Author: Isabella Lovett
Allergies to pet fur are common, says the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, especially if you have asthma or other allergies. Around three in 10 people in the U.S. can be allergic to their dogs or cats, but fortunately, that doesn’t have to mean they cannot live without their furry friends. If you have a pet and you have symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, rashes on the face or neck, or itching in the eyes and nose, visiting an allergologist is a good idea. Your doctor can perform a blood or skin test to discover whether or not you are allergic to dog or cat allergens. If the specialist discovers a pet allergy and it is severe, they may recommend that you live in a different place to your usual place of residence. This is because allergens can last for months after a dog or cat leaves an affected home. If this is impossible or you simply do not want to live without your dog, the following tips may help.
Ensure Your Bedroom Or Main Living Space Is Allergen-Free
Dogs tend to make their way through various rooms in a home, as they love being close to their human companions. However, it is important to create a safe haven for yourself, where allergens won’t interfere with your sleep quality or provoke unpleasant symptoms if, for instance, you work from home. Invest in a quality HEPA filter for this space. HEPA filters are particularly useful because they can filter particles as small as 0.3 microns in size. Cover beds, desks, sofas, and chairs in an impermeable cover. When the time comes to buy new furniture, opt for easy-to-clean fabrics such as leather and vinyl. Avoid upholstery, fabric curtains, and carpeted floors. Hard materials are easier to clean with a powerful steam vacuum.
Cleaning Tips For An Allergen-Free Space
In order to catch any stray fur or other allergens that can blow into your safe spot, frequent cleaning is important. Avoid toxic cleaning products that provoke allergies. Read the ingredients list of any products you purchase, avoiding those that contain formaldehyde, ammonia, and sodium lauryl sulfate (frequently found in detergents and soaps). Instead of being product-dependent, invest in a powerful steam cleaner, some of which are specifically designed to clean homes with animals in them.
Hypoallergenic Dog Breeds Don’t Exist
If you don’t already have a dog and you are thinking of getting one, a question that may pop into your mind is, ‘Do hypoallergenic dog breeds exist?’ Actually, the idea that only furry dogs cause pet allergies is false, since the main source of allergens are contained in pet urine, saliva and dander, which may be present on floors and furniture even when a dog doesn’t shed fur. In general, there are tips that can help when selecting a dog breed. The Mayo Clinic recommends, for instance, that you choose smaller dogs (which produce less dander than big dogs) and that you use a vent filter to help reduce the pet allergen load in your home. Another way to reduce allergen loads is to bathe your pet once a week; this will remove dander from his or her coat.
Tips From The American Kennel Club
The American Kennel Club (AKC) recommends opting for breeds with non-shedding coats. These include the poodle, American hairless terrier, Bichone frise, maltese, Peruvian Inca orchid (which is also hairless), and Spanish water dog. However, as mentioned, no specific breed guarantees you will not have symptoms. Reactions to specific dogs also vary from individual to individual, so you may have to spend time with different dogs to ascertain the effect they have on your condition. If your allergies are severe, then having a dog as a pet may simply be a bad idea. As stated by the AKC, “On the rare occasion that you can’t find the right match… it might be wiser to not acquire a dog, rather than bring one home only to relinquish it for rescue.”
If you have a pet allergy but you cannot conceive of life without your four-pawed friend, there are many steps you can take to reduce your symptoms. These include creating allergen-free spaces and cleaning both your pet and your home frequently with non-toxic products. If you don’t have a dog, then try being around low-shedding breeds to see if it makes a difference. You may be surprised to find that one breed allegedly thought to cause many symptoms is your perfect match. This will only be the case, of course, if your allergy to pets is not severe.