SPECIAL NOTE: The holidays are almost upon us, creating lots of extra opportunities for Fluffy and Fido to get into mischief. Keep your holidays happy by taking a few extra minutes to pet-proof your decorations and put away toxic foods. And remember, no turkey bones for Fido!
FIDO: Hey, Fluff, why are you wearing a T-shirt?
FLUFFY: Can you believe it – mom found out that she’s allergic to me! The doc suggested that she put me in a T-shirt when her allergies are bad.
FIDO: You look funny!
FLUFFY: I know. But I’m so happy, because now she can pet me and it doesn’t make her sneeze as much. She says it’s not perfect, but it’s so much better, so she’s happy, too.
FIDO: I’m glad my mom’s not allergic to me. Do you think we should have Meryl give some tips to moms and dads with pet allergies?
FLUFFY: Great idea, Fido. Let’s go get her.
…And so they did. Here are some quick and easy ways to live happily ever after with your pet…and your pet allergies!
Cover your furniture. This tip’s an oldie but goodie. Get some colorful, washable throws and cover your furniture. The key word here is washable. You’ll want to grab the throws and wash them two or three times a week. This will minimize the allergens that live in them and also help keep the air cleaner.
And speaking of clean air… Invest in a couple of fans with HEPA filters. HEPA filters are great at picking up small particles, so they are very effective at trapping pet dander, which is light and sticky. Even the small fans do a good job, so get one for every room. And while you’re at it, make sure your vacuum cleaner also has a HEPA filter. That will trap the pet dander that comes up from the floor when you vacuum.
Wash your hands after a petting session. And no kissing! Petting our furry friends is half the pleasure of having them, and the other half may just be covering their sweet faces with kisses. Unfortunately, both of these pleasures are key factors in allergic reactions. When you kiss your pet, you get pet dander on your face. This can cause serious skin allergies and a break down of the protective skin barrier that helps keep your skin healthy and hydrated. Petting our animals transfers allergens to our hands, which we then deposit on our skin, eyes, nose, scalp and any other body part we touch. Wash up after a petting session to stop much of this transfer.
Treat your symptoms. Some allergy symptoms are subtle enough that we don’t even realize they’re allergies. A bit of a headache, a few sneezes, a scratchy throat. But when it goes beyond that, and you become uncomfortable, don’t suffer. Many people control their allergies with over the counter medications, eye drops and nasal sprays. Others do better with allergy shots. Talk to your doctor about what treatment method is right for you.
Bonus Tip: Total transparency here – I would never use this tip! But it’s one that’s recommended by doctors and veterinarians, so here it is: Designate your bedroom an allergy free zone, and keep pets out. If you’re like me and can’t even think about this as an option, then do make sure to wash bedding at least two or three times a week.
The truth is, if you’ve got allergies, you’ve got allergies, and most of us are willing to put up with them in order to keep our beloved pets close to us. There’s no perfect solution, but these tips should help. Use them to make living with pet allergies happier and healthier.
We hope you enjoyed these tips, and that you learned something, too! We’d love to hear from you, so please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meryl Schwarz, M.A., M.Ed., is an animal lover and Certified Professional Coach specializing in grief support for people grieving their beloved animals. Whether you’re grieving a terminal diagnosis, the normal aging process, a disappearance or a death, Meryl offers compassionate and caring support with the wisdom of experience. Visit her website at www.merylschwarz.com to schedule an appointment by Skype or phone.