Having Allergies Doesn't Mean Passing on Pets

Establish your bedroom as a pet-free zone. More than one third of our lives is spent sleeping, and it's important to make that time less stressful for the body. Close off your bedroom and reduce dust-collecting surfaces by removing carpets and rugs, wall hangings, stuffed animals and collectibles from the room. Invest in an air purifier, keep air ducts and ceiling fans clean, and vacuum often. Banish feather pillows and down comforters. Choose hypo-allergenic bedding and use zippered, dustproof covers on the mattress and pillows. Combat dust mites by washing bedding frequently, in hot water. And yes, I mean it about the pets: Although there's not a pet lover alive who doesn't enjoy a purring cat on the bed, keeping the bedroom allergen-free is probably a necessary compromise for allergy sufferers.

Try to limit exposure to other allergens. Avoid cleaning solutions, cigarette smoke and strong perfumes, and consider using a mask when doing yard work. Or better yet, get someone else to mow.

Keep your pets clean and well-groomed. The best situation is for a non-allergic member of the family to take over these pet care chores. Frequent bathing and brushing of pets is a must — for cats as well as dogs. If you live alone, or if everyone in your house is allergic, consider sending your pet out for grooming. Brushing should be done outside — wear a mask and wash your hands afterward to minimize the irritation. And since allergens are in urine as well as saliva, get someone else to clean the litterbox — or use the mask and hand-washing approach if that’s not possible.

The most import tip I can offer? Wash your hands. If you get in the habit of washing your hands after petting an animal, you’ll be surprised how much less often you’ll be dealing with itchy, watery eyes and the sniffles. That’s because your own hands are the means by which allergy triggers get delivered to your eyes and nose.

We veterinarians, like all health-care professionals, wash our hands constantly. And that’s probably a large part of the reason why our own allergies don't slow us down at work, or keep us from being around the animals we love.


Read more Vetstreet articles about house cleaning and dealing with allergies:

8 Spring Cleaning Tips for Pet Owners

You'd Be Surprised Where Pet Hair Lurks

Are Your Guests Allergic to Pets? Here Are 5 Ways to Make Them More Comfortable

3 Ways to Blast Pet Mess

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