Breathe easy! You can still keep your furry companion!
Improving the Immediate Environment
- Create an allergen-free room. A bedroom is often the best and most practical choice. By preventing your pet from entering this room, you can ensure at least eight hours of freedom from allergens every night. It’s a good idea to use hypoallergenic bedding and pillow materials.
- Limit fabrics. Allergens collect in rugs, drapes and upholstery, so do your best to limit or eliminate them from your home. If you choose to keep some fabrics, steam-clean them regularly. Cotton-covered furniture is the smartest choice, and washable blinds or shades make good window treatments.
- Vacuum frequently using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) filter or a disposable electrostatic bag. Other kinds of bags will permit allergens to blow back out of the vacuum.
- Install an air purifier fitted with a HEPA filter. Our modern, energy-efficient homes lock in air that is loaded with allergens, so it’s smart to let in some fresh air daily.
- Use anti-allergen room sprays. These sprays deactivate allergens, rendering them harmless. Ask your allergist for a product recommendation.
- Clean the litter box frequently. Use lowdust, perfume-free filler. Clumping litter is a good choice.
- Dust regularly. Wiping down the walls will also cut down on allergens.
- Invest in washable pet bedding and cages that can be cleaned often and easily.
Decontaminating Your Pet
- Bathe your pet at least once a week. Your veterinarian can recommend a shampoo that won’t dry out his skin. Bathing works to wash off the allergens that accumulate in an animal’s fur.
- Wipe your pet with a product formulated to prevent dander from building up and flaking off into the environment. Ask your veterinarian to suggest one that is safe to use on animals who groom themselves.
- Note any symptoms of dermatitis exhibited by your companion animal. Dermatitis often leads to accelerated skin and fur shedding, which will up your allergen exposure.
- Brush or comb your pet frequently. It’s best to do this outdoors, if possible. (The ASPCA does not recommend keeping cats outdoors, so make sure your feline is leashed if you take him outside.)
Taking Care of Yourself
- If possible, have someone other than yourself do the housecleaning, litter box work and pet washing, wiping and brushing. If you must clean the house or change the litter, be sure to wear a dust mask.
- Wash your hands after handling your companion animal and before touching your face. The areas around your nose and eyes are particularly sensitive to allergens.
- Designate a “pet outfit” from among your most easily washed clothes. Wear it when playing or cuddling with your companion, and you’ll leave other clothing uncontaminated.
- Find a physician, preferably an allergy specialist, who will make sure that your pet is the cause of your allergies and will help alleviate your symptoms. Medications and immunotherapy (desensitizing shots) can often allow you and your companion animal to remain together happily ever after.