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Dealing with Allergies to Your Pet

Posted: 5/20/2010 | Updated: 3/3/2011

Dealing with Allergies to Your Pet

Allergy Basics

As pets become more and more common in our society, so do our allergies to them. Pets have become an integral part of our lives even for many of the over 15% of the population that has an allergy to them. Most people who are allergic to pets also have allergies to other things including dust mites, mold and pollen.

Pet allergy sufferers are typically allergic to the dander, saliva or urine of the animal. Dog and cat allergies are the most common but people can also have allergies to birds, hamsters, rabbits, mice and guinea pigs. For those with allergies, symptoms include coughing, sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose or red itchy skin.

Relating to Dogs

'Hypoallergenic' and 'non-shedding' dogs have been the latest craze but in fact there are really no hypoallergenic dogs or dogs that do not shed at all. There are many breeds that shed very little hair in comparison to others; however it is the dander and not the hair that most people are allergic to so this doesn't matter much. There are a few breeds including Schnauzers, Poodles and some Terriers that actually have less dander which makes them a better choice for people with allergies.

It is important for people with pet allergies to spend time with the dog they are adopting before bringing it home to see how they react around it. If you cannot spend time with the actual dog you should find someone with the same breed that you can spend time with. Remember people can be allergic to an animal on an individual basis so while this may help determine if you will have trouble it is not 100% accurate. Remember that puppies typically have a different coat than adults of the same breed. It is not uncommon for a person to be allergic to a dog as a puppy and not once they grow out of their puppy coat or vice-versa.

Reducing Your Symptoms

If you or another member of your family suffers from pet allergies there are some things you can do to help alleviate your discomfort.

  1. Keep pets out of the bedroom. We spend a great deal of time in the bedroom so keeping pets out of the allergic person's bedroom will help greatly.
  2. Purchase a 'HEPA' air purifier. Make sure the device is large enough for the overall area or you may need to purchase a couple of them but when used properly these purifiers can help remove pet dander and other allergens from the air.
  3. Clean and vacuum regularly. This will also help remove allergens from the carpet and air. Carpeting harbors lots of pet dander and other allergens so switching to hardwood, vinyl or linoleum if possible will greatly reduce your symptoms.
  4. Bathe your pet frequently. Be sure to use a soothing, all-natural shampoo as frequent bathing with harsh shampoos can strip the essential oils from your pet's coat. There are some allergy sprays you can use for your dog to help cut down on the dander the give off. Please do your research to make sure they are safe to use on your pet for a continued basis.
  5. Feed your pet a good multivitamin and a fatty acid supplement to help keep their skin healthy.
  6. Be sure to wash your hands after handling the pet and his toys, bedding or other items.
  7. Find a good allergist in your area. They can be a huge help in managing or helping to reduce your allergic reactions.

Unfortunately, people can develop an allergy to pets at any point in their life. In the past many doctors would simply recommend re-homing the pet as a solution to the allergies. Fortunately, today we have some ways to help deal with the allergies so giving up your beloved family member is not always necessary.  By using some of the above strategies, you can hopefully manage your allergies without having to find a new home for your pet.

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