If you’re living with a pet allergy, you aren’t alone. An estimated 15-30% of allergy sufferers are allergic to cats and dogs. You could solve this problem by getting rid of your pet, but your pets are often like members of the family – you may not want to give them up. Here are a few things you can do to help manage your allergies without surrendering your pets.
Set Up an Allergen-Free Room.
Many people choose the bedroom, and rightly so, since you spend so much time there, and a good night’s sleep is critical to getting through the day. Keep your pets out of this room; it will become your allergy “safe haven.” Think of it as a place to escape your symptoms. You should also invest in hypoallergenic bedding, and wash it regularly, since allergens could come in on your hair, skin, and clothing.
Clean, Clean, Clean!
Contrary to popular belief, it’s a protein secreted in your pet’s saliva, waste, and on their skin (and dander) that causes allergies, and not their hair. Still, frequent cleaning can significantly reduce the level of allergens in your home. Pay special attention to your pet’s bedding and favorite sleeping spots. It’s best if you wash these fabrics, so you should consider washable furniture coverings if your pet likes to sleep on the couch. Make sure your vacuum cleaner is equipped with a HEPA filter, and shampoo your carpets often (weekly is best). Wipe down hard surfaces with a damp rag or static-charged cleaner to prevent allergens from becoming airborne. It’s best if you wear a mask while cleaning, too.
It’s Bath Time!
Bathing your pet frequently is key to managing your allergies. Dogs should receive weekly baths (or more often if your symptoms worsen). Cats should be bathed (or at least rinsed) as often as they will tolerate – usually once every few weeks. In between baths, wipe your pet down with a product designed to reduce dander and trap allergens. It also helps to have a non-allergic member of the household groom the pet (preferably outside). To minimize your allergy symptoms, you should change your clothes after playing or cuddling with your pet (having a special “pet outfit” is a good idea). You should always wash your hands after touching your pet, especially before touching your face, and you may also find that showering before bed reduces your symptoms.
Not sure if you have a pet allergy? “Get tested!” (http://aaacor.com/new-patients/) Let Allergy & Asthma Center of the Rockies be your first choice for an allergist, Sterling. Dr. Bill Lanting specializes in helping people live symptom-free. We can change your life.