Millions of us share our homes with furry, feathered, and scaly friends. Pets are a great addition to the family and bring comfort and joy to people across the world. However, many pet owners are also somewhat allergic to their animal companions. So, how do you keep your allergies under control when you’re sharing your home with a pet? Let’s find out below.
Make Sure It’s Your Pet You’re Allergic to
All pets with fur and feathers have dander, yet dander might not be the main culprit for your allergies. Homes can harbor various types of allergens, such as dust mites, mold spores, or pollen, and your allergies might be triggered by a combination of them. Ideally, you should get tested to find out which allergens you have the worst reaction to, and limit your exposure to them.
Designate ‘Paws Off’ Areas
The best way to keep pet allergies under control is to designate areas in your home where your pets are not allowed. Sleeping close to your dog or cat may reduce blood pressure, on top of making you feel safe. However, allergy symptoms get worse during the night, which is why your bedroom should be at the top of your ‘pet free area’ list. To minimize the spread of hair, you can also encourage them to use pet beds during the day, as opposed to staying on the sofa.
Use HEPA Filters
HEPA filters can be a life changer if you have allergies. You can easily find HEPA air purifiers, which help with removing small allergens from the air, as well as removing unpleasant pet odors. HEPA filters also make a difference in vacuum cleaners, as they prevent small particles escaping from the dust bag and making their way back into your home.
Air conditioning systems don’t typically have HEPA filters built in, and in most cases, adding a HEPA filter to your HVAC can decrease air flow, reduce performance, and increase your electricity bill. However, if you have a serious respiratory condition and are also fond of your pet, they might be worth considering.
Get Rid of Carpets
Carpets are perfect for protecting your floors against claw scratches, but they are also a hotbed for allergens. Thick, fluffy carpets in particular can be very difficult to clean, and even if you vacuum them twice a week, there will still be hair and dander caught in the fabric. If possible, get rid of carpets altogether, or at least swap them for smaller rugs that are easy to clean in the washing machine.
Give Your Pets Regular Baths…
One of the key things to remember about pet allergies is that it’s not the hair you’re allergic to, but the dander. This is basically made of small skin particles which, because they’re so light, can easily become airborne and spread around the house, even if your pet is just scratching behind the ear. To minimize the amount of dander your pets spread, give them a bath twice a month, using a mild pet shampoo. Your dog should be fine with this, but your cat… well, just make sure you have plasters ready.
… and Regular Brushing
Regular brushing and grooming is a great way to bond with your pets, while also reducing the amount of hair they drop. Pets like cats and dogs shed twice a year, in spring and fall. Depending on how bad your allergy is, you can give them a good brushing yourself (make sure to wear a mask and goggles), or take them to a groomer for a trim.
Keep Pet Toys and Accessories Clean
Cleaning your pets’ bed is just as important as changing your own bedsheets, even more so if you have allergies. Using the brush extension, give the bed a weekly vacuum clean, and if the manufacturers’ specifications allow it, you can also run it through the washing machine. The same applies to your pets’ toys, especially if they have stuffed animals that they’re particularly fond of.
If you have severe allergies, there may come a time when all the HEPA filters, grooming and vacuum cleaning are no longer enough. In such cases, take a moment to consult with your doctor about allergy medication, such as antihistamines. Some allergy medications are available without a prescription, as is the case with nasal sprays, eye drops, or allergy-relief skin creams. However, to avoid any side effects, or worse, allergic reactions to the medication itself, make sure to check with your doctor before buying anything over the counter.