Living with pets can bring many benefits for people. Dogs provide security as well as companionship. Cats are independent, but comforting when they choose to cuddle. Even mice and birds can bring feelings of happiness and peace to their owners. A study in the Animal Cognition reference journal found that pets, especially dogs, are sensitive to human emotions and many will respond with comforting actions towards a human in distress, even if they’ve never met that human before. But living with pet allergies can be a challenge.
Pet Allergy Causes
Our immune systems are supposed to find foreign substances, i.e. allergens, and fight them off. For many people pet dander is a foreign substance because instead of fighting it off, their immune system reacts to it. These people may enjoy the love and companionship they receive from their pets, but they certainly do not enjoy the effects of the allergens that come off the pets bodies.
Once the allergens have invaded the immune system, a reaction will begin. For many, that means rashes, water and itchy eyes, a congested, stuffy nose and fits of sneezing. If the allergens are inhaled into the lungs they combine with antibodies which can lead to wheezing, a tightness in the chest, coughing and even shortness of breath. For instance, pollen sufferers might have to seek medical help to treat ragweed allergy symptoms if they suffer from congestion.
Making Life Easier on Allergy Sufferers
Another option that is out there is to rehome your pet. Sometimes no matter how much cleaning you do the dander wins. This can be a very hard conclusion to come to and sometimes it’s just too emotionally difficult to give up your pet. Here are some things you can do to help avoid going that route.
- Keep pets off furniture and out of bedrooms. Dander in furniture is more difficult to get rid of then dander on the floor, so keeping pets off the furniture will keep the dander to an absolute minimum. If your pet does not go in your bedroom this will ensure that your sleeping area is all set for a good night’s sleep.
- Have an outside grooming service bathe pets regularly. Pets that are bathed and groomed regularly will not be leaving as much dander around.
- Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. A regular filter will not catch the dander and it will just blow back into the air while a HEPA filter will catch the dander and stop it from circulating.
- Consider replacing carpeting with hardwood or tile. Carpeting holds onto the dander, but hardwood or tile floors will be dander free after you sweep and mop.
- Use a HEPA air filter, especially for main living spaces like the living room, family room, and bedroom. Any flying dander, dust, and dirt is sucked into the machine and trapped in the filter, which allows the machine to release air that’s fresh and clean into your family’s home.
Saying Goodbye as a Last Result
The 80′s hair band White Lion sang, “Yes it’s time to say auf wiedersehen, sayonara and ciao my friend. You’ll always have a place in my heart.” Sadly, sometimes as a last resort it’s necessary to say goodbye to the pets who are the triggers causing your allergy symptoms. There are organizations that will help people deal with this issue and understand how heartbreaking it can be. Pet rescue groups, petfinder.com and local breeders are all options you can look into. Placing a notice on the bulletin board at your veterinarian’s office can also help you find your pet a home.
While it is an emotional and difficult time, make sure you stay away from shady pet groups. A few ways you can make sure someone is reputable is to ask them for references and for an address where you can visit your pet until it’s new fur-ever family is found. You can also request that you be able to meet the new family members so that you can feel assured that your pet is going to a good home.
An option some people don’t think about is finding a pet that’s less likely to trigger allergies. While there are low-dander felines and canines, sometimes pets without fur are a better option altogether. For instance, aquariums that hold freshwater goldfish or a variety of tropical, saltwater beauties are a great addition to a home. They are calming and relatively low-maintenance once they are in place. You can even hire someone to come in and maintain the tank, leaving you to sit back and enjoy the colorful creatures as they swim back and forth in the water.
Reptiles are another great allergy-free option. Snakes, iguanas, and even geckos take a lot of work – as much as a fur bearing pet. If you are squeamish at all around reptiles, then perhaps a better option would be a pet turtle. Red-eared sliders are popular with pet enthusiasts of all ages. And if all else fails, you can always head down to your local craft store and get some wiggly eyes and felt to create your very own pet rock!
About the Guest Author:
Freelance writer Benjamin Baker is married with three growing teenagers. They spend a lot of time outdoors doing things like camping and fishing, but when one of his kids started showing signs of a pollen allergy, while waiting for the date of the doctor’s appointment he turned to http://www.avoid-nasal-allergies.com for more information. When he’s not writing, researching, or spending time with his wonderful family, Benjamin enjoys playing his guitar.