Allergies to pets with fur are common, especially among people who have other allergies or asthma. In the United States three in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs with cat allergies twice as common as being allergic to dogs.
People with pet allergies have sensitive immune systems and react to harmless proteins in the pet's urine, saliva or dander (dead skin cells) - not pet hair. Some people opt to get rid of their pets, but there are strategies to reduce exposure to allergens if you want to keep your pet.
- Keep your pet out of your bedroom. Make sure the bedroom door is kept closed and clean aggressively.
- Animal allergens cling to things like furniture and carpeting. Consider bare floors (remove wall-to-wall carpets if you have them) and keep surfaces clean and uncluttered.
- If you have throw rugs or area rugs, wash or steam clean them frequently.
- Vacuum cleaners stir up allergens that have settled on carpet and make allergies worse. Use a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter if possible.
- Change your clothes after prolonged exposure with your pet.
- Forced-air heating and air-conditioning can spread allergens through the house. Cover bedroom vents with dense filtering material like cheesecloth.
- If you have central heating and cooling, add an air cleaner combined with a HEPA filter to help remove pet allergens from the air.
- You can also use a standalone air cleaner at least four hours per day to remove particles from the air.
- Wash your pet every week to reduce airborne allergens.
- Brush your pet outside of the house to remove dander.
- Let a professional do the monthly grooming to reduce your exposure to dander.
- Consult with your doctor or an allergist about options for taking allergy medications.