Tips to control pet allergies, from Harvard Medical School

If you have both a pet and pet allergies, you don't have to give up your pet. Pet lovers can take steps to reduce allergy-induced misery, according to What to do About Allergies, a newly revised Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.

Pet allergies are caused by tiny proteins in pet dander and saliva that are notoriously "sticky" and difficult to eliminate, making pet allergies among the toughest to prevent. These proteins stick to bedding, clothing, and upholstered furniture. This explains why a person with pet allergies can start sneezing from just brushing against a pet owner. It also means that curbing your allergic response requires extra diligence.
If you can't bear to give up your pet, here are some suggestions for controlling allergens in your environment and preventing symptoms:

  • Keep pets out of your bedroom. Your bedding can become a trap for allergens that are difficult to dislodge.
  • Use a HEPA air filter in your home at all times.
  • Give your pet a weekly bath to reduce the allergen count. If bathing is out of the question, try wiping your pet with fragrance-free hypoallergenic baby wipes.
  • After handling your pet, don't touch your eyes, and be sure to wash your hands immediately afterward.
  • Don't keep rodents as pets. They give off highly potent allergens.
  • If you have rodents, have someone else clean the cage.
  • Vacuuming is effective for animal dander only if you use a HEPA filter or a double bag.
  • Get rid of your carpets—they can be reservoirs for allergens. Use washable area rugs.
  • Wash your pet's bedding.

Also in this report:

  • Why are you allergic?
  • What is an allergic reaction?
  • Pinpointing your allergic triggers
  • The changing world of allergy treatments
  • Controlling common allergic conditions
  • Special Section: Self-help strategies
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