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Coping With Pet Allergies

Your pet is part of the family — but you've found that you're allergic. Learn how to cope if you just can't part with your pet.

young girl hugging her dog

Pet allergies are common and can be serious, especially if you have asthma. The only way to avoid pet allergies is to avoid animals. But, if you can’t bear to find a new home for your pet, here are some tips you can try to manage your allergies. Allergens circulate in the air and stay on carpets and furniture for weeks or months. When a person with allergies comes in contact with a specific allergen — by breathing it in or through skin contact — it can trigger an allergic attack. Your pet may not even be there!

Reduce pet allergens

  • Wash your pet weekly. Even cats can get used to baths. Ask your veterinarian about how to bathe a cat properly.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom. Use a high-efficiency air filter in bedrooms. Even after your pet is banned, its dander can get into your bedroom on clothes and stay on furniture, carpets and bedding. Use special bedding covers that reduce allergen particles on mattresses and pillows.
  • Limit dander-catchers in all rooms. Replace drapes and slatted blinds with flat, easy-to-wipe-down shades. Choose wood, tile or linoleum floors instead of carpets. Keep pets off upholstered furniture.
  • Avoid cleaning pet cages. See if you can get someone else in your family to do this for you.
  • Dust often with damp cloths. Use micro-filter vacuum bags to trap allergens. Depending on your specific allergies, wear a dust mask and gloves.
  • Wash your hands and clothes to remove allergens after playing with your pet.

Talk to your doctor about allergies

Pet allergies often come from cats and dogs, but guinea pigs and rodents can also trigger an allergic reaction. Talk with your doctor about any allergy symptoms you may be having. He or she can make recommendations that are right for your situation.

A mixture of approaches — good house cleaning along with your doctor’s advice — may help you control your allergies while still living with your pet.

By Susan G. Warner, Contributing Writer

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Health and Education. Pets & animals. Accessed: March 7, 2016.
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Pet allergy. Accessed: March 7, 2016.
American Lung Association. Healthy air. Pet dander. Accessed: March 7, 2016.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. Health and Education. Allergens & irritants. Dust mites. Accessed: March 7, 2016.

Last Updated: March 8, 2016