Surviving Pets with Asthma & Allergies
Pets are humanizing. They remind us that we have an obligation and responsibility to preserve and nurture and care for all life. ~Christopher McCandless
[ Does it get any cuter than this? :D ]
Let me begin this with a statement by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: People with dog allergies may be more sensitive to some breeds of dogs than others. Some people may be allergic to all dogs. People may think certain breeds of dogs are "hypoallergenic," but a truly non-allergic dog or cat does not exist.
There may be many companies or people breeding and selling pets with this moniker non allergenic dogs or cats, but it's a sales pitch and there is no fact based on it.
[ Has anyone seen my coat? :D ]
People who liv with pet allergies have over active immune systems that react to the Proteins found in animal (dander dead skin cells,) which is why one can still react to hairless animals like this little guy above! Pet saliva, and urine are also allergen culprits.
Allergens ( the skin cells, saliva and dander) wind up resting on most all household surfaces, furniture, floors, walls, your clothing, window treatments etc... Most people equate pet allergens with their fur, but as stated above this is Not so. However, pet hair can collect and transfer OTHER allergens into your home to create further chaos within your system such as pollen ( Asthmatics kryptonite!), dust, and grass. Pet allergens also travel, everywhere, on other people's clothes, by air, in hotels, and wherever people go or pets are allowed; so there may be no escaping them entirely.
[ Uh Oh! Looks like this little guy wasn't careful about the pet allergens in his environment! Or perhaps like, me he came in contact with a cat! :D ]
What are the symptoms of a pet allergic reaction? A stuffy nose, you may just think you're getting a cold, red itchy and swollen eyes, red, irritated and itchy and rashy skin especially if you've interacted with by touching, petting the animal. For Asthmatics, the airborne particles are small enough to travel to the lungs and this is where trouble starts as this can cause asthma attack. If I'm within 5 feet of a cat (though I love them :/ my asthma is triggered. The aafa states that cat allergies can lead to Chronic asthma, I've unfortunately experienced this so I must keep away from them as much as possible.
Before you make any drastic moves, make sure what you're experiencing is an allergic reaction to pets and not something else, see your health care provider for clarity.
The first question people will ask and understandably so is what if I want to or already have a pet? If you have an actual Pet ALLERGY sadly the best alternative is to keep your home free of pets period. Keeping a pet outdoors isn't good for them or you, as we've discussed how dander travels, and keeping them outside permanently isn't exactly humane or emotionally good for the animal.
However, if the above solution isn't an option for you because of your devoted love for pets and who can blame you, here are a few tips to keep your suffering at bay:
[ No such thing as a 'clean freak' when it comes to protecting yourself and family from pet allergens!! ]
Veterinarians can play a critical part and are trained to assist in helping people and their pets remain together. Can you imagine being told you must get rid of your beloved pet (family members)?
It's best to remove carpet ( especially wall to wall carpet) as it cages dander, dust ( dust mites like to snack on pet dander!) and other nasties, or be ready to clean (steam clean) them often. I had a beautiful grey-silver shag rug that I had to get rid of (and we don't at the moment have a pet, but we greatly miss our English Bully Picasso!) because carpet's a magnet for everything allergen related!! Wash down walls and mop floors weekly or as often as needed.
When cleaning the home, wear a dust mask (for people with asthma and other lung issues and allergies a mask should always be worn while cleaning, esp vacuuming. A vacuum with a HEPA filter is optimal.
Remove and do not allow your pet into your bedroom. This is all important, because allergens creep into your mattress ,bedding, and pretty much everywhere!
[ Maybe we're allergic to our Humans too! :D ]
Wash pet furniture and yours, toys and accessories frequently, as well as the pet itself. Animals track in outdoor allergens right on top of their allergens and that creates a sticky mess for your immune system! Brushing and cleaning pet paws after time outdoors can aid in reducing these contaminants.
Remember to change and wash your clothes after time spent with your pet, as the 'sticky' dander accumulates easily .
Get an air cleaner, with HEPA filter to greatly reduce airborne particles and allergens as well as remove pet allergens from the air.
Immunotherapy (allergy shots) are helpful for asthma and allergies, so you can check with your health care provider for more information on assistance with your pet allergy.
Remember, these are good measures to take whether you have a pet to not of you have asthma or allergies of any kind, and optimal with pets, however, if you're truly allergic, these suggestions will NOT stop your symptoms or reactions because it's an attack on your immune system.
Animals add so much to our lives and become a part of the family. For many, they are worth the risk, and for others, perhaps with kids or those who suffer uncontrollably from pet allergens, they are not. It's up to you and your family to decide the best decision for your lives.
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