Apart from lonely snowdrops and crocuses stirring from beneath the thawed soil, the first looming of spring brings on the old allergies. People who are allergic to tree pollen know how bad this time of year can be, but what about pet owners who are allergic to their pets all year round?
Studies show that about 15% of people are allergic to cats and dogs; however, in a sample of more than 300 pet owners, only one out of five decided to give up their pets, as advised by their physicians. Since, for many owners, the benefits of keeping a dog outweigh the allergy issues, we can at least try to mitigate their effects.
What causes allergies to animals?
In most cases, the source of allergen is a protein found in dog saliva, but some owners are especially allergic to dog dander or flaking dry skin particles. While all dogs are potentially allergenic, the symptoms may vary depending on how much hair and skin flakes a certain breed sheds. Contrary to popular belief, there are no allergy-free breeds, as even the hairless breeds can cause a dog dander allergy.
7 Ways to Minimize Pet Dander Allergy
By no means does this mean you should keep your dog in the kennel all the time. You can still have plenty of quality time with your pet without letting him roam freely in your bedroom, sleep between your sheets, or go exploring the bathroom. Although there is still a possibility that allergens will spread to these areas by air, you can at least prevent your dog from ‘rubbing’ allergens into carpets, mats, and linens.
Keep your animals off the couch
While jumping and curling up on the couch might seem cute, keep in mind that any upholstered furniture can be ‘fertile ground’ for pet dander to settle in, augmenting your allergy symptoms. Allergy-resistant and faux leather furniture can help minimize dander levels. However, you should train your puppy from the first day to use his own bedding for naps, which should be kept away from the common family areas.
Keep your dog outside
Unlike cats, dogs are highly social pets that don’t like being left outside for long periods. However, if your pet dander allergy symptoms are persistent, keep your four-legged friend out for a couple of hours every day. However, even outside, your pet needs plenty of shelter, water, and comfortable bedding. If that’s impossible, at least try to quarantine your dog in a separate area while you’re using the shared space.
Use an air purifier
Whole-house or portable air purifiers with HEPA filters are the best types of purifiers available, removing up to 99% of airborne particles including pet dander, pollen, dust, and mold. Just one high-efficiency portable air purifier is enough for your home, as you can quickly move it around, focusing on areas where you or the allergic family member spends the most time. These purifiers use HEPA filtration and activated charcoal only, with no electronics or ionization.
Groom your pup regularly
If you’re the one with the pet dander allergy, ask a non-allergic family member to take your dog outside and brush it at least once a week. Regular brushing and bathing reduce the dander deposits around the house; however, if you wash your pet too often, the skin can lose its natural oils and become dry, which leads to more flaking. Oatmeal-based or hypoallergenic shampoos are the best products you can find.
Wash the pet beds
If your dog spends a lot of time napping and playing on his bedding, rest assured that those blankets hold a considerable accumulation of allergens. Although you should replace your pet’s bedding every few months by donating them, for example, to a local animal shelter, in between you should wash them regularly to reduce the exposure to dander.
Consider getting rid of the carpet
If you have a pet dander allergy, a wall-to-wall carpet is the worst option you can have. Allergens can stick between the fibers and are harder to vacuum out from these surfaces. Replace the carpet with laminate flooring or vinyl tiles which are both easier to keep clean. Many pet owners choose linoleum floors because they retain a bit of warmth while having excellent anti-allergenic properties.
You don’t have to wear a face mask or keep your dog outside permanently to deal with your pet dander allergy. There are many ways to deal with pet-inducing allergies and the best time to start putting them to practice is from day one. This way, both you and your adorable pup can learn how to co-exist without being at each other’s throats (pardon the pun).
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MY QUESTION FOR YOU:
Do you have a pet dander allergy? What do you do about it?
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