Nobody wants to believe that their favorite furry companion could be responsible for their allergy symptoms, but if petting your cat or dog quickly devolves into sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, itching, or even hives, then you’ll have to consider the possibility that you’re allergic to Fido. Of course, you’ll want to take a scratch test to confirm and then begin to take steps to rid yourself of the symptoms. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that your beloved family pet will soon find himself in a shelter. There are many ways to combat your symptoms so that you can peacefully (and healthfully) cohabitate with your pets. Here are just a few strategies to try.
1. Medication. This is the most common method of treating allergy symptoms, whether they originate from pollen, dust, or pets. Your doctor can likely provide you with several options for medication, some of which may even suit the needs of those with holistic sensibilities. However, you will almost certainly have to take them consistently in order to ensure that symptoms do not reappear.
2. Desensitization therapy. If the idea of taking medication for the rest of your life isn’t terribly appealing, perhaps you’d rather undergo therapy to rid yourself of your allergies for good. Desensitization therapies are not guaranteed, but there’s a good possibility that they could leave you allergy-free in the long run. They involve the use of a course of shots intended to expose you to the allergens in question, which should then desensitize your immune system so that when you come in contact with these allergens in the real world, they won’t provoke an immune response. Of course, you might have to undergo therapy for several months or even years to secure results, but if you simply can’t live without pets, it may be worth it.
3. Air purifiers. Placing air purifiers with HEPA filters throughout your home is an excellent way to pull allergens from the environment in order to reduce your symptoms. These devices can be expensive (especially with frequent filter replacements), but they can dramatically clean the air in your home, to everyone’s benefit.
4. Clean pets. Did you know that most people who suffer from pet allergies are actually reacting to dander, not fur? Dander is produced when dead skin cells slough off. So while it is important to clean your pets regularly, you’ll probably want to include a regimen that exfoliates and moisturizes their skin. Natural cleansers that include oatmeal and oils should help you to accomplish this task.
5. Clean home. One of the simplest ways to reduce allergy symptoms is to take the allergens out of your home. This doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of your pets, but rather the allergens they produce. So aside from keeping your pets squeaky clean, you need to keep your home ship-shape as well. You should consider trying green cleaning solvents (since chemical cleansers could exacerbate your allergies) and you might also use a filtered vacuum (like Miele models) meant to remove allergens from the air, and even steam cleaners (like the Ladybug) that will get allergens that might be missed by dry-cleaning options.