Living with Pet allergy
Many kids and adults are allergic to their pet dogs or cats. These children and adults suffer from allergies such as asthma, allergic nose or rhinitis and eye allergies or allergic conjunctivitis. The obvious way is to remove the pet and find your pet a new home. But that sometimes is not easy and might get impossible as pets are a part of your family.
Do you have a proven allergy to your pet?
First and foremost, we need to prove the real triggers behind the cause of allergy symptoms. Having allergies and a pet at home does not mean that the child is allergic to the pet. We need to systematically test for a pet allergy and other allergens which might be causing problems. Many times the child may be allergic to dust mites or pollens, which might be the cause of symptoms. Some children might be sensitized to multiple allergens and the pet might be just one of them. Even though a child can be allergic to multiple allergens, the severity of the allergies to different substances can differ widely.
A skin prick test is the best method for allergy testing. Blood allergy testing using an immunocap can also be done.
What are the suggested steps to keep the pet and still get relief of allergy symptoms?
A pediatric allergy specialist can work with the family and help develop a strategy that reduces the allergy symptoms and allows you to keep your pet. Some suggested measures are listed below:
- Wash Your Pet, Wash Yourself: bathing your pet at least once a week helps shed dander, as well as, dust mites and pollen stuck in their fur. It is also important to take a bath yourself and wash your clothes after bathing your pet.
- Clean and Vacuum your house frequently: wet mopping is recommended for hard floors and tiles. Vacuuming is recommended for any upholstered furniture, carpets and curtains. This can reduce the dander, dust, pollen and mites.
- Use an Air Filter in the Bedroom: an air filter with a HEPA filter can remove allergens from your room. Running this for a few hours a day can significantly reduce concentration of dander in the room. Also make sure to clean and change the filter of your AC on a regular basis.
- Use a dehumidifier in Bathroom: a humid environment can be a place which harbors mold. A dehumidifier can bring down the moisture levels to recommended levels of 40-50%.
- Keep your pet away from the bedroom. Don't allow the pet on your beds.Is there any long term solution for pet allergy?
Sometimes allergen immunotherapy or desensitisation can be considered if symptoms persist despite the above measures and you wish to keep your pet. Allergen immunotherapy works better for cat allergy compared to dog allergy.
If you or your child has any allergies like asthma, allergic nose or eyes and a pet at home consult a pediatric allergist for testing and further management.