There are instances where a person who had multiple cats as a child may later develop allergies to cats as an adult. 15% of people suffer from dog or cat allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Out of those folks, about 30% still live with a furry friend in their home.
It goes to show that pets are much more important than symptoms. Most people who have allergies to pollen or mold have a higher chance of developing animal allergies. And it isn’t just cats and dogs: rodents, birds and especially horses can have absolutely intense effects on people.
A lot of allergy-plagued people suffer from watery eyes and sneezing, all for the love of pets. Telling an animal lover that they shouldn’t have a furry friend at home is a bit unsympathetic: the heart wants what the heart wants. Often, children raised with pets will overcome their allergies from general exposure, so having them in the household can benefit them in the long-term.
Most people who have pet allergies have reactions to dander, which is the dead skin shed by animals, but it can extend to the saliva and urine of an animal. It doesn’t really matter if the dog or cat has thicker or thinner fur, as people are not allergic to the fur itself. It's whether or not the breed produces higher levels of dander.
Some great dog breeds with lower levels of dander include poodles, terriers, Bichon Frise, and Schnauzers, as their hair is soft and always growing.
As for cats, there are the hairless variety that are incredibly low in allergens. If you're looking for a furry feline, go for a Balinese or a Devon Rex. Check out more optimal breeds here.
Pet allergies can start up at any point in a person’s life. Constant allergies are pretty much the worst, and can run from mild sneezing and runny noses to wheezing, watery and itchy eyes, rashes, hives, and coughing. There is hope for those suffering from these symptoms though.
If you are resolute in getting a pet, there are solutions--other than getting a lizard or fish--that can make your life a lot easier.
Wash your hands. We often overlook the necessity of washing hands after spending time with a pet, but once you touch your face, it’s game over. Keep some wet wipes in a bag or pocket if you know you’re going to be spending face time with Fido or Princess or Bob.
Keep your pet out of the bedroom. You spend most of your time at home in there, so limit the dander by closing your door.
High-quality air filters are an excellent way to cut down on dander inhalation, especially when placed in the bedroom. Make sure you dust with a wet cloth, rather than a dry one, too!
Even though it’s everyone’s least favorite thing in the world, vacuuming and mopping floors every couple of days will help you breathe easier. For intense allergies and anti-cleaning tendencies, think about getting a Roomba. They might be pricy, but they're effective and best of all: clean for you!
Get immunotherapy (allergy shots) if necessary. I’ve been on the receiving end of the needle, and I have to admit that it changed my life for the better. While they can be costly, I could have never gotten rid of my pets!
Before you blame the animal in question, see a medical allergist to see if there are other environmental factors causing your reactions.
Dander flaking is often caused by dry skin, so keep your pet’s coat healthy with regular brushing and a fatty acid supplement. Your pet’s coat will also look ragingly gorgeous.
If you’ve got a garden or a backyard and you trust your pet, have them spend as much time outside as possible. The less they’re inside, the less dander inside. This is a good option unless you suffer from pollen or other outdoor allergens.
Using steroidal and antihistamine nasal sprays and/or tablets are an option to control symptoms.
Get an allergist who understands and sympathizes with your pet-related allergies. In extremely rare cases, the owner’s allergies are so severe that removing the animal from the home is the only option. With the right amount of cleaning and attention to detail, however, pet allergies can be limited and even overcome. Speaking from personal experience, it's totally worth it.