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How To Live Happily with Pets and Allergies

How To Live Happily with Pets and Allergies

Pet dander is one of the most common allergens. It can be shed from any animal that has fur, hair, or feathers. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says an estimated 15% to 20% of people are allergic to animals.

Sneezing, itching eyes, and nasal congestion are some of the many unpleasant symptoms you may experience if you are allergic to pet dander. Sadly, many people with pet allergies avoid getting pets for this reason or rehome their pets shortly after discovering they have allergies.

Fortunately, there are many things you can do to happily coexist with your pet and keep your allergy symptoms mild and to a minimum. Here are steps you can take to reduce your pet dander allergies, and how to contact Lompoc Valley Medical Center if you need treatment for allergy symptoms.

Get An Allergy Test

The first step to take if you think you are allergic to pet dander is to get an allergy test. An allergy test can confirm whether it’s pet dander, you’re truly allergic to.

Sometimes, things like pollen and dust can get trapped in your pet’s fur and transfer to your clothes, furniture, and bedding. It’s possible your allergy symptoms are being triggered by substances like these and not by your pet.

Pet dander allergies can be diagnosed with a skin test or blood test. During an allergy skin test, your doctor will prick your skin and expose you to pet dander to see if you have an allergic reaction. During an allergy blood test, your doctor will draw a small amount of blood from a vein in your arm and send it to the lab, where it can be checked for antibodies that cause allergies.

If you are diagnosed with an allergy to animal dander, your doctor can discuss the next steps to take, including available treatments.

Establish An Allergy-Free Safe Zone

An allergy-free safe zone provides you with a safe space to spend time in if you need a clear break from your pet and your allergy symptoms. Many people with pet dander allergies designate their bedroom as their safe zone, as it can lead to better nights of sleep without congestion and discomfort.

Exposing pets to your pillowcases and bedding can lead to painful, itching eyes and severe symptoms that could take hours to clear after you wake. Keep the door to your bedroom closed at all times to prevent your pet from entering. Create a cozy bedtime space for your pet in another room with a night light, toys, and other creature comforts that can keep it happy.

Bathe Your Pet Once a Week

Bathe your pet at least once a week to reduce the amount of dander on its hair and skin. Inform your vet about your pet dander allergies, and ask for recommendations on the best shampoos to use on your pet type and breed that can help reduce dander without irritating their skin.

Your vet can also provide tips on how to best bathe your pet, especially if you have a cat or another animal that is reluctant or difficult to bathe. If you are unable to bathe your pet easily, consider hiring a pet groomer who has the experience and equipment needed to simplify the process and make it stress-free.

Vacuum Regularly

Vacuum your rugs, carpets, and furniture regularly to remove pet dander. Many newer vacuums come with special attachments designed specifically to thoroughly remove pet hair. If possible, look for a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. HEPA filters can trap small particles like pet dander, which tend to be difficult to trap with regular filters, given how lightweight and sticky they can be.

Another option is to cover your furniture with washable slipcovers and throws that can easily be removed and cleaned as often as needed. You could also consider assigning the chore of vacuuming to someone in your home who isn’t allergic to pet dander.

Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands after every time you pet or handle your animal. Any pet dander that remains on your hands can easily trigger allergy symptoms if you touch your nose, eyes, or mouth. If you take your pet for walks or to the park, bring along sanitizing wipes or a damp rag that can keep your hands free of dander until you come back home.

Reduce Fabrics In Your Home

Many allergens, including dust mites, pollen, and animal dander, can easily get trapped in curtains, rugs, and upholstery. If you cannot clean or wash these items frequently, your allergy symptoms will stick around long-term.

Look for ways to reduce the number of fabrics you have in your home. For instance, swap out fabric-covered couches and chairs with those made of leather, and swap out fabric curtains for washable shades and blinds. If you live in a home with old carpet, consider tearing out the carpet and installing vinyl or wood flooring that is easier to sweep and keep clean.

Keep the Litter Box Clean

If you have a cat, clean its litter box more frequently than recommended. Litter boxes can trap cat hair and dander over several days.

Also, it’s possible that some types of kitty litter could be making your allergies worse—especially clay litter that produces lots of dust when your cat buries its waste. If possible, try to use clumping litter or dust- and perfume-free litter that can help tame your allergy symptoms.

Use Anti-Allergen Sprays

Anti-allergen sprays can neutralize many allergens upon contact—including dust mites, pollen, and pet dander. These sprays can be applied to most surfaces, including furniture and clothing, and can help significantly reduce your symptoms.

Browse anti-allergen sprays in the household cleaning supplies section of your favorite stores, and look for brands that specifically appeal to people with your type of pet.

Brush Your Pet Outdoors

Brushing your pet can help with collecting loose hairs that are shedding, especially right before it gets hot during the spring or summer. It can also help remove debris like dust, dirt, and pollen that gets trapped in your pet’s hair or fur.

Buy the right type of brush for your pet and brush it as frequently as needed. Avoid brushing your pet indoors, as this could lead to the circulation of pet dander that triggers your allergy symptoms. Stick to brushing your pet outdoors at all times.

Wear a Designated Pet Outfit

Put together a designated outfit to wear only when you are playing or cuddling with your pet, or when taking it to the vet or a park where it will likely come into contact with other animals. Wear the outfit only when spending time with your pet, and change back into your original outfit when you are done. This can help prevent your symptoms from flaring for the rest of the day after your clothing has attracted pet dander.

Put Clothes On Your Pet

If your pet tolerates it, consider putting clothing on it to limit contact between you and your pet’s skin. Clothing can also help capture allergens like dust, pollen, and mold that your pet can pick up when outdoors.

Dress your pet in t-shirts or in clothes that are specially designed for your type of pet. You may need to experiment with different styles of clothing and fabrics before you find some that your pet feels comfortable in.

Avoid Pet Kisses

Dog and cat saliva contains allergens that can trigger reactions like itching and swelling when it comes into contact with your skin. Cats use their saliva to clean themselves, which is partly why they are more likely to cause allergies than dogs, reports the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.

Avoid letting your pets lick you or kiss you, as this could trigger your symptoms. If you have a puppy, try teaching it early on not to lick or kiss others who may also be allergic to pet dander and saliva.

Work With An Allergist

An allergist is a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and allergies. If you are unable to manage your allergies properly but don’t want to rehome your pet, an allergist can work with you to find one or more treatments that can reduce your symptoms. Common treatments for animal allergies include medications, nasal irrigation, and immunotherapy.

Antihistamines can help reduce your immune system response to pet dander, while corticosteroids can reduce inflammation. Decongestants can help you breathe more easily.

Nasal irrigation can help flush irritants from your sinuses, while immunotherapy can train your immune system not to be bothered by pet dander.

You may need to try several treatments before you find one that works best for you. It IS possible to live happily with your pet while managing animal allergies, especially if you work with an experienced allergist who can guide you toward the best treatments.

Managing Your Allergies With Lompoc Valley Medical Center

Lompoc Valley Medical Center offers a wide range of healthcare services, including primary care services for patients who need treatment for allergies and asthma.

If you need treatment for allergies or asthma, our team of experienced medical doctors can work with you to find the right treatment and help you improve your condition. Contact us today at (805) 737-3382 to request an appointment and learn more about our many healthcare services.