Living With Allergies And Pets

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Cat and Owner

I love my pet and cannot get rid of her. What can I do?

A pet in the home may be a potential cause of allergies. Allergy to “furry” animals is not only caused by the hair but also the dander, saliva, and urine of the animal. Removing the animal from the house is the most effective method of controlling an animal allergy. After the animal is no longer present, it may require an additional 3-6 months to decrease the animal particles to an acceptable level.

Cats are the most allergenic of the pets. The most antigenic part of the cat is the saliva and the glands at the base of the hair. Cats clean themselves by licking. The hair that sheds from the cats then becomes a source of allergies. Dogs, birds, and gerbils are also other sources of animal allergies but much less common.

NOTE: People who are allergic to their pets should not expect complete relief from their allergies with medication and immunotherapy (allergy shots) alone. Remember the best method to reduce allergy is avoidance.

If you cannot part with your pet, here are some steps you may take:

  • Limit your exposure to the pet
  • Do not allow the pet to sleep on your bed or even enter your bedroom
  • Wash your pet and vacuum often
  • Keep the animal outdoors as much as possible