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March 20, 2010 at 5:13 PMComments: 1 Faves: 0

Allergies and Man's Best Friend: Not the Best of Friends

By Smarty More Blogs by This Author

As American pet ownership reaches its highest level - 63 percent* of all U.S. households currently own a pet, which equates to more than 69 million households - it's become clear that it's "reigning" cats and dogs in America. Additionally, studies show that 10 to 15% of the U.S. population is allergic to their pets, proving that people's love of their dogs is a bond not easily broken.

Despite the difficulties and challenges of living with a cat or dog that makes you sick, 25 percent of people with allergy-related health problems decide to live with pets in their home, according to the National Institute of Health. Evidently, many people believe the benefits of pet companionship offset the hardships of pet allergies. For people who suffer from allergies, minimizing the effects of their pets" allergies involves knowledge about what allergies are, how to best manage them, and a readiness to follow some levelheaded, practical rules.

First, an explanation of what allergies are: People that are allergic to pets are most often allergic to the continuously dead skin, or dander, that all pets shed. People are also allergic to pets saliva and/or urine. The most common symptoms of pet allergies are irritated eyes, runny nose, asthma-like symptoms, red itchy skin or a rash. Controlling the amount of animal dander in the home is one of the most important elements of treating pet allergies.

Here are some tips for pet owners to minimize the allergic reaction they have to their pets:

  • Dogs should not be allowed on your bed or even in the bedroom.
  • Install HEPA room air cleaners in all the bedrooms and in the family room. HEPA air cleaners can make a significant difference for those people who suffer from pet allergies.
  • Install an electrostatic air filter on your central heating system to help clean the air dispersed through the house. Additionally, cheap disposable allergen air filters can capture microscopic allergens like dust, smoke and smog particles and large allergens like mold spores and pet dander.
  • Install hard, easy-to-clean floors where the animals spent most of their time. Carpeting collects and holds the dander.
  • Launder all animal beds, fabric accessories, and soft dog toys frequently. Many health experts recommend using an anti-allergen detergent to wash your pet's stuff.
  • Buy a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

It's not realistic to tell a loving, yet allergic, pet owner to simply get rid of their cat or dog, but by implementing some practical strategies, allergic pet owners can keep their pets.

Sources:*2005-2006 National Pet Owners Survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA).

Photo Credit: louise@toronto

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1 Comment

  • All of those suggestions are very good points to helping cope with allergies when you have pets. They are also very helpful to your pets if they have allergies too! My dog has worse allergies than I do, so most of my corrections to our living environment are more for his benefit than mine, but they usually help the both of us.

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