Having a pet allergy may make it more difficult to live with the animals you love, but it doesn’t have to make it impossible. Some people may have pet allergies as a child, and others may develop them in adulthood. Regardless, there are a number of measures you can take to happily co-exist with pets.
Understanding Pet Allergies
If you suspect a pet allergy, the first step is to see a physician for an allergy exam. You may actually be allergic to something else besides your pet. There have been instances when people mistakenly thought they were allergic to their dog or cat, only to discover later that they were actually allergic to the plant pollens that clung to their pet’s fur.
If your doctor confirms that you are allergic to your pet, it’s important to understand the source of that allergy. You are likely reacting to pet dander, the microscopic flecks of skin that animals shed. You may also be allergic to proteins found in your pet’s urine or saliva.
In most cases, allergic reactions to pets are not life threatening, but the symptoms they generate can certainly reduce your quality of life. To minimize exposure to pet allergens, consider taking the following steps:
- Allergy-free zone – Keep at least one area of your house completely pet-free.
- HEPA air filters – Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters throughout the house. Avoid carpeted floors and curtains that may trap pet dander.
- Bathe your pet weekly – Regular bathing will reduce the accumulation of allergy-causing dander on your pet. Ask your vet about proper pet-bathing techniques.
- Try treatments – Talk to your doctor about allergy immunotherapy for pet allergies. Immunotherapy can reprogram your body to stop reacting to pet dander. Allergy immunotherapy is available through allergy shots or under-the-tongue allergy drops.
You may not need to give up your pet or avoid getting a pet in the first place just because you have allergies. With proper avoidance procedures and/or allergy immunotherapy, you may be able to maintain your quality of life in the company of your furry friend.