Dealing With Dog & Cat Allergies at Home
In many families, pets bring joy, companionship, and a host of health benefits, including lower blood pressure and cholesterol and increased exercise and social opportunities. However, if you are dealing with pet allergies, it may be hard to keep your focus on the positive through your red eyes and runny nose.
The good news? There are many ways to deal with dog allergies and cat allergies and a variety of things to consider in order to ensure that everyone in your home -- both two-legged and four-legged -- can live in a peaceable kingdom together.
Tips for Dog Allergies
Your best friend and your children’s brave protector: dogs bring so much joy to our lives and their loyalty is unwavering. If you or someone in your home is experiencing an allergic reaction, you may worry that your dog is the source of the problem. Before you panic, take some time to get to the root of the reaction and find out how to address it.
1. Double-check the source
Before you decide that you are suffering from dog allergies, consider other elements of your environment. If you frequently go for walks, there may be trees or plants along your route producing a pollen that is causing your allergies. You may be reacting to something in your dog’s food or bedding. You may even find that when he’s going outside, he’s rolling in grass and bringing that pollen into the house.
Be sure to check with your doctor and get an allergy test before you blame the dog. Pollution, food, and a variety of environmental factors can cause allergic reactions -- find out exactly what your triggers are.
2. Understand Pet Dander vs. Fur
Many people think that dog allergies are related to the amount of fur an animal has or how much he sheds. In reality, most allergies are triggered by dander, the flaky dry skin produced by your pet. While it is helpful to keep your home well-swept in order to minimize exposure, filtration is the way to control pet dander. This is also why both long-haired and short-haired dogs can produce the same allergic symptoms.
3. Bathe your dog weekly
In order to limit the dander your dog is producing or the pollen coming in from outside, give him or her a bath on a weekly basis. If your dog’s skin is particularly sensitive, you may have to bathe less often or use a special, extra-gentle shampoo in order to keep the skin and coat healthy. Check with your vet to see if there are any special precautions for more frequent bathing.
Tips for Cat Allergies
Many people rely on their cats for companionship, entertainment, and lots of love. Whether they are the nose-in-the-air aloof type or the cuddly snuggle-buddy, many people can’t imagine life without a cat (or two!). But if your feline friend has you wheezing, you may find yourself avoiding spending time together. Before you hide from your kitty companion, try these strategies for improving your quality time.
1. Double-check the source
Just as with dog allergies, cat allergies can be blamed for entirely different reactions. You may be experiencing a reaction to your cat’s litter, in which case a simple switch of brand or litter-type can make all the difference. On the other hand, your allergies may be triggered by the feathers in a cat’s toys or the filling in his bedding. Check with your doctor and have a thorough allergy test to better understand exactly where the problem lies.
2. Explore filtration systems
HEPA filters can make a huge difference in the comfort level of a person with allergies. Choose a highly rated filter for your furnace, install filters in return registers, or consider a whole house filtration system as an add-on to your existing HVAC. Use smaller portable HEPA air purifiers throughout the home, especially in the bedroom and in other areas where you spend the most time. Finally, have your ductwork and wall and ceiling registers cleaned on a regular basis to cut down on airborne allergens.
3. Explore prevention options
There are many ways to ameliorate the effects of an allergic reaction. Daily antihistamine regimens with pills or nasal sprays or monthly allergy shots can safely keep you from reacting to your dog or cat’s dander. In addition, proper house cleaning is important for reducing your allergic reactions. Finally, create pet-free zones in those areas of the house where you spend the most time -- your bedroom and home office. Limiting your pet’s access to these areas can help ensure you also limit your allergic reactions.
Pets add so much to our lives and are a key element in our family memories. Don’t let an allergic reaction spoil your relationship with your fur baby. Learn exactly what is triggering your allergies and work with your doctor to develop an effective prevention strategy to keep you breathing easier.
Contributed to Your Home blog by Christy Murdock Edgar
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