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Are You Allergic To Your Pet?

catYour pets may be your best friends -- but if your nose runs and your eyes water every time you are close to them -- it may be time to find out more about pet allergies.

And, it isn't only cats. You can have an allergic reaction to dogs, horses and even guinea pigs and mice.

The culprit in cat and dog allergies is a protein found in their saliva. Since your pet cleans itself by licking, it spreads the offending protein on its coat and skin. It isn't the pet hair that makes you sniffle. It's the microscopic pieces of shedding skin that are coated with the protein that you are allergic to.

Your bedding, carpets, clothes and anything your pet comes into contact with will pick up this sticky dander. It can also be carried through the air to reach you.

Many families adopt short-haired (like the American Shorthair cat) or hairless breeds (like the hairless Sphinx cat) to avoid allergies, but it isn't the hair that causes the allergic reaction. There is no such thing as a non-allergenic cat or dog for people who suffer with allergies to these animals.

Guinea pigs and other rodent pets have a protein in their urine that causes the same problems.

How to control pet allergies

Major pet allergy symptoms include sneezing,
runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy eyes,

As hard as it may be to part with your pet, severe allergies may leave you no choice. Severe pet allergies can cause chronic asthma or trigger an attack if you suffer from asthma. Cleaning carpets and furniture may help for a while, but if your animal is in the house, the problem will come back.

You might try creating a pet-free zone, an area of your home where your animals are absolutely not allowed to enter. It won't avoid dander sticking to you in other areas of the house, but it will reduce the allergens in that area. For most people, the bedroom and living room are logical places to make pet-free. It may seem cruel to keep your pet away from family activities, but the alternative is giving up the pet.

Try washing your pet often. Cats and dogs can take baths at least once a week and that may help eliminate some of the offending dander. Using High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) filters for your air and heating ducts as well as special HEPA air filters in rooms where you and your pet share the space can help to trap the allergens in the air. HEPA vacuum bags keep the amount of dander that gets into the air when you clean to a minimum.

Use allergen resistant bedding and replace carpets with tiles or wood floors to avoid trapping dander underfoot. Switch to leather or vinyl furniture covers and get rid of window treatments that are made of material. Vinyl blinds don't collect dander.

Many people find that these precautions help enough to make living with pets pleasant, even for allergy sufferers!

About The Author... Editorial Staff

More about pet allergies around the Web:

Advice From Your Allergist - Pet Allergies

How to live with allergies and pets


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