What to Do If You’re Allergic to Your Pet
It can come as a shock when you learn that somebody in your family is allergic to the family pet – especially when this comes as news and you’ve had the animal for years. After all, our beloved pets are like people. They’re one of us.
So what are the options in this emotionally-charged dilemma?
“That’s easy. Get rid of the family member who’s allergic,” jokes Dr. Mark Greenwald, a Toronto-based allergist and the founder of EpiCentre Medical. “Most families, even with children who are severely allergic, refuse to get rid of the pet.”
But what if someone is only mildly allergic? Doesn’t that make a difference? Not really, according to Dr. Greenwald, who says you’re either allergic or you’re not. There’s no in between with allergies. “It’s like when you’re pregnant. There’s no such thing as a little bit pregnant,” he says. “Gauging severity is important, but it’s kind of like asking what size match you need to start a forest fire.”
According to the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council of Canada, roughly half of Canadian households own some kind of pet. And the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology estimates that approximately 10 per cent of the general population may be allergic to animals.
1) At a minimum, keep the pet out of the bedroom and away from things like pillows and pyjamas.
2) Simplify the bedroom so it isn’t so much of a dander collector, which can and will be transported in from other rooms. “We recommend you get a marble slab bed in a stainless steel room in a nice house in Arizona,” jokes Dr. Greenwald.
And get rid of carpets and anything else, like stuffed animals, throws and extra pillows, which collect allergens.
3) Never groom the pet in the home. Take it outside or to a groomer. “All you’re doing is releasing more allergen into the air.”