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Help! I’m Allergic to my Pet!


allergy-18656_960_720A pet allergy can develop suddenly, leaving owners scrambling to determine how to manage their comfort while fairly treating their pet.  Many dogs are relinquished to shelters due to an owner’s allergies, but there are a number of strategies that can mitigate symptoms.

Get a Diagnosis
First and foremost, it is important to get an official diagnosis from an allergy specialist before determining your allergies stem from your dog.  Oftentimes, people have multiple allergies that are cumulative.  For instance, you may have mild allergies to your dog’s fur and saliva, but no symptoms until specific pollen is present.  Determining the exact cause can help you best develop a plan for treatment.

Create an Allergy Free Zone
There should be a room in your house – preferably the bedroom – where your dog is not allowed.  This will help you not only sleep better at night and limit your exposure to the allergens during the day, but also provides a respite when your allergies get the best of you.  If possible, change clothes before entering your allergy free zone in order to further minimize contamination.

Give Weekly Baths
If you are allergic to your dog’s dander, giving a weekly bath can minimize the effect of this allergen on your immune system.  Some studies have even shown that pet dander can be reduced by 84% with this method.  Look for an anti-dander shampoo to further maximize the benefit of a weekly bath.

Invest in a HEPA Filter
A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can be a lifesaver for someone allergic to a pet.  The filter works by capturing the fine particles in a sieve-like filter from the air.  Although pricey (upwards of several hundred dollars), HEPA filters can be the difference between feeling comfortable or miserable in your own home.

Consider Medication or Allergy Shots
Over the counter antihistamines can provide relief for mild-to-moderate allergy symptoms by alleviating itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose.  For asthma-like symptoms, prescription allergy medication is required.  Another option is allergy shots, which help an allergy sufferer develop natural protection against allergens – much in the same way as vaccines.  However, allergy shots require patience, as the effects may not be apparent for a full year.

Do More Housework
Pet dander and saliva can linger in areas around your home, further exacerbating discomfort.  Everything that your dog comes into contact with, including walls, floors, furniture, and bedding should be washed weekly.

More Frequent Hand Washing
In addition to frequently cleaning your dog and your house, making sure your hands and face are routinely cleaned is important as well.  Wash your hands every time you touch anything your dog has come into contact with, and use a gentle cleanser to remove irritating dander from your face, as well.

Don’t Give Up on Your Pet
While allergies can be difficult to deal with, it is important that you not give up your dog.  Exhaust each option and make appropriate changes in your home.  For instance, a leather couch will be easier to clean than an upholstered one, and hardwood floors will attract less dander than carpet.

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Anna Weber

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