In this article we’re going to discuss one of the most annoying kinds of allergies that there is, especially for us animal lovers – allergies to pets and what can be done to reduce the allergens produced by pets.
The sad fact is that 10 to 15% of all the people in the world suffer from some kind of allergy to animals, which can make owning a pet not only annoying but potentially dangerous if the allergy is severe enough. Cat allergies are actually twice as common as dog allergies. The body’s reaction to the animals is caused by a certain protein found in the animal’s saliva, urine or dander. People aren’t really allergic to the pet’s fur but to the allergen that sticks to the fur, the carpeting or the furniture; basically anywhere your pet has been. Also, these microscopic flakes of dander travel through the air. As a matter of fact, studies show that these allergens can stay in the air even 3 years after an animal has actually been in the home.
Many people ask if there are any breeds of animals that people are not allergic to. The answer is, since all animals have dead skin there are no non allergic breeds. People may be more tolerant of certain breeds of dogs than others but there is no such thing as 100% non allergic. All animals produce some amount of allergen, even if it is a small amount. The allergic symptoms themselves build over time after handling or being near an animal, with the peak time being around 12 hours after. Also, as the pet spends more time living in the person’s home the allergens begin to accumulate and a person who showed no symptoms when handling the pet at the store when buying it will start to show symptoms after it has been home for a while, usually within a day.
So what’s the answer for people who want to have a pet but are allergic? What can they do in order to have a pet?
Unfortunately, the only thing you can do is try to reduce your exposure to the allergens. You’re not going to be able to get rid of them completely. One thing you can do to try to prevent the accumulation of allergens is to cover your furniture with plastic mattresses and pillow covers. Replace your carpeting with hard wooden floors and washable throw rugs. Clean the house as often as you can. Make sure you vacuum with a cleaner that has a HEPA filter otherwise allergens are just going to end up getting spread into the air. Your pet should be kept out of your bedroom completely. This may be hard for a real pet lover but it is essential. When you brush your pet, wear a face mask. Then change your clothes immediately afterward.
Unfortunately, the success rate of allergy shots and other treatments for pet allergies is only about 50%. Currently however, a vaccine for people allergic to cats is being tested. This may be a major breakthrough in the future.
Until then, there really isn’t much more you can do. If your allergies are severe it is probably best to stick with a fish for a pet.