For many people, a pet isn’t just a dog or a cat, but a member of the family and a best friend. Pets can make your life happier, healthier, and fuller. But if you or your child has an allergy to cats or dogs, the joy that comes from owning a pet may also come with itchy eyes, stuffy sinuses, and headaches. If your pet is triggering your allergies, doctors often recommend removing the pet from the household. But few people are willing to part with a beloved family member.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with pet allergies: it’s not the pet itself that causes the problem, but dander that accumulates in carpeting, curtains, furniture, and beds. Many people try washing their pets frequently, giving them pills or sprays to prevent shedding, and steam cleaning carpets. But there’s little evidence that these tactics work.
The good news is there’s still something you can do!
Relief from Triggering Your Allergies
Following these four steps (from the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology) can drastically reduce the amount of allergens in your house:
- Choose hard surfaces (wood, stone, or tile) instead of carpet.
- Choose leather or microfiber over fabric upholstery.
- Wash bedding and curtains at 140° F or wash twice.
- Use protective covers on mattresses and pillows, and tightly-woven fabrics on beds.
All of these evidence-based changes help reduce the amount of dander that collects in fabrics, carpeting, and bedding. And using more than one of these techniques can drastically improve your allergy symptoms.
See the best air purifiers for pet allergies.