One in five Australians has a pet allergy but having a pet-free home can be unthinkable for some. Is there a way you can both live under the same roof?
Pet allergies are more common than you think – especially in the mild to moderate range. Urine, saliva, and pet skin flakes (dander) can all cause a sometimes-surprising immune reaction.
Many people can be allergic to their pets without even realising. Even after being around your pet, you may not even associate your stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, itchy skin, rash, or irritated eyes with your pet. So, while those who experience severe reactions may not be able to have pets, there are management techniques for people with mild allergies.
Nasal sprays and antihistamines available at the pharmacy may help relieve some symptoms. Your GP can help you to determine that it is actually your pet that you are allergic to, and not something else. They may also help you get a handle on any coughing, sneezing, or general irritation you may be experiencing. Talk to your health professional to see what they recommend.
While you may have heard of cats and dogs that are hypoallergenic (cause less of an allergic reaction), or non-allergenic (don’t cause an allergic reaction), even hairless breeds may cause a severe allergic reaction.
There are a myriad of things you can do in the home to lessen the impact your pet has on your allergy. Modern cleaning products and appliances now offer plenty of ways to remove allergens from your home. You may like to invest in special allergen-removing filters for air conditioning units and vacuum cleaners.
Limiting your pet’s access to your home can help reduce allergens. Provide them access to the areas they need for food, warmth, and shelter, but consider closing off hallways to prevent entry to areas such as bedrooms. Keep them away from soft furnishings that can harbour allergens. If your pet sheds a lot, it’s worth looking for a groomer; less pet hair may result in fewer allergens.
Often, you won’t know you’re allergic until you get your pet. While this might cause some discomfort it doesn’t have to break up the relationship between you and your pet.