Have you or a loved one been sniffing and sneezing around a new family pet? It may be caused by pet allergies. To reduce the allergic reaction and keep your furry or feathered friends apart of the family you’ll need to take Mindful steps.
People with pet allergies have supersensitive immune systems that mistake harmless proteins (allergens) found in pet dander (dead skin that sheds from fur and feathers), saliva, and urine for dangerous bacteria. Their body overreacts, causing symptoms like red, itchy eyes, a stuffy nose, and (since allergens can be airborne) coughing and wheezing. You can find out if your have pet allergies by visiting your doctor who can run blood tests and review your medical history. Or by visiting an allergist for a series of skin tests.
Unfortunately, many Americans test positive for pet allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), at least 15 percent of Americans who have allergies are allergic to pets. And many of these Americans are in fact pet owners to furry or feathered friends. But that doesn’t mean they are willing to give up their pets. In fact, one doctor reported that 75 percent of the pet allergy patients he sees ignores his recommendation that they give up their pets. So, if you have pet allergies and are a proud pet owner it’s important to talk to your doctor and weigh your options.
If your doctor says your pet allergies aren’t too severe consider these Mindful Animal tips to help you cope:
Find the right medication for you
Fortunately nowadays there are plenty of allergy medications to choose from if you’re suffering from pet allergies. Consider allergy shots, nose sprays, or antihistamine pills.
The best solution for keeping your pet while reducing your exposure to pet dander is keeping the animal outside. Though it is important to make sure that they have plenty of shade, water, and shelter.
If you want to keep your pets inside you’ll need some rules. For instance, if you live in a two-story home consider keeping the ground floor pet-friendly while limiting the pets’ access to the other floors. Or, consider turning your bedroom into a no-pet zone, which will reduce allergens in your own personal space.
A clean home is a pet allergy-free home. Start with the right tools like gloves and a face mask. And make sure to keep washing your hands as you go. Clean the carpets, flooring, and walls frequently. Change the air conditioning and heating filters and clean the vents in your home. Dust regularly and clean all the couches, blankets, and other fabrics that your pets’ dander could have seeped through.
Wash your pets
If possible wash your pets at least once a week (you can use special shampoo for your cats). Frequently clean out their litter boxes, crates, and cages. When you groom your pets do it outside to reduce dander in your home.