Allergies are on the rise in America and more than 30% of adults and close to 40% of children suffer from various kinds of allergies. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, allergic diseases are the fifth leading chronic health condition affecting Americans.
Close to 40% of all households in the US have pets and millions of pet owners experience mild to severe pet allergies. If you are also a pet lover who has to deal with unpleasant symptoms arising from allergic reactions, do not worry.
Many pet owners with allergies choose to share their lives and homes with their pets despite allergies and you can, too.
Here are a few tips for you to keep your home safe, clean and allergen-free, and enjoy the immense love, joy and companionship a dog or a cat brings into your life.
Visit an allergist and get tested for pet dander
It is not uncommon for pet parents to think that Fluffy or Fido is the reason for all allergies in the family, but this is often not the case.
Doctors point out that it is common for people suffering from allergies to be sensitive to more than one allergen. Allergy symptoms like watery eyes, itchy skin and nasal congestion are often due to pollen and dust mites in your home rather than pet dander.
Concentrate on reducing the overall allergen level in your home by preventing the buildup of dust, pollen, pet dander, dirt and other droppings in your carpets and upholstery.
We live in tightly sealed homes optimized to retain heat and keep out cold. Insulation helps maintain desired temperature inside homes and saves energy, but the drawback is that insulated homes also have high levels of allergens locked inside.
Trapped indoor air circulates these pollutants and soon you have an unhealthy airborne concoction made of:
- Mold spores
- Gases emanating from smoking, cooking etc.
- Carbon dioxide from appliances and respiration
- And VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) from various sources
Breathing this airborne cocktail of harmful substances can cause or aggravate allergies, and can be extremely harmful to your family. Research has proven that breathing stale, contaminated and rancid indoor air can make us ill.
It is essential that you increase indoor ventilation and allow fresh air to flush out harmful toxins. Run exhaust widow fans and keep windows open whenever possible. An air cleaner with a HEPA filter will also help in sanitizing indoor air. Though it is not possible to remove allergens completely, a great deal of improvement is possible.
Also, invest in a dehumidifier to keep humidity in check. With persistent efforts you will notice that allergies ease and you feel better.
Bathe your pet often
Pet dander is usually cited as the main cause of pet allergies, but that’s a bit of a misnomer. It is a particular protein found in pet dander that is the main culprit behind the whole suite of allergy symptoms that many pet parents experience.
The common allergy-causing protein found in cats is Fel d 1 and in dogs it is Can F 1. These proteins are present in abundance in salivary and skin glands. The allergen protein clings to dry and flaky skin cells and dander. Dander and dead skin cells get rubbed onto, or fall and accumulate on carpets, upholstery, furnishings and your clothes.
Since the allergen is present in saliva and sebum, even hairless animal breeds can cause severe allergic reactions.
Bathing and cleaning your pet often can prevent allergen buildup. When your dog or cat licks himself he is depositing the allergy causing proteins on his hair. Wash your pet thoroughly or clean it with special medicated wipes to keep your pet clean. Just make sure that the person bathing the dog is not susceptible to pet allergies.
Cleansing wipes are especially suited for kitties who usually hate being scrubbed in a tub.
Anti-allergen sprays are also helpful to reduce allergens and keep animal coats safe. These steps not only protect you against allergies but are also good for the overall well-being of your pet.
A clean home is the best protection against allergies.
Carpets trap pet hair and dander, and very soon they get ground deep inside the carpet pile. You must ensure that your carpet does not become home to allergens. Vacuum all carpeted areas at least once every week. High traffic areas should be vacuumed daily. Also, ensure that carpets are professionally cleaned a couple times every year.
Upholstered furniture and curtains trap pet dander and dead skin cells. Ensure that you steam clean or wash them regularly.
If you want to reduce potential allergen-hosting areas in your home, consider replacing carpets with hardwood flooring and minimizing the amount of upholstered furniture.
Having a pet in your family brings immeasurable benefits. A pet is a source of calm and happiness, and a valuable companion. If you take proper measures and use preventive medications, you can enjoy the pleasures of a pet without letting your allergies get in the way.
About the Author: Lena Butler is a professional blogger at TestCountry and a pet lover who enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge on top quality wellness health testing kits for dogs. She is dedicated to rescuing pets & animals, and is always ready to do what she can to support local animal rescue organizations.