Pets and Allergies

That sneeze or clogged head may not be due to the cat or dog…

Too often, people will blame a sudden attack of sniffles, itchiness or shortness of breath on their dog or cat. If the symptoms persist, they may feel forced to take the pet to an animal shelter where the animal risks getting killed because no one else will adopt it.

Before you get rid of your animal pal, you need to consider whether that pet—and more specifically, their saliva, fur or skin dander—is really the cause of your discomfort. MSN.com reports that allergies typically “stem from exposure to a number of different triggers” and that “cumulatively, you may reach a threshold where your asthma or sinuses get aggravated by any and all of them.”

Milk and dairy products may be one contributor to the allergic reactions you may be experiencing. Human beings “are the only species who consume the milk into adulthood and also the only species that consumes the milk of another species.” Lactose intolerance or the inability to digest milk is very common, as are allergies to milk proteins, which can lead to the overproduction of mucus. Try going dairy free for a few weeks to see if any of your symptoms subside.

Dust mites could also be a possible culprit. You can help minimize contact with them by “chang[ing] your bed linens regularly and wash[ing] them in super-hot water when you do.” It’s also a good idea to regularly wash curtains and throw pillows and to vacuum sofas and other upholstered furniture. It may also be possible that pollen or other air pollutants are responsible for your symptoms: check your local weather news to see if levels of one or both are high. If so, keep windows closed and “limit exposure to outside air during these times.”

If your cat or dog really is aggravating your allergies, a number of ways exist to lessen the impact on your lungs and sinuses:

  • Use an air purifier: you will need to buy one for every room, but fortunately, purifiers are not expensive.
  • Invest in a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter to more effectively remove allergens from furniture and carpets.
  • Give your pet regular baths to control dander. In the case of cats, “wet down a washcloth with very warm, even hot water.” So long as the washcloth isn’t soaking wet, your feline friend “shouldn’t notice the wetness because [he or she] will love the heat.”
  • Close off access to your bedroom: “reducing your exposure to potential pet allergens for 10 or so hours that night may be enough to manage your symptoms.”