Pets: The Most Loving Allergen Source
If you are allergic to your pet, don’t blame the animal’s hair or fur. What you’re really allergic to are the proteins secreted by oil glands in the animal’s skin, as well as the proteins in saliva, which sticks to the fur when the animal licks itself.
Another source of allergy-causing proteins is animal urine. When the substance carrying the proteins dries, they are free to float into the air. Obviously, if you are allergic to animal dander, the most effective solution is to find a new home for the pet, be it a gerbil or a German shepherd. But that may be easier said than done. Many households have pets. While around 15 per cent of adults and more than 50 per cent of children are allergic to pets, many still have them in their homes. In such situations, you may want to consider allergy injections (a doctor would prefer you to avoid the pet), but there are also steps you can take to minimize the dander.
- Keep pets out of your bedroom Keep them out at night and close your bedroom door during the day to stop them coming in. If possible, you should keep them out of the house altogether, in a warm bed in an outside shed or kennel.
- Let someone else do the grooming Pets should be brushed regularly, but not in the house and not by you. Even cleaning a litter box is a chore best left to your non-allergic spouse, partner or child.
- Treat dander like dust Many of the recommendations for managing dust mites and such hold true for pet-generated allergens. Use HEPA filters in your vacuum. Dust regularly with an electrostatic cloth. Whenever possible, choose smoother, harder surfaces for your floors and furniture: they are much less likely to harbour animal hair or pet dander.
- Wash your hands every time you touch your pet And invest in a non-perfumed moisturising lotion to replenish your skin.
- Bath your pet regularly Some studies find a significant reduction in the amount of pet allergens when pets are bathed weekly, especially for particular dog breeds. There is less evidence that bathing works for cats, however.
- Change your pet’s diet The right diet can minimise your pet’s hair loss, reducing dander indoors. Talk to your vet about what kind of food will be most appropriate for your pet.
- Consider using a natural pet cleanser These are made from natural products including mild detergents. They remove allergens and dander from dogs, cats and small animals. You simply wipe it on your pet with a cloth. Studies show that after two to three weeks they reduce symptoms in more than 90 per cent of pet-allergic people.
- Make extra sure your pets are house-trained If the cat is peeing in the corner of the living room or your dog has accidents when you’re out at work, you probably have mould and fungus growing on your carpet, not to mention the allergens in the urine.