Nothing dampens the excitement of bringing home a new furry family member like finding out that it?s making another family member sneeze, itch or have red, watery eyes.
As long as the symptoms aren't severe, there are management strategies that you can and should try first before re-homing the pet.
As always, the first step is to talk to an allergist who can determine the severity of the allergy and offer suggestions for treatment. You might find that your family member is not allergic to the animal's dander but is having reactions to pollen or other substances carried in on the animal's fur or skin.
There are many prescription and over the counter allergy medications available that have minimal side effects and offer significant allergy relief. Your allergist can also talk to you about immunotherapy and other long-term solutions.
Make the allergic individual's room a sanctuary from allergens. Keep the pets out of the room at all times and make sure that the room is regularly vacuumed and dusted. An air purifier is a good idea to take care of any particles that float in on the air.
Smaller caged pets such as hamsters, gerbils and birds should be housed outside of shared living spaces. Keep larger pets off of upholstered furniture and make vacuuming all floors, window treatments and furniture a regular part of your routine.
Wash the pet regularly with special pet shampoos that are designed to remove as much of the dander as possible in the bath. Grooming should take place outdoors if possible; if not do it as far away from the person with pet allergies as possible and give the room a thorough wipe-down and vacuuming afterward. If the allergic person must be the one to groom the pet, it's a good idea for them to wear a protective face mask.
Family members with pet allergies should be careful about touching or playing with the pet and be instructed to wash their hands thoroughly after any contact. It can also be a good idea to change into clean clothes and shower if the pet was allowed to rub against the allergic person or sit on their lap.
Replace all filters in your furnace or HVAC system with HEPA filters that can remove pet dander particles from the air and change them regularly. If your vacuum cleaner doesn't already have a HEPA filter, consider replacing it with one that does, otherwise you may just be spreading the allergens around the home every time you vacuum.
If you use room-sized or whole house air cleaners, be sure that they are designed to capture particles in the air and not just "clean" the air with ozone.
If it is possible, remove carpeting from your home and replace with hard flooring such as wood or tile. If this is not feasible, invest in a HEPA vacuum and use special allergy sprays that can help neutralize allergens by denaturing the proteins.
Be sure to wash all bedding and other soft materials in the home regularly to remove as much pet dander as possible. Do not allow the pet to play with or sleep on stuffed toys, pillows or other articles that belong to the allergic family member.
Keep the animal's bedding and/or litter box clean and place it well away from any air vents, preferably in an area that is easy to wipe clean regularly Look for special air vent filters that can further reduce the spread of allergens from room to room.
It's worth making the effort to try and keep your family pet, however if these steps do not mitigate the allergies and symptoms are severe, re-homing may be your only choice. This can be easier on the family if you take steps to make sure that the pet is going to a loving home.
This is an article by the guest author:
Jacob Maslow is a writer who loves animals of all kinds. He works for AllergyBeGone, an online retailer that sells products such as Honeywell Air Purifiers and HEPA vacuums that help pet lovers manage their allergies without giving up their furry friends.
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