Most people would describe themselves as animal lovers. But how can you adopt a pet if you have allergies?
The most common pets in the world are cats and dogs, but statistically speaking, The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology informs that 12 percent (12%) of American people are allergic to cats, and an additional 12 percent (12%) are allergic to dogs.
So if you find yourself in this predicament, here are a few guidelines on what to do before you head over to the store or the pound:
1) Understand that hypoallergenic dogs and hypoallergenic cats are myths. The term caught fire when the First Family adopted a Portuguese water dog named Bo. Because Malia, President Obama’s daughter, has allergies, many news outlets started saying that the animal was the ideal hypoallergenic dog, which is to say that it didn’t cause allergic reactions.
But that pet doesn’t exist. Jessica Vogelsang, DVM, San Diego veterinarian, gave a statement informing that “there is no such thing” as a hypoallergenic dog. She went on to add that “The allergic reaction is triggered by the proteins in their saliva and skin, which of course all dogs and cats have”. Dr. Vogelsang’s claim is also backed up by a recent study published in the American Journal of Rhinology & Allergy.
2) Realize that every dog and every cat is different. The above mentioned study also found that breeds which shed less may not necessarily trigger allergic reactions. And the rule has even more implications than that – if your friends Labrador makes you sneeze, this does not mean that all Labradors will make you sneeze.
Camille DeClementi, VMD, ASPCA veterinarian, gave a statement explaining that “It’s very individual which dogs or cats will set someone with pet allergies off”. One piece of advice that she has for people with allergies is for them to spend some time with the animal that they are interested in adopting and pay attention to how they react to the potential pets.
3) Check if you really are allergic. Clifford Bassett, Allergy & Asthma Care of New York’s medical director and professional allergist, gave a statement saying that if you’ve had an apparent allergic reaction to a stray dog or a stray cat, that may have absolutely nothing to do with the animal itself, and everything to do with the mold spores or the pollens that it may be carrying. The only way to know for sure is to visit an allergist’s office and get tested.
4) Realize that you’ll be spending a lot of time cleaning after your pet. Dr. Bassett advices people with mild allergies to buy a HEPA vacuum as well as a HEPA air purifier in order to help trap dander.
Teaching your pet that they are not allowed in the bedroom can also help protect you from dander and manage your allergies.
As for carpets and heavy drapes, they should be avoided at all costs. Allergens will always linger in these “habitats”, whereas blinds and hardwood floors are easy to wipe down.
5) Remember that you’re not actually allergic to dog hair, but to the skin cells that fall off with it (dander). So Poodles and other non-shedding breeds may prove to have a great advance.
6) Accept that hairless dogs and cats will also expose you to less dander. Have you considered adopting a Sphynx cat, a Chinese Crested dog or a Xoloitzcuintli dog?
7) If earlier we asked to realize that you’ll be spending a lot of time cleaning, now we’re going to tell you that you also need to spend a lot of time grooming your pet. Veterinarians believe that brushing your per regularly and washing them once each week will make dogs lose some of their dander.
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