For those who love pets, but have the misfortune of being allergic to fur babies, it can seem like you’re fighting a losing battle. However, don’t despair, there are some simple ways you can fend off the itchy eyes and constant sneezing.
Instead of having to banish your pet to the great outdoors, Dr Veronica Monaghan, Chief Veterinary Officer at Greencross Vets shares her handy hints for dealing with your allergies and still enjoying your pets company.
If you haven’t heard about them already, air filters are your new best friend if you are an allergy sufferer.
Veronica suggests that introducing a portable or whole-house air filter can make a dramatic difference to your allergies.
“While some air filters may be more expensive, they are the most effective at removing any allergens,” she tells.
Change clothes after contact
Any time you touch or hug your pet, Veronica suggests washing your hands thoroughly and (where possible) changing your clothes.
“You could also have a shirt dedicated to pet play time or take a shower to remove allergens and reduce the risk of having an allergic reaction,” she says.
Create “pet-free zones” around the house
Instead of having the entire house as an off-limit zone to your pet, Veronica reveals that making “pet-free zones” are the key.
For example, think about making your bedroom a “pet-free zone” so you can get some respite if you have an allergy flare up.
“Also, why not train your dog to stop jumping on furniture? Couches, beds, or any furniture can hold lots of allergens therefore may contribute to allergic symptoms,” she adds. “Further, don’t forget to wash your dog’s rugs, beds, cushions, blankets, and washable play items regularly to avoid the build-up of allergens.”
Bathe and brush pets regularly
Give your pet a weekly brush outdoors to minimise allergens building up and bathe them on a regular basis, but be mindful of doing this too often as their coat and skin can dry out, Veronica advises.
“Use a hypoallergenic or oatmeal-based dog shampoo for best results and remember to wash their bedding at the same time,” she says. “For cats, use a wet washcloth and wipe them down, since they tend to object to dunking.” If you’re the one doing the grooming, Veronica suggests wearing a mask so you don’t come off second best with all the fur flying around.
L-R: Furminator Cat Long Hair Deshedding Tool Small, RRP$67.99 and Animates Oval Bristle Dog Brush, RRP$19.99
Dust and clean often
It may be obvious but one of the best ways to keep allergens at bay is to regularly clean, vacuum and dust the areas your pet frequents.
“Ensure your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter to remove the small particles that set off your allergies,” Veronica suggests. “For best results, you should aim to wash your own bedding, comforters, and sheets in hot water weekly. This will help keep your bedroom allergen-free.”
If you’re still suffering, Veronica suggests seeing your doctor for an allergy shot could help.
“Please ensure that you are properly diagnosed and don’t just assume it’s the pet – you may have another allergy,” she adds. “Once you get more details about your allergy, you may be able to find a way to better handle it, all while keeping your pet at home.”
Veronica also says to remember that if you’re allergic to pets, you most likely also struggle with an assortment of pollens.
“By reducing your exposure to the other allergens that set you off, you are less likely to react to your pets,” she says. “Shutting your windows and doors and using air conditioners during pollen season will reduce your exposure to pollens, which means you won’t be quite as reactive to your pets.”