Taming Your Pet Allergies
Studies indicate that more than 70% of U.S. households currently own one or more domestic animals, with an estimated 10 million owners who are allergic to them. About a third of the population that is allergic to cats, live with at least one cat in their home anyways. Whether it’s a cat, dog, hamster or other household animal, simple steps can be taken to make your pet allergies more tolerable.
Don’t Blame the Fur
Allergic reactions are caused by exposure to proteins that are normally present in secretions from the glands in the skin as well as in the animal’s saliva or urine. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t matter whether your pet has short or long hair – it’s the pet’s dander (skin scales) that con cause some of the worst allergic reactions. Although a pet’s fur doesn’t in itself cause allergic reactions – a pet’s hair is a good carrier of pet dander and saliva as well as dust, mold spores and other allergens.
Prevention is the Best Treatment
Allergists agree that the best treatment for pet allergies, as for all types of allergies, is avoidance of the things that cause allergic reactions. But avoidance doesn’t necessarily mean living without pets, especially when a family member’s allergies are moderate in nature.
Dr. Robert A. Wood, Director of the Pediatric Allergy Clinic at Johns Hopkins, offers a simple avoidance strategy for those who have moderate animal allergies but don’t want to give up their pets including:
Avoiding Allergen Exposure – Reduce the overall allergen burden in your home by home by restricting your pet no-carpeted areas. Keeping pets out of the bedroom is a sensible strategy since you spend roughly 1/3 of your time there. If possible, remove carpeting and upholstered furniture, once allergens get into them, they may remain there as long as 6 months.
Removing Allergens from the Air – Good ventilation and a high efficiency, whole-house air cleaner can help remove allergens already in the home.
Grooming Your Pet Regularly – You can help make your pets less of an allergy source by keeping them groomed and clean. Dr. Llona Rodan, a veterinarian, cat owner and a mother of a child with allergies, recommends having non-allergic person comb the pet everyday either outside or away from the allergic person’s sleeping area.