How To Live With Pet Allergies Without Giving Up Your Pet

It always breaks my heart when I hear about someone who had to give up a pet because a family member became allergic.  And I often wonder whether there wouldn’t have been options  before  making such a drastic, and painful decision, which is why I was delighted to come across this article on Adopt-a-Pet’s blog.  Yes, the tips presented below require some effort, but isn’t the effort worth it if it means keeping a beloved family pet?

Tips to Reduce Pet Allergies

Guest Post by Jennifer, Adopt-a-Pet

You can reduce or even eliminate allergies to your family pets, just by following some very simple steps.  Cats and dogs are the most common pets that cause human allergic reactions. While it is rare for a human’s allergies to a pet to be so severe (and unresponsive when all these tips are used) that they can no longer live with that pet, that doesn’t mean they are fun. So try our easy tips below, and you won’t have to give away your family dog or cat to solve an allergy problem in yourself or your kids!

Step 1: Reduce allergens in your life.

The more your body is having to put up a “fight” to allergens, the harder it is for it to win. Do you know everything you might be even slightly allergic to? An allergist can test you for a few dozen allergens, but in the battle against allergies, it may be easier to start out with reducing as much as possible the most common allergens in your life. Pet dander, dust, mold, pollen… they all float in our home’s air and stick to every surface! When you reduce ALL the allergens in your home, you reduce your allergic reaction to your pet. Here are just some ideas how:

  • clean your house daily with natural, perfume free cleaning products
  • vacuum what you cannot mop, such as couches, your mattress
  • get a sealed “allergy” vacuum – that filters & traps dust/allergens inside
  • use pet hair rollers daily (or more often!) on fabric surfaces – we like the sticky washable ones
  • replace carpet with hard surface flooring, or keep pets out of carpeted rooms
  • if you cannot remove carpet, steam clean monthly (or weekly/biweekly)
  • if you must have rugs, replace wool with cotton, & wash using 140 degree+ water weekly
  • replace curtains with hard surface window coverings that can be wiped down weekly
  • invest in high-quality HEPA air purifier – starting with one in the bedroom
  • cover mattresses and pillows with specially designed allergy covers
  • wash blankets weekly on hot using hypo allergenic laundry soap
  • wash your clothes and  yourself in non-perfumed soap and shampoo
  • leave your shoes at the door to avoid tracking allergens inside
  • try eliminating or drastically reducing dairy (milk, eggs) from your diet
  • try eliminating other common food allergens from your diet (wheat, soy, peanuts)
  • avoid scented body care products

Step 2: Reduce allergens from your pet

If you are having a reaction to a newly adopted pet, often simply letting another family member or friend (or paid pet cleaner) handle that pet and cleaning as much as possible for you, while you slowly over a few weeks get used to that new pet, can be a huge help. Here are some other tips to try to help as well:

  • wash your hands immediately after handling your new pet
  • brush your pet daily – dogs outside your home, cats in a bathroom with a closed door, surfaces wiped off  afterward (ideally done by a nonallergic family member)
  • after brushing, using a towel dampened with water, wipe off their fur, then wash towel (do not reuse)
  • bathe dogs weekly – use a gentle moisturizing unscented pet shampoo, or alternate one week with just an unscented conditioner
  • once a week, wipe down pet using a pet allergen reducing liquid like Allerpet for Cats or Dogs (about $7) available in pet supply stores or online.
  • use a damp towel to wipe down pets that go outside, before they come inside, to wipe off outside allergens
  • clean litterboxes daily, outside, and wash out completely weekly
  • use unscented dust-free cat litter
  • wash pet beds weekly in unscented laundry soap & hot water
  • wash your pet’s toys weekly
  • feed your pets premium food (helps keep skin healthy)
  • if your pet has dry or flaking skin, with your vet’s approval, feed a skin & coat supplement
  • keep pets out of your bedroom… or at least off the bed!

Then, slowly, one by one… You may need to start out using ALL the tips above to reduce your allergies enough to be comfortable. But then, try not using one, for a few weeks, and see how you do! For example, let’s say you’d prefer to have your pets sleep in your bedroom. However, at first, you may do best with no pets in you bedroom, keeping the door closed. Then in a few weeks (or months), try the door open with a baby gate or screen keeping pets out. Then allowed them in the room but not while you are in there sleeping. Then try your pets sleeping on the floor… and then, if you want, a pet on the bed! If at any point your allergies become uncomfortable, take one step back.

How I got to be an “expert” on pet allergies… I suffered from allergies my entire childhood. I had asthma and hay fever and was allergic to pretty much anything that bloomed or walked on four legs! I spent the latter half of my childhood living in the lush countryside with all sorts of animals, so I have decades of experience dealing with allergies to pets. I still have to follow many of the steps below to keep it that way, and new pets and certain times of the year or environments (a field of goldenrod) will make my nose and eyes tingle, but that mild reaction is just a faint reminder of the full-blown inability to breath, itchy eyes, and runny nose symptoms I used to suffer from on a daily basis.

I now live in a home with many dogs and cats and am almost totally allergy (and medication) free!

Disclaimer: these are just my personal tips. They are not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor.

Adopt-a-Pet.com is a non-profit pet adoption charity that helps shelters, humane societies, SPCAs, pet rescue groups, and pet adoption agencies advertise their homeless pets to adopters for free. They’re all about getting homeless pets into homes. We use the power of TV, the Internet and a toll-free phone number to connect adopters with shelter pets and help pets go from alone to adopted. We’re working to help the good people at shelters and rescue groups find homes for their pets.  Hundreds of thousands of pets are waiting for new homes – and you can find them on Adopt-a-Pet’s searchable database!

Photo by Photos8.com

11 Comments on How To Live With Pet Allergies Without Giving Up Your Pet

  1. Ingrid
    October 19, 2010 at 6:27 am (6 years ago)

    Rose, thanks for the additional suggestions. I love your experience with Reiki helping your students. I’ve treated pets with allergies with Reiki and have seen good results with it. Ultimately, every manifestation of disease is an energy imbalance, which is why energy therapies such as Reiki can make such a big difference.

    Thanks, Mason!

    Reply
  2. Rose De Dan, Wild Reiki and Shamanic Healing
    October 18, 2010 at 10:27 pm (6 years ago)

    Hi Ingrid, wonderful information which I will share. There are many people who would love to have an animal companion in their lives and these tips can help.

    As someone who has had students with allergies attend my classes, which are held in my home office where animals are present, I would add three more tips.

    1. Consume organic food as much as possible rather than processed or non-organic.

    2. Consider taking a Reiki class. So far every one of my students who has had allergies reports a lessening of the symptoms after the first class (combined with daily self-treatment and practice) and for all (so far) an elimination of the symptoms with a second class (Level II). As an energy healer this tells me that allergies to animal dander are related to an energetic imbalance rather than being genetic.

    3. Consider a homeopathic remedy to lessen or eliminate response around animals. BioAllers has a nasal spray that works well.

    Reply
  3. Ingrid
    October 18, 2010 at 9:20 pm (6 years ago)

    Angie, I hope it can help save some cats (or dogs, for that matter) from being returned to shelters.

    Reply
  4. Angie, Catladyland/Katt Food
    October 18, 2010 at 2:09 pm (6 years ago)

    This is great. I think many people think that the only option is to get rid of the cat — I hope this will help inform 🙂

    Reply
  5. Ingrid
    October 18, 2010 at 2:07 pm (6 years ago)

    Karen and Gerard, it can be a lot of work, and I, too, am grateful that I’m not allergic.

    Thanks, Max.

    Bernadette, these steps really can make a difference. Thanks for sharing the article on Undercover Kitty!

    Reply
  6. animalartist
    October 18, 2010 at 10:45 am (6 years ago)

    Thanks for sharing–sometimes “allergies” is just a convenient excuse, but I’ve known people who really did these things and it worked, allowing them to keep their pets, especially cats.

    Reply
  7. Max the Quilt Cat
    October 18, 2010 at 7:22 am (6 years ago)

    Great information. Thanks for taking the time to put that out there so people can be around us easier.

    *pawhugs*

    Reply
  8. Karen and Gerard
    October 18, 2010 at 7:11 am (6 years ago)

    This is way too much work! I’m glad we are not allergic.

    Reply

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