Bringing home a new pet is an exciting event. But that excitement can give way to sniffles, itches, and tears if someone in your home is allergic to the new pet. The good news is there are things you can do to minimize pet allergies in your home.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 15 percent of people are allergic to dogs or cats. Common symptoms of pet allergies are sniffling, sneezing, and watery, itchy eyes. Out of the two million people who are allergic to cats in the U.S., about a third of them live with at least one cat in their household, despite their allergies.
All Animals Can Cause Allergies
Most allergists agree that contrary to popular belief, there are no “non-allergenic” breeds of dogs or cats. Even hairless breeds, and soft-haired breeds like poodles can cause allergies. This is because the hair is not the part of the animal that causes allergies. Allergens are produced in the saliva, skin glands, and urine. The most common cause is dry skin called dander. So it’s possible to be allergic to any animal, even one that's bald. Symptoms may be worse around animals with more hair simply because the allergens stick to the hair and are easy transferred when we pet the animal.
7 Tips to Minimize Pet Allergies
Don’t end up in the dog house because of your pet. Follow these simple tips to keep allergy symptoms to a minimum.
• Start slow If you are thinking about getting a pet but suspect you might be allergic, do a test drive first. Spend some time with a friend’s dog or cat, or offer to pet-sit for a few days to see what happens before you commit to providing a life-long home to an animal.
• Create a “pet free” zone. Much as many pet owners love to sleep with their pets, the best choice is the bedroom of the person who is allergic. Pets should never be allowed in this room.
• Use HEPA air cleaners. High-efficiency Particulate-arresting (HEPA) filters can remove almost all of the animal dander from the air.