Are Your Allergic to Your Pets?
The temperatures are cooling, the leaves are falling, and you’re….congested. For many, a reaction to pet allergens is very real and can cause significant symptoms regardless of the time of year. In fact, it’s estimated that 20-30% of the U.S. population shows sensitivities to their pet in the way of sneezing, a runny nose, congested sinuses, watery & itchy eyes, and more.
Thankfully, there are ways to alleviate pet allergies so that you can continue living in healthy harmony with your best buddy. The professionals at Charlotte Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Associates (CEENTA) suggest several tips on making your relationship work:
- Keep your pets away from the bedroom. If your pet does insist on nighttime snuggles, wash your sheets often.
- Try to keep animals off the couch. Easier said than done, right? If you can’t keep your furball from perching on the pillows, try a pet furniture cover to catch all of their fur.
- Wash your hands and change your clothes after petting, grooming, or snuggling your pets.
- Bathe and groom your pets regularly. Clean, well-groomed fur helps cut down on shedding, which helps cut down on sneezing! Don’t overdo it though – shampoo can dry out your pet’s skin creating even more shedding. Once a month is a good place to start!
- Vacuum and dust weekly. The folks at Bissell love to support pets and animal shelters. Check out their pet-specific products!
- Get rid of that carpet. It’s a big project, but eliminating carpet in your home will give the air a major refresh. Hardwoods and tile don’t hold pet fur and allergens quite as easily.
Pet Allergy Myths & Misconceptions
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions when it comes to pets and allergies. Along with the expertise of the allergists at CEENTA and several national organizations, we’re here to help clear up more than just your nose.
MYTH #1: Some dogs are hypoallergenic and don’t shed. While it’s true that some dog breeds and hybrid breeds shed less than other dogs, all dogs release proteins that can act as allergens. These allergens can be found on their fur, in their dead skin cells (dander), and in their saliva. Because of this, there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog or cat. (AKC)
MYTH #2: If you’re allergic to cats you’re also allergic to dogs, and vice versa. Not necessarily true! Allergic reactions are triggered by the proteins found in a pet’s saliva or dander and dogs and cats produce different allergens because they produce different proteins. You could be sensitive to only one. It’s is true though that feline-related allergies are twice as common as canine-related allergies due to the size and shape of their protein molecules. (AAFA)
MYTH #3: If you have an allergy, there is no way to live with a pet, especially indoors. Not true, though you will have to exercise caution. The Humane Society of Charlotte’s goal is to keep pets in homes, but it’s important that the human-animal relationship is healthy for everyone involved! Make sure you understand the extent of your allergic reaction. Could it be life-threatening? Those with severe asthma could have a full-blown attack when exposed to certain kinds of pet dander. Make sure to address any type of reaction with your doctor to determine if a daily allergy pill will suffice or if you need to consider alternative options. (AAC)