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How to coexist with pets and allergies

Ask your average pet owner how they feel about their pets, and they’d most likely respond, “I can’t live without them.”

The longstanding friendship between humans and animals is a global phenomenon— consider that approximately 65 to 70%of U.S. households and 76 to 82% of Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil householdsown at least one pet.1,2Around 74% of Russian households own pets and 57% of those households includes a cat.

Pet ownershipis a global phenomenon— consider that approximately 65 to 70%of U.S. households and 76 to 82% of Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil householdsown at least one pet.

However, animal companionship may include an unexpected challenge - finding ways to manage cat and dog allergies.

Airborne allergies infographic

Life with pets can mean life with pet allergies

Pets don’t just give us companionship —for people with pet allergies, they may come with frequent fits of sneezing and wheezing. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), as many as 3 in 10 Americans with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs, with cat allergies occurring twice as much as dog allergies.2

3 in 10 Americans with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs, with cat allergies occurring twice as much as dog allergies.

This presents a problem for animal lovers who also happen to be pet allergy sufferers. Most pet owners find coping mechanisms like antihistamines or rehoming their pets to be ineffective in addressing the issue.

If you’re one of the millions of pet owners with pet allergies,— here’s how you can manage your allergy symptoms and enjoy spending time with your pet.

Pet allergies are closely linked to pet dander

Many people incorrectly think that it’s pet hair that’s responsible for triggering allergic reactions. It’s pet dander that’s the real culprit. Pet dander is composed of tiny, even microscopicflecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, and other animals with fur or feathers.

Other allergy triggers or allergens come from sources other than the animal’s skin, such as proteins found in saliva,urine, and feces from cats, dogs, and other pets.3 Dried saliva containing allergens may flake off from your pet’s fur and become airborne, where it’s then easily inhaled. Dust from dried feces can be suspended in the same way,similar levels of inflammation in your respiratory tract.

Pet allergens are extremely tiny and lightweight, so they remain suspended in the air for a long time.

Pet allergens are extremely tiny and lightweight, so they remain suspended in the air for a long time. Because of their microscopic size and jagged shape, pet allergens easily stick to many surfaces, including:

  • bedding
  • fabrics
  • furniture
  • items carried into and out of your home.

Pet dander is easily spread through your home and in public places like hospitals and schools.

Are you triggered by pet allergens?

Pet allergy signs and symptoms spurred by inflammation of nasal passages include:4

  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • itchy, red, or watery eyes
  • nasal congestion
  • itchy nose, roof of mouth, or throat
  • postnasal drip
  • cough
  • facial pressure and pain
  • frequent awakening
  • swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
  • frequent upward rubbing of the nose (in children)

Skin symptoms

Some people with pet allergies may also experience skin symptoms, a pattern known as allergic dermatitis.

This type of dermatitis is an immune system reaction that causes skin inflammation. If you have direct contact with an allergy-causing pet, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • raised, red patches of skin (hives)
  • eczema
  • itchy skin

Get to know your pet allergies — get tested

According to a 2004 sutdy published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology,it’s estimated that nearly allU.S. households have detectable levels of dog and cat allergens.5

Nearly all U.S. households have detectable levels of dog and cat allergens.

Before you blame your symptoms on your pet, see your doctor and get tested to determine what’s really causing your allergies. For instance, you may assume that you’re allergic to your cat, but an allergy test may reveal that you’re allergic to tree pollen that clung onto theirfur, not their dander.

If the allergy test does indeed reveal that you’re allergic to your pet, here are some easy ways to reduceallergens and unpleasant symptoms:

Create a safe, allergy-free sanctuary

The most effective way to curb your pet allergies is to create an allergen-free area in your home, ideally in your bedroom.

There are steps you can take to create a clean space, including:6

  • seal off your pet's access to your allergy-free room
  • using a high-performance room air purifier to filter out all pet dander and allergens from the air
  • not purchasing ionic air cleaners; these products can create ozone, a potentially dangerous indoor pollutant
  • consider using impermeable covers for your mattress and pillows
  • removing or replacing carpets and rugs

Use a whole-house air purifier

Consider safeguarding the air in your entire home with a whole-house air purifier that provides clean, medical-grade air throughout your entire home. A whole-house air cleaning system in your home will provide comprehensive protection against pet allergens in ever single room.

Regularly bathe your pet

  • Try to reduce the level of dander in your home by bathing your pets ever week.
  • Dogs typically are less trouble when it comes to bath time, but cats can get accustomed to being bathed over time as well.
  • You should only use cleaning products designed specifically for cats and dogs.
  • Let your veterinarian or pet groomer professionally clean and groom your pets, if desired.

Routinely clean your home

Put on a face mask to clean your entire home thoroughly. Clean surfaces to remove pet dander and dust, including:

  • vacuuming your carpet, rugs, tile, furniture, and any other vacuum-safe surface.
  • wash sofa covers and pillows, curtains, and pet beds
  • using hypoallergenic pillows and comforters to further reduce your exposure to allergens
  • dusting using a damp cloth

Seek additional allergy treatments

Tell your allergist that you're committed to living with your pet and your allergies. They may prescribe additional treatments like antihistamine pills, immunotherapy (allergy shots), and/or antihistamine and steroidal nose sprays.

The takeaway

You don't necessarily need to give up being a pet owner to control pet allergens like dander. The above tips may help reduce your allergy symptoms, and in turn, help you better appreciate your time spent with your pets.

The number one air cleaning solution for your home.

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