Allergy 101 for pet owners
By Trisha Gurley
In the past month I’ve had conversations with people considering giving up their pet due to allergies. Sadly, it seemed to me that those who were having this debate were looking for a convenient, guilt-free excuse to have a pet-free home. It every case the pet had been around for several years, but all the sudden their pets were just too annoying and allergenic. Hmm.
When I called a certain individual out on this (it was time to get rid of her cats, she said, because of allergies and their baby walking soon), she snapped back with, “Well, my husband has asthma, so I’d love to hear your suggestion on how to handle it.” Good thing I have plenty of suggestions, and it’s time to pass them along!
It bears mentioning that I know what I’m saying when it comes to allergies and asthma. I spent my entire childhood allergic to grass and most plants. I received allergy shots weekly for years. I was given medicine to treat the symptoms, only to become allergic to the medicine. As I grew into my 20s, the allergies lessened, but asthma came to replace them. I inhale a steroid medication twice a day to keep my lungs functioning and have a rescue inhaler on me at all times. There have been multiple instances when that inhaler has stopped a deadly attack. I know the dangers of allergies and asthma. Trust me.
I knew I had asthma when I adopted my cat Milton. Milton is family. The notion of placing him in another home because of a condition I knew I already had is inconceivable. To me he is worth any sneeze or wheeze, and fortunately he seldom causes them.
Before considering re-homing your pet, see an allergist and be tested for specific allergies. Too often pets are immediately blamed for allergies when they may not be the cause. To re-home a pet is a drastic measure. Why not take these steps listed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to help the allergic and allergenic stay happy and healthy?
• If your child has a minor pet allergy, make their room a pet-free zone.
• Use HEPA air filters in your home. This was recommended to me by my asthma specialist. They are available at any major retailer for a wide range of prices.
• Vacuum and dust frequently. This includes couch covers, curtains, and even pet beds.
• It’s fine to bathe your pet once a week, provided you use a pet-appropriate shampoo. Yes it’s true, most cats don’t like being bathed, but over time a cat can adjust to a quick bathing.
• Take advantage of treatments available to you. Taking an antihistamine or an over-the-counter medicine is worth keeping your family, four-legged and otherwise, happily intact.