Around fifteen percent of the United States population suffers from dog or cat allergies, so there’s a decent chance that someone in your family is allergic. This could present a huge problem if you want to add to the family in the form of a feline or canine companion. Allergies range greatly in severity, and affect everyone slightly differently. If someone in your family has very severe allergies to cats or dogs, it would be unwise for you to get one. If the allergies are milder, it is possible to live with a furry friend, but you should know what you’re dealing with first.
Pet allergies are most often caused by the dander, or dead skin that the pet sheds. People can also be allergic to the saliva or urine of a cat or dog, though these allergies are easier to deal with. Contrary to what many people believe, cat or dog hair is not typically an allergen. However, hair often carries dander and other allergens such as dust or pollen, which often makes dogs that shed lots of hair harder to deal with. Dander allergens are extremely small and will float through the air and land on furniture without anyone in your family being able to see it.
If you are allergic to dogs or cats, any dog or cat will trigger your allergies. Some people, however, will be more or less allergic to specific types or species of dog or cat. Additionally, some species of dog are believed to be less allergenic in general than others. While this is not entirely true, and no dog is non-allergenic, some dogs have been known to be easier on allergies. These include dogs with non-shedding hair, like the poodle, smaller dogs, and short-haired dogs.
The symptoms of dog and cat allergies are similar to those of many other types of allergies. Contact with the pet will cause runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, general cold-like symptoms and potentially itchy skin or rashes. The symptoms are most severe when in contact with the animal, but may last for awhile after.
There are many things you can do if you or someone in your family suffers from cat or dog allergies, but you still want to own one.
- Containment: Your dog or cat’s dander will only infest rooms in which he spends time in. Try to keep your pet out of bedrooms and think about setting up an area of the house where he will spend most of his time. Those with allergies will know to spend less time there. Additionally, you can train your pet to stay off of furniture.
- Clean Air: Use a HEPA filter to clean the air of dander.
- Allergy Treatments: There are some treatments available on the market that can reduce allergies. Put them to the test.
- Bathing: Regular baths can help reduce dander. Make sure to use the right type of shampoo.
- Wash Hands: You should try to wash your hands regularly, and especially after handling your pet.
- Medicine: Talk to your doctor about possible treatments for you that could help reduce the symptoms of pet allergies.
Remember, if you are allergic to cats or dogs, you will not be able to get rid of that allergy. Except in some cases where children outgrow them, allergies are permanent. So before you decide to get a cat or dog, you should decide if it will be worth the itching and sneezing.