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Are You Allergic to Your Pet? Breathe Easy—You Can Still Keep Your Animal Companion!
Even though many individuals have realized the benefits of taking care of a furry friend, the truth remains that approximately 15–20 percent of the population is allergic to animals. What is the result? Countless people are caring for pets while being in ill and sad situations, and their cherished animals are to blame. Medical professionals use the term “allergen” to refer to the specific substance that triggers an allergic reaction. People who are allergic to something will react if they come into contact with the allergen or breathe it in. Symptoms may include redness, itching, watering in the eyes and nose, sneezing, coughing, a scratchy or sore throat, itchy skin, and the most serious symptom of allergic, difficulty breathing.
The most frequent causes of allergic reactions in humans who own dogs include proteins found in animal dander, saliva, urine, and sebaceous cells (old skin scales that animals periodically shed). It’s possible that an allergic reaction could be triggered by any animal, although cats are the most prevalent offenders. Exotic pets, such as ferrets, guinea pigs, birds, rabbits, and rodents, have been known to cause allergic reactions in some people. There is not a single breed or species to which humans can’t acquire an allergy. The severity of an allergic reaction is not related to the length or kind of the fur. People who suffer from allergies may find that certain pets are less irritating than others, but this is entirely dependent on the person and cannot be predicted.
After a diagnosis of an allergy to a pet has been made, a medical professional will frequently advise getting rid of the patient’s companion animal completely. Heartbreaking? Yes. Are there absolutely no alternatives? Not in every case. It is crucial to remember that most people have many allergies, including those to dust mites, mold, and pollen, all of which can be found in the home. The entire cumulative allergen load is what causes symptoms of allergic reactions. Therefore, if you get rid of some of the other things that trigger your allergies, you might not need to give up your pet after all. (On the other hand, if you decide to kick your pet out of the house, this might not fix your issues right away.) You also need to be prepared to put in the time and effort required to clean your living environment, reduce your future exposure to allergens, and locate a doctor who is willing to collaborate with you. Here are some useful advice:
Improving the Immediate Environment
- Make sure there are no allergens in the room. Most of the time, a bedroom is the most ideal and convenient option. You may ensure that you will spend at least eight hours free from allergies each night without having to do anything more than prohibit your pet from accessing this room. It is recommended that materials that are hypoallergenic be used for bedding and pillows.
- Limit textiles. Rugs, curtains, and upholstery are common places in the home where allergens can accumulate; therefore, you should do everything you can to reduce or get rid of their presence. If you decide to maintain any fabrics, you should clean them with steam regularly. The best option for furniture is one that is covered in cotton, and window treatments that can be easily cleaned include washable blinds or shades. There is also the option of covering your furniture with sheets or blankets that can be easily removed and laundered regularly.
- Frequent vacuuming with a machine that features a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filter or an electrostatic bag that can be thrown away is highly recommended. Other types of bags will prevent allergens from being expelled from the vacuum, but others will not.
- Put in an air purifier that has a HEPA filter if you can afford it. Because the air inside our contemporary, energy-efficient homes is typically full of allergens, it is prudent to allow some fresh air inside daily. Use anti-allergen room sprays. The allergies are rendered harmless after being deactivated by these sprays. Inquire with your allergist about the products they prescribe.
- Regular cleaning of the litter box is required. Make use of a filler that is low in dust and odorless. Clumping litter together is recommended.
- Dust regularly. Cleaning the walls will also help reduce the number of allergens in the air.
- Invest in cages and bedding for your pet that is easily washable and can be cleaned regularly.
Decontaminating Your Pet
- At a minimum of once every week, bathe your pet. Your veterinarian should be able to recommend a shampoo for your dog that won’t cause his skin to get dry. The allergens that can be found accumulated in an animal’s fur can be removed through bathing.
- Wipe your pet with a product formulated to prevent dander. Wipe your pet down with the product. Inquire with your veterinarian about a product that is suitable for use on animals that clean themselves often.
- Take note of any indications that your companion animal may be suffering from dermatitis. Dermatitis frequently causes an increased rate of skin and fur shedding, which might increase a person’s contact with allergens.
- Frequent brushing or combing of your pet is recommended. If you can, try to complete this task in the fresh air. (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals advises against letting cats roam free outside the home; therefore, if you do take your cat outside, he should be on a harness and leash.)
Taking Care of Yourself
- Have someone else clean the house, take care of the litter box, and wash, wipe, and brush the pets if at all possible. Wear a dust mask if you need to clean the house or replace the litter.
- After handling your pet and before contacting your face, wash your hands. Your nose and eyes are particularly vulnerable to allergens in those areas.
- Choose one of your most easily washable outfits to serve as your “pet outfit”. When playing or cuddling with your companion, wear it so that you won’t infect other garments.
- Find a physician. Identify a doctor, preferably an allergy expert, who can confirm that your pet is the source of your allergies and who can also aid you with symptom relief. Immunotherapy (desensitizing shots) and medication can frequently let you and your companion animal live happily ever after.