You grew up with pets and all of a sudden you can’t be in the same room with a furry creature. It happens to more people than you think. According to Dr. Derek Johnson, director of allergy and immunology at Temple University Children’s Medical Center, people can develop allergies at any time. If you think you have to forego the companionship of a pet, think again. Here’s how to live with your allergies and an animal:
More people are allergic to cats than to any other companion animal. Contrary to popular belief, allergies aren’t caused by fur, but by dander, or flakes of skin that are shed. One of the best things that you can do is to rip out your carpeting, if you’ve got any, and replace it with hard flooring. Wood, vinyl and laminate floors are easier to clean thoroughly. These floors can be swept and then mopped or steam cleaned, removing more skin cells than you would be able to get out of carpet.
Though there may be nothing better than cuddling with a pet at night, sharing your room with a pet can exacerbate allergies. If you want to keep a cat or dog in your home, limit their access. By keeping pets out of your bedroom and off of your bed, you’ll be able to sleep better at night and suffer less during the day.
Physicians and allergists recommend the use of HEPA air filters for anyone with allergies, but particularly to those people with pet allergies. The air purifier that you choose is really a matter of personal preference. If you choose to use portable air filtration systems, be sure to put one in the main area of the house and one in the bedroom of each person who suffers with allergies. Alternatively, you can install a whole house air purifier.
Even if you don’t allow your pets in your bedroom, dander will still find its way in. You carry dander with you on your shoes, on your clothing, in your hair and even on your skin. Wash your bedding at least once a week in the hottest setting on your washing machine. If you suffer from seasonal allergies as well, avoid hanging your bedding outside to dry. Instead, dry your sheets and pillow cases in the clothes dryer.
We touch our faces over a thousand times each day. Make sure that you wash your hands and arms, if you’re wearing short sleeves, after each contact with your cat or dog. Washing frequently will help to ensure that you are passing allergens from your hands to your mucus membranes. Wash using the hottest water that you can stand and scrub for at least one minute. Some people find it helpful to sing a short song like “Happy Birthday” or the “Alphabet” two or three times while washing as a sort of timer.
If you have allergies and want to share your home with a companion animal, speak with your physician or allergist for more tips. OTC and prescription medications may be necessary, along with the tips above, to keep you sniffle-free. You don’t have to live your life without an animal, you just have to live it cleanly.