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Pets and Allergies – Can You Still Keep a Pet?

You and your family love pets, but one or more of you is inclined to get hay fever after spending time with your fur friends. Puffy eyes and runny nose are no fun. Will you have to live without pets?

How serious is the allergy?

As long as the allergy is only a dose of hay fever, there are things you can do to minimize the effects of allergies. If it’s worse than that, you might have to look at homing out your pets, but as long as the allergy isn’t life-threatening, you can try a few simple fixes.

What causes pet allergies?

A lot of people think these come from pet hair, but ‘dander’, the skin flakes that they shed invisibly, are really to blame. Of course, pet hair usually includes dander, so getting a pet that doesn’t shed much is often a help.

Is there such a thing as a hypoallergenic pet?

Actually, there isn’t. This said, some breeds – those that don’t shed much – are less likely to provoke allergic reactions than others, but even siblings from the same litter can have different effects on people with allergies.

How can you minimize pet allergy effects?

Some basic tips and tricks that may be of help include:

  • Keeping pets outdoors. Make sure they have adequate shelter in bad weather.
  • Vacuuming with a powerful vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter daily.
  • Not allowing the pets into the allergic person’s bedroom.
  • Keeping pets out of carpeted areas (carpets trap more dander)
  • Wash hands after touching pets.
  • Bath dogs often – as much as once a week. Ask your vet for a gentle shampoo.
  • Consider getting an air cleaner for the allergy-sufferer’s room.

Cats or dogs, which are you most likely to be allergic to?

Unfortunately for our feline friends, you’re more likely to be allergic to a cat than a dog. If you have an allergy or asthma sufferer in your house, don’t consider getting a new cat. Not even bathing reduces allergens in cats.
If you already have a cat, try some of the strategies above, and try to minimize contact between your cat and your allergic family member. If the allergy is serious and minimizing contact doesn’t work, you may have to start looking for a good home for your pet.

Talk to your doctor

Before you blame your cat or your dog for an allergy, consult your doctor. It could turn out that you’re allergic to something else altogether. Only an allergy test will tell. You will be very sad if you home out your beloved pet only to find that it wasn’t the cause of your allergy in the first place!

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