In this piece, we’ll look at some of the major questions we receive about pet allergies, their causes, and some solutions to help you and your child cope. We’ll also go into some of the different products you can use to make your home a less triggering place for those with pet allergies.
So, let’s jump in by discussing pet allergies as a health symptom. Like many allergies, reactions to pets are generally based on genetics. Certain people are predisposed to deal poorly with exposure to pets.That’s cause number one.
Cause number two, as we are learning, can be environmental. By isolating your child too much, you can actually increase their chances of developing allergies. That’s why it’s so important to expose your child to as much of the “real world” as possible, rather than sheltering them from environmental factors like pets, nuts, or pollen.
Raising children around pets from an early age can actually be a smart choice, since they will develop with a basic exposure to a pet environment. Many pet allergy sufferers come from homes which did not have pets when they were first toddling around. Of course, some people will always be allergic, simply because of their genetic makeup. Be sure to test your child as early as possible, and to expose them to pets and allergens in small doses, being careful to check for signs of allergic reactions.
What are people with pet allergies actually reacting to? It’s not the smell of a pet, as many people think, or the presence of fur, at least not as we commonly think of it. No, allergy sufferers are usually reacting to microscopic particles we have a hard time seeing. That’s why you’ll see someone start coughing even though you’re in an apparently clean space.
Pet allergy sufferers are triggered by two main things: dust and dander. Both of these are microscopic particles much like ordinary household dust. The difference is that they’re both produced by pets. Pet dust is usually ordinary household dust that’s been trapped in fur, and gets released when an animal shakes. By then, it’s mixed with dander, which is a mixture of dead skin particles and microscopic hairs that pets constantly shed.
So, is this a sneezing matter, or something more serious? That depends on the child or adult in question. Some people simply start sniffling around pets, and others swell immediately and can be killed by respiratory reactions. It’s important to judge the severity of your child’s symptoms and act accordingly. In some cases children may not be able to have pets at all.
Now, with all that said, many people with pet allergies can coexist with animals, under the right circumstances. And now that we’ve been through the scary stuff, let’s talk about the things you can do to help your child deal with animals in your home.
You can start by finding a hypoallergenic breed of dog or cat. These breeds don’t produce as much dander, and they shed less often and less profusely than other breeds.
If you’re already living with an animal that’s not hypoallergenic, don’t worry. There are several steps you can take. You’ll need to address two things: the allergens, and the allergy sufferer.
To deal with allergens, you want to reduce their quantity in the air and on your pet. Here are a few easy things to do on that front.
First, brush your pet outside on a regular basis. Dogs love being brushed, and most cats can be persuaded if it means they get to explore some new territory. The more hair you remove outside, the less they’ll shed inside the house. This is super important in summer months!
Second, to deal with the fur, dust and dander that your pets produce inside the house. Every parent of an allergy sufferer should own and use a pet allergy vacuum and should learn the tricks of DIY carpet cleaning, floor cleaning, and the like. Pet allergy vacuums have fine filters which can trap all those microscopic allergens, and remove them from carpets, flooring, and other surfaces. Just vacuuming every few days will make a huge difference in your child’s well-being. Make sure you get something that’s bagged, so you aren’t letting any trapped allergens out when you empty the vacuum.
The other big tool is your arsenal is an air purifier. If you don’t already own one, look for something with HEPA-grade filters. They’ll do a great job at dealing with any dust and dander in the air (which, no matter how much you vacuum, will always exist). You’ll probably need to install it in your child’s sleeping space, unless pets don’t go in that room.
So, to reiterate, you should take a proactive approach to reducing the allergens your dog or cat produces inside, and then use a vacuum and an air purifier with filter sets to take care of anything else in the house.
Taking all these steps and investing in good cleaning equipment is actually a good thing for other household members, too. By removing those fine particles from your air, you’ll be helping yourself breathe better with less scratching in your throat, and less congestion (since mucus is your body’s way of getting rid of tiny particles and germs that are breathed in). Want to learn more on how to clean up after your pet? Visit this link.
Finally, lest we forget, you may need to do a few things to help out the allergy sufferer. Ask your doctor if medications might be necessary, and follow their advice.