Living with Allergies and Pets

Millions of people enjoy sharing their homes and their lives with pets, even those who are allergic to animals. Unfortunately, some people believe that once they are diagnosed with a pet allergy, they have no choice but to remove their pets from their family.

While many people believe that they are allergic to their pet’s hair, the real culprit is dander – tiny specks of skin, saliva and related proteins that come from an animals’ body. Certain pets can be less irritating than others to those who suffer from allergies, but that is strictly on an individual basis and cannot be predicted.

Thankfully, there are many solutions to explore that would allow an allergy sufferer to keep their pets while successfully managing their allergies. Read on for helpful tips:

  • Use HEPA air purifiers throughout the home. If you are allergic to your pet, chances are you are also allergic to other substances, particularly other kinds of fur, house dust and molds, feathers, cigarette smoke and pesticide spray. Since the effect of allergies is cumulative, your pet may be just one of many allergens building up in your environment. An air purifier can bring dramatic results.
  • Create an “allergy free” zone in your home. Designate certain rooms of the house (such as the allergic person’s bedroom) as off limits to your pet.
  • Decorate your home with easy to clean surfaces. Wood or linoleum floors, furniture with simple lines and blinds that wipe clean are better choices than carpets, upholstered and ornate furniture and cloth curtains that collect dust. Synthetic fabrics attract and hold dust much more than natural fabrics.
  • Wash bedding, rugs and slip covers frequently to remove dust and dander. Consider using impermeable covers for your mattress and pillows.
  • Vacuum frequently and thoroughly. Wet dust and damp mop appropriate surfaces. Mist rooms with distilled water to keep air-borne particles to a minimum.
  • Invest in washable pet bedding that can be cleaned easily and often.
  • Brush or comb your pet frequently. It is best to do this outdoors, if possible. The Regina Humane Society does not recommend keeping cats outdoors, so make sure your feline is wearing a harness and leash if you take her outside.
  • Bathe your pet every six weeks, but watch for dry skin. Bathing works to wash off the allergens that accumulate in your pet’s fur. There are many allergy control grooming products now available.
  • Use plain clay litter for cats. Cat litter can also be an irritant for allergy sufferers. Plain clay litter is usually the least irritating. Try to find one with a low dust ratio.
  • If possible, have someone other than the allergy sufferer groom your pet or change the litter box. If they must clean the house or change the litter, be sure to wear a dust mask.
  • Wash your hands after handling your pet and before touching your face. The areas around your nose and eyes are particularly sensitive to allergens.
  • Designate a “pet outfit” from among your most easily washed clothes. Wear it when playing or cuddling with your pet and you will leave other clothing uncontaminated.
  • Consult a physician, preferably an allergy specialist, who will make sure that your pet is the cause of your allergies and will help alleviate your symptoms. There are many treatments that an allergy specialist can recommend. If you or anyone in your family has a severe allergic reaction to a pet, consult your physician immediately.

For many people, the thought of living without a canine or feline companion is far more devastating than living with allergy symptoms. We now know that living with an animal can also increase our chances of good health. Pets can actually help dispel stress and loneliness, decrease depression and even lower blood pressure. Join the large number of animal lovers who manage their allergies and live happily and healthily with their beloved pets.

The information contained above is for general guidance on matters of interest only. The Regina Humane Society has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided. The Regina Humane Society does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness or reliability of the information contained.