It can be heartbreaking to discover your furry friend is the one making you sneeze and giving you itchy, watery eyes. You might assume this means no more snuggling your furry pal, but on the contrary, you're not destined for a pet-free life. Depending on the severity of your pet allergies, a few adjustments could make living with your dog or cat much more manageable.
How Can I Live with My Pet Allergies?
Despite what you might hear, there's no such thing as a 100% hypoallergenic pet. (Although there are definitely some cats and dogs that could better suit allergy-prone individuals.) According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), approximately 30% of people in the US have pet allergies. If you're one of them, here are 10 things you can do to reduce allergy symptoms.
1. Keep Up with Regular Grooming
Regular brushing and baths are essential to rid your pet’s fur of all the hidden nasties it's hiding. Your pal carries all sorts of things in their coat, so routine grooming can reduce the amount of allergens that end up in your home.
Brushing also helps eliminate dead and loose hairs and reduces shedding. Of course, if at all possible, enlist someone else in the household to handle the brushing and bathing to decrease your exposure to allergens. If there's no one else, at least wear a mask and safety glasses and avoid touching your eyes. Or, if your budget allows, seek a professional groomer to handle the job.
2. Add the FurDozer to Your Daily Routine
An effective pet hair tool is critical when you have a furry friend that sheds. If you have pet allergies, adding a tool like the FurDozer to your allergy-fighting arsenal is even more imperative. Keep your furniture, blankets, and even your car pet-hair free with a few easy swipes.
3. Choose Easy to Clean Furnishings and Window Treatments
Opt for items that are easier to clean and don't hold onto pet hair. For example, instead of curtains, use blinds. Choose pet-friendly fabrics like leather and microfiber for furniture.
4. Go Minimal with Carpet and Rugs
Carpet is a magnet for pet hair and other allergens. It holds onto everything, keeping unpleasant things inside your home, no matter how often you vacuum. Instead of carpet, go with hard surface flooring. If you want to add rugs, opt for low-pile styles.
5. Limit Your Pet's Access to Furniture and Certain Areas
Create designated areas for your pet and restrict their access to other parts of your home. As much as you love cuddling with your fur baby, your bedroom (and, most importantly, your bed) should be off-limits. Train your pet to stay off of the furniture, or only allow them on a few key pieces that are easy to clean.
Providing your dog or cat with a cozy bed of their own and a comfortable hangout space can encourage them to follow the boundary rules. Make a catio for your cute kitty, or give your dog a designated corner of the den with lots of fun toys.
6. Use HEPA Air Filters
The EPA'S Guide to Air Cleaners in the Home suggests that using air purifiers with HEPA filters can provide relief to people dealing with pet allergies. Likewise, using a HEPA filter with your HVAC system is also helpful. You can even find vacuums that feature HEPA filters. Make sure to change filters as directed and clean them when applicable according to the manufacturer's instructions.
7. Clean and Tidy the House Often
Okay, so this tip might not be your favorite since not many people actually love to clean. But regularly dusting, vacuuming, and tidying up your home goes a long way to reducing allergens. Wear a mask when you clean and concentrate on keeping clutter to a minimum. After all, the fewer things you have, the easier your house is to clean. Plus, fewer things mean allergens have less to cling to.
8. Use Allergy-Approved Bedding
It's estimated that people spend roughly one-third of their lives sleeping (or trying to). In other words, you spend a lot of time in your bed, so investing in the right kind of bedding is a big part of taking control of your allergies. Companies like Mission Allergy specialize in sheets, pillows, mattress covers, and more, all geared toward reducing allergy symptoms.
Keeping your bedding clean is also critical, and ideally, you should wash everything weekly. However, it's worth repeating if you're allergic to your pet, it's best to keep them off your bed (and out of your bedroom). Don’t forget to regularly clean your pet’s belongings, too.
9. Wipe Down Pets After They've Been Outside
Sometimes, your pet might trigger your allergies because of what they’re bringing in from outside. Your pet’s fur holds onto pollen and other allergens that could potentially cause your symptoms. After your dog or cat has spent some time outside, wipe them down with some pet wipes or baby wipes. If you’ve just walked your pup, don’t forget to wipe down your dog's leash, too.
10. Talk with an Allergist
Talking with an allergist can be a life changer when you’re dealing with ongoing symptoms. There are various treatments, including allergy shots, steroidal medications, and antihistamines. If allergy testing confirms you’re allergic to your pet, let your allergist know that you’re committed to keeping your furry pal.
Do Pet Allergies Go Away?
Pet allergies don't go away completely. However, you can utilize several treatments and medications that help reduce your allergic reaction. For example, allergy shots work over an extended period to desensitize you to specific allergens. Therefore, you no longer have an intense reaction when exposed to them.
But allergies can be fickle. What gets better could come back later, or you may find you develop new allergies later in life. For these reasons, having an allergist you trust, who knows your medical history, is vital to your allergy treatment plan.
Can You Build Up an Immunity to Pet Allergies?
An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system has an exaggerated reaction to various substances it perceives as a threat. Immunotherapy can help reduce your reaction to certain allergens.
It works overtime to help your immune system get used to whatever is causing the reaction. The process can take a few years before you see long-term results. But if effective, you could notice a significant reduction in your symptoms. Talk with your allergist to see if immunotherapy is a viable option for your specific allergies.
To Sneeze, or Not to Sneeze
Being allergic to your pet doesn’t automatically mean you need to find them a new home. If this is your allergist's only suggestion, get a second opinion. You can share a happy home with your furry friend with a few behavioral and environmental changes and an allergist who understands your commitment to your pet.
For more helpful tips on pet-related things, check out the rest of the Neater Pets blog. Do you struggle with pet allergies? Tell us some of the things you’ve tried that have made a difference in your home.