Groom your pet: Bathing your pet for 3 minutes can reduce allergens by as much as 84 percent. Products claiming to reduce dander still aren’t as effective as a weekly bath. Always use dog or cat shampoo since their PH levels are different from ours. And yes, it is possible to get your cat used to a weekly bath. Ask your vet for some tips.

Create a pet free zone: Your bedroom is the perfect place for your allergy-free haven. Don’t allow your pet into the room and buy some new pillows and bedspreads. Impermeable covers for the mattress will help as well. And leave your pet play clothes outside the room. If Fido or Fluffy is used to sleeping with you, get them a super comfortable pet bed, line it with a piece of your old clothing or blanket for their comfort and put it outside the room.

Give them a home: Create an outside home for your animal to sleep some of the time to reduce allergen and dander inside. Make the shelter as warm and cozy as possible. It will be easier with your dog since they are natural cave dwellers. Entice your cat by putting some food in the shelter and sprinkling it with catnip.

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