It doesn’t take long for pets to become cherished parts of the family, so the thought of giving up a beloved family member when someone in your home has pet allergies can be heartbreaking. Fortunately, research has provided a better understanding of animal allergies and what can be done to treat them.
What Causes Allergies to Pets
It is not actually animal fur which causes allergic symptoms in people. Rather, it is caused from the proteins found in animal dander, saliva and urine. These allergens become airborne when the animal moves, gives you a kiss or eliminates waste. Allergen particles that are released into the air can stick on clothes and furniture, causing misery for the person who suffers from allergies.
Before you assume that someone in your household is allergic to your pet, have testing done to confirm the source of the allergy. There are several other common household substances, such as dust, mold, cleaners, tobacco smoke and pollen that drifts in from outside, which may actually be the problem. If allergy tests confirm a pet allergy, there are several measures you can take so the pet and allergy sufferer can continue to live under the same roof.
Ways to Provide Symptom Relief
As tempting and snuggly as it can be to sleep with pets, keep them out of the bedroom of the allergic person. Animal dander can easily get trapped in bedding and it is difficult to remove it completely.
To increase the quality of indoor air in your home, use a HEPA air filtration system. This will remove animal dander and other allergens from their air while circulating pure air at the same time.
All pets, even cats who meticulously clean themselves, should be given a bath every week. A bath will help with excess shedding and remove dander, fleas, dirt and anything else the pet managed to get in their fur over the course of seven days. If there is no one in the home who can bathe the pet without experiencing allergy symptoms, the next best alternative is a hypoallergenic and fragrance free wipe designed for pets. Baby wipes will also suffice for this purpose.
Always wash your hands immediately after holding or handling your pet, and be careful not to rub your eyes before you have done so. Animal dander that gets into eyes can cause severe irritation.
Vacuum frequently with a HEPA filter, or better yet, get rid of your carpets all together. Carpets are known allergy triggers since they can hold tiny dust mites and other allergens deep in their surface where they can not be seen.
Finally, be sure to wash your pet’s bedding at least once a week for maximum allergy control.
This guest article was contributed by Jennifer Bell from Health Training Guide. Jennifer has loved animals ever since her father brought home their first family dog when she was 5 years old. Today she owns a lovely golden retriever and two playful cats.
Check out her site to learn more about clinical laboratory technologist training and other exciting health careers.