Living with Pets when You are Allergic to Them - Steps You Can Take that Improve Your Quality of Life
to the Humane Society of the United States
, studies show that 15 percent of
population is allergic to dogs or cats. And those people are not always willing
to stay away from pets, because of the more than 150 million pet owners in
this country, 1 in 10 is allergic to their animal(s). Sometimes, they take
on pets knowing already about the allergy. Other times, the allergy develops
after the pet is already a part of the family.
including your allergist, may say "Well, if you are allergic, just get
rid of your pet." But love for a pet is strong, often stronger than the
desire to be free of allergy symptoms. There are some people who will 'get
rid' of a pet (let us hope to a safe, secure, loving home), but many others
simply can not. It can be nearly impossible to look at the face of your animal
and think of turning it over to someone else. It can break your heart, not
to mention your pet's.
there dogs that do not cause allergies?
answer is no, there are not any dogs that are guaranteed not to cause allergies.
But there are some breeds that tend to cause fewer allergic reactions than
others. According to the American Kennel Club, these breeds include:
coated wheaten terrier
the dogs listed above are only less likely to cause allergies. If you
do not already have a dog, but you want one, and you know you have had allergic
reactions to some, spend time with some of these less allergenic breeds to
see whether you develop symptoms.
there other animals that do not cause allergies?
you may not think of them as pets. They include:
causes animal allergies?
that has hair, fur or feathers can cause allergic reactions in people. Substances
from animals that can cause allergic reactions include:
(very small particles of dead skin, which animals are constantly shedding)
are treatments you can get from your doctor, and they have varying degrees
of success. But there are a lot of things you can do in your home to minimize
the effects of allergens.
your pet's whereabouts
secretions and particles are highly mobile because they are lightweight, tiny
and constantly replenishing themselves as the animal sheds. They easily find
their way into and onto rugs, clothing, beds, curtains, walls, window blinds,
ceiling fans, any surface you can imagine.
of these guidelines you follow, the better the chances that you will keep
your allergy symptoms under control.
your pet out of the bedroom. This might be the hardest thing of all if
your pet is already used to sleeping with you. Some pets accept this kind
of change, while others may whine and give you grief. If it turns out to be
a difficult transition, it is not a bad idea to consult a trainer for suggestions.
This step is important, because spending all of those uninterrupted hours
of sleep breathing in allergenic particles is one of the worst things you
can do if you are sensitive to them.
► Keep your pet confined to certain
areas of the house. These areas should have no carpeting, only rugs that
you can throw in the wash. And ideally, these areas will be free of upholstered
furniture - unless the furniture belongs to the pet.
your pet off the furniture. This is another habit that can be hard to
break, but hang in there and be consistent, because it will help you a lot
in the long run.
your pet contained in the car. This can be a crate or a seat made especially
for dogs. This is always a good idea in terms of safety anyway.
another key to allergy control
a good idea for your pet to have a bath once a week, if possible. And the
person who gives the bath should not be the allergic one. Even birds can be
bathed with a mist sprayer. This can control the powder that cockatiels, cockatoos,
African greys and pigeons produce.
the pet's quarters frequently too. Wash bedding in hot water and put it in
the dryer. Empty cat litter boxes every day, and change the litter once a
after handling your pet. If your pet is a lap sitter, keep a towel on your
lap, and wear only washable clothing when the pet is on your lap.
home as clean as possible, vacuuming and dusting frequently. Wear a mask over
your mouth and nose when you do this. Wipe down walls frequently. Clean the
blades of ceiling fans.
out the allergens
step to allergy control is trapping the allergenic particles. Use a vacuum
cleaner that has a HEPA filter. Install a HEPA air purifier in your bedroom
and the rooms where your pet stays. Air vents need filters too. Otherwise,
they spread allergens throughout your house.
a good idea to rid your environment, especially your bedroom, of other types
of allergens, not just those from pets. Use hypoallergenic pillows (they do
not contain feathers) and comforters. Change your sheets once a week and wash
them in hot water. Dust thoroughly all around and under the bed.
this is a lot of work, but it is better than having to find a new home for
American Kennel Club; Humane Society of the United States; S. Kalstone, Allergic to Pets? The Breakthrough Guide to Living with the Animals You Love, Bantam, 2006. The New York Times, ·Learning to Live With Your Pet (and Breathe, Too),· 16 May 2006