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How to Live with Pets When You Have Allergies

A man sleeping with his small tan and white dog

Nothing is better than the bond between a pet and the owner, so why should allergies get in the way of that. Some of us have parents or children who may have an allergy to pets that you don’t. 

It’s possible you are the one with the allergy but you just don’t want to cope with not having a fur baby. Sniffle no more. Below are a few things you can try around the house to help keep allergies in check. 

Understand Your Allergies

The best way to understand your allergies is to take an allergy test at a local allergy doctor. These tests will show you if you're allergic to dogs, cats, mold, pollen, trees, grass, and various foods. Say you’ve been sneezing more around your dog. It may not be the dog at all but pollen from a tree in your backyard.

If the test shows that you or someone else is allergic to your pet, it is important to know what causes the allergic reaction to them. There are allergens (which trigger allergic symptoms) in saliva and skin glands that cling to an animal's dry skin. Otherwise known as dander and fur. The fur and dander stick to walls, carpets, and clothing.

Allergic symptoms can change from one person to the next. It is very important to understand your allergy symptoms and how to treat them when you have an allergic reaction. Common allergic reactions include mild sniffling, sneezing, and watery or irritated eyes. More extreme symptoms include rashes, hives, shortness of breath, and life-threatening asthma attacks.

These allergic reactions could be made worse if you are accidentally exposed to other things you're allergic to such as dust, mold, pollen, or even cigarette smoke. If you do have more severe allergies it is very important that you always carry around Benadryl, inhalers, and an EpiPen.

Another way people can be allergic to animals could depend on both the individual person or even the type of animal. A person with animal allergies may react less to dogs with soft, constantly growing hair, or one specific cat or dog may cause more or less of an allergic reaction than another animal of that same breed. For example, my stepfather is allergic to long-haired dogs but is fine with short-haired dogs.

You may hear claims about breeds of dogs and cats that are non-allergenic (don't cause an allergic reaction) or cats and dogs that are hypoallergenic (cause less of an allergic reaction). However, even hairless breeds may cause a severe allergic reaction. It just depends on the person and how their body reacts.

How to Reduce your Symptoms

If you or one of your family members has life-threatening symptoms, there isn’t much you can do to reduce their symptoms and it would be best if you found a new home for the pet.

However, if the symptoms are mild then there are easy ways to reduce allergens indoors so you and your pet can live together more comfortably.

Use HEPA Air Cleaners

These filters help clean and purify the air from any dander or dust. Also, try refraining from any dander catching furniture and curtains. So instead of getting a cloth couch or chair, try a leather one that is easy to dust. Also dusting often is a huge help when trying to control dander and pet dust within your home.

Bathe your Pet on a Weekly Basis

This helps reduce the number of dead skin cells and dander in their fur. Be careful not to wash your dog too much though as it can damage and dry their skin. Find a good dog shampoo that is going to be good for your dog’s skin. Some dogs can have skin allergies, so it is best to consult with your vet or animal care expert for a shampoo that is good for your pup.

Create an "Allergy-Free Zone"

This will most likely be the allergic person bedroom or maybe even a basement or upstairs area. In this area, the pet will not be allowed to enter the room, you should have an air purifier in the room and be sure to vacuum and dust the space often.

Make Sure You Know What You're Allergic To

If you go to the allergy doctor, specifically ask them to test you for pet dander just to make sure you know what is causing your reactions. Oftentimes, if you have allergies to one thing, you have allergies to a lot of other things as well. It is important to get rid of all possible allergens in your environment once you know what you're allergic to.

Try Treating your Allergies

Although Benadryl may help, it makes people sleepy. Try finding other alternatives like Zyrtec or Flonase that may help with your allergies. Nasal sprays, breathing treatments, and antihistamines can all help deal with common allergy symptoms. Make sure to find an allergy doctor that understands your commitment to staying with your pet.

For me personally, I am allergic to dogs. They make my asthma act up. But I did the research for hypoallergenic dogs and take my breathing and allergy medications every day and it is as if I am not allergic at all.

Don’t Let This be the End

Overall, good house cleaning, treatments, and making an “Allergy-Free Zone” should help with any allergy troubles. There are several animal lovers out there who manage their allergies and continue to live happily ever after with their pets.

Meet The Author 

Grant Withers

Canine Specialist & Writer

Grant is an award-winning writer for SitStay with a passion for pets and especially dogs! Grant loves writing about furry little goofballs and aims to educate pet parents about anything and everything regarding their dogs.

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