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Hints and Tips
  • Create an "allergy free" zone in the home—preferably the bedroom—and strictly prohibit the pet's access to it. Use a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner (available at almost any home and garden store or discount department store) in the bedroom. Consider using impermeable covers for the mattress and pillows because allergen particles brought into the room on clothes and other objects can accumulate in them.

  • Use HEPA air cleaners throughout the rest of the home, and avoid dust-and-dander-catching furnishings such as cloth curtains and blinds and carpeted floors. Clean frequently and thoroughly to remove dust and dander, washing articles such as couch covers and pillows, curtains, and pet beds. Use a "microfilter" bag in the vacuum cleaner to effectively catch all the allergens.

  • Allergic individuals should not pet, hug or kiss their pets because of the allergens on the animal's fur or saliva.

  • Keep pets off furniture, especially upholstered furniture where animal dander can be transferred.

  • Litter boxes should be placed in an area unconnected to the air supply for the rest of the home, and should be avoided by allergic individuals.

  • Always wear a protective mask and gloves when grooming your pet.

  • Remove clothing worn after grooming or playing with pets. Keep the clothing, now full of animal dander, out of the bedroom. Wash clothing with Allergen Wash.

  • Always wash your face, hands and arms after grooming or playing with pets to remove animal dander.  

  • Bathing your pet on a weekly basis can reduce the level of allergens on fur by as much as 84 percent. Although products are available that claim to reduce pet allergens when sprayed on the animal's fur, studies show they are less effective than a weekly bath. Even cats can become accustomed to being bathed; check with your veterinarian's staff or a good book on pet care for directions about how to do this properly, and use whatever shampoo your veterinarian recommends. You may also use a "Dry" shampoo.

  • Air currents from forced-air heating and air-conditioning will spread the allergens throughout the house. Homes with forced-air heating and/or air-conditioning may be fitted with a central air cleaner, or a room air purifier can be used at least four hours per day.

  • On a similar note, those allergic to birds should not use feather pillows or down comforters. If a feather pillow is used, it should be encased in a protective cover, so none of the feathers can escape.
  • Don't be quick to blame the family pet for allergies. Ask your allergist to specifically test for allergies to pet dander, rather than making an assumption. And understand that allergies are cumulative. Many allergy sufferers are sensitive to more than one allergen. So if you're allergic to dust, insecticides, pollen, cigarette smoke, and cat dander, you'll need to reduce the overall allergen level in your environment by concentrating on all of the causes, not just the pet allergy. For example, you may need to step up measures to remove cat dander from your home and carefully avoid cigarette smoke during spring, when it is difficult to avoid exposure to pollen.
  • Immunotherapy (allergy shots) can improve symptoms but cannot eliminate them entirely. They work by gradually desensitizing a person's immune system to the pet allergens. Allergy-causing proteins are injected under the person's skin, triggering the body to produce antibodies (protective proteins) which block the pet allergen from causing a reaction. Patients are usually given one dose per week for a few weeks to months (depending on the severity of the allergy) and then can often manage with one injection per month.
  • Additional treatments for allergies to pets are symptomatic, including steroidal and antihistamine nose sprays and antihistamine pills. For asthma, there are multiple medications, sprays, and inhalers available. It is important to find an allergist who understands your commitment to living with your pet. A combination of approaches—medical control of symptoms, good housecleaning methods, and immunotherapy—is most likely to succeed in allowing an allergic person to live with pets.