Do You Have a Pet Allergy?

Do you find yourself sneezing and getting an itchy nose and throat when you come into close contact with a cat or dog? If you do, the chances are you have a pet allergy.

Some people never find out they have an allergy until they get a pet – by which time it is a matter of managing the symptoms. However, many people know in advance they have an allergy, simply because they splutter and sneeze whenever they are near a friend or relative’s cat or dog.

Are you really allergic to their fur?

Actually no. While this is a common and understandable belief, it’s actually the proteins in the oil on their skin that cause the problem. Some people are only allergic to cats and not to dogs, and some are the other way around. Some unfortunate souls find they’re allergic to both.

Can you still have a cat or a dog when you have allergies?

It’s not impossible. There are several breeds of dog that are hypoallergenic – that is, ideal for people who couldn’t have a regular dog that sheds hair everywhere. Although we’ve stated it’s not the hair that causes the allergy, the dead skin cells in which the proteins that cause allergies can be found will be attached to the hair or fur when it sheds. Therefore, if you find a dog that doesn’t shed, you should find you are free of symptoms.

One of the best-known breeds to have if you have allergies is a Bichon Frise. Other options include the Irish water spaniel and the poodle. Be very careful you get a pure-bred puppy (or dog) if the hypoallergenic option is important to you. If a Bichon is bred with something else that isn’t known to be hypoallergenic, you may not get the result you wanted.

What about cats though? Well, it probably won’t come as a surprise to learn that some of the breeds that are hypoallergenic are actually the almost-hairless ones. Think of the Devon Rex, the Cornish Rex and the Sphynx for example.

Things you can do to reduce your symptoms

If you already have a cat or dog and you’ve discovered you’re allergic to them, there are steps you can take to reduce your symptoms. Wooden or laminate floors are ideal, as you can sweep or vacuum them daily and mop them as well. This helps keep the floors very clean and gets rid of the dander that is the main cause of your symptoms. Wipe down and polish all surfaces as well – dander doesn’t just accumulate on the floor.

Your pet will need brushing regularly, so try and allocate this task to someone else who doesn’t have an allergy if you can. Regular brushing will help reduce the amount of fur that drops onto the floor.

Make your bedroom a pet-free zone as well. Keep the door shut at all times to prevent your pet getting in there and depositing their fur everywhere. This helps enormously when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

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