If you or a member of your family is part of the 15% of our population allergic to pets, there are things you can do to help keep allergic reactions under control and make your home a much more comfortable place to live. Even if you do not have allergies, these tips are helpful if you have guests in your home that are allergic to animals.
• Wespend from one third to one half of our time in our bedrooms. By keeping the animals out of the bedrooms at all times, we can greatly reduce the symptoms of pet allergies.
• Install a good "HEPA" air cleaner.
• Close the ducts to the bedrooms and use electric heaters.
• Clean and vacuum regularly.
• Bathe your pet weekly.
• Do not allow your pet on the furniture.
• Do not allow yourpet in your car. (Or use car seat covers when your pet is in the car.)
• Brush your pet daily and use an allergy-reducing spray such as Allerpet.
• Keep your pet's skin healthy by feeding a good multivitamin and a fatty acid supplement. Encourage the pet to spend more time outdoors.
• Wash your hands after handling the pet, his toys, bed, etc.
• See your physician and discuss possibleimmunotherapy or medications.
Telling an allergic pet owner to just not have a pet or to get rid of their own pet is not a realistic option the majority of the time. The same holds true for telling people that are allergic to animals to just avoid them. Animals and pets are a very integral part of our lives and it is impossible to avoid contact with them. By adopting some good managementstrategies, we can help allergic pet owners keep their pets. At the same time, even if we do not have allergies ourselves, with a little empathy and consideration on our part, we can make life much easier for our friends and relatives who suffer from allergies to our pets.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (aafa.org)
Who Gets Pet Allergies?
Six out of 10 people in the United Statescome in contact with cats or dogs. The total pet population is more than 100 million, or about four pets for every 10 people.
Allergies to pets with fur or feathers are common, especially among people who have other allergies or asthma. From 15 percent to 30 percent of people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs.
People with dog allergies may be allergic to all dogs or to onlysome breeds. Cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.
What Causes a Pet Allergy?
The job of immune system cells is to find foreign substances such as viruses and bacteria and get rid of them. Normally, this response protects us from dangerous diseases. People with pet allergies have supersensitive immune systems that react to harmless proteins in the pet's dander (dead skin thatis shed), saliva or urine. These proteins are called allergens.
Dogs and cats secrete fluids and shed dander that contain the allergens. They collect on fur and other surfaces. The allergens will not lose their strength for a long time, sometimes for several months. They appear to be sticky and adhere to walls, clothing and other surfaces.
Pet hair is not an allergen. It can collect dander,though. It also harbors other allergens like dust and pollen.
Cat and dog allergens are everywhere. Pet dander is even in homes never occupied by these animals because it is carried on people's clothing. The allergens get in the air with petting, grooming or stirring the air where the allergens have settled. Once airborne, the particles can stay suspended in the air for long periods of time.
What Arethe Symptoms?
Reactions to cat and dog allergens that land on the membranes that line eyes and nose include swelling and itching of the membranes, stuffy nose and inflamed eyes. A pet scratch or lick can cause the skin area to become red.
If allergen levels are low or sensitivity is minor, symptoms may not appear until after several days of contact with the pet.
Many airborne particles are...