Explainer: 8 tips to control your pet allergies

  • Image: Dog on couch
    Getty Images stock

    Even if you or your child suffer from pet allergies, you don't necessarily need to give up your furry friend. Almost 10 million pet owners — including kids — are allergic to their pet, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

    Pet allergies are caused by tiny proteins in pet dander and saliva that are notoriously difficult to eliminate. These proteins stick to bedding, clothing, and upholstered furniture, which explains why someone with pet allergies can start sneezing from just brushing against a pet owner.

    Keeping a pet when you suffer from allergies requires extra diligence, but several simple strategies can help reduce allergy-induced misery, according to "What to do About Allergies," a newly-revised health report from Harvard Medical School.

    Here are eight ways to control allergens in your home — and keep sneezing to a minimum.

  • Keep pets out of your bedroom

    Image: Beagle
    featurepics.com

    And definitely no dogs or cats on the bed. Comforters, bedspreads and blankets can become a trap for allergens that are difficult to dislodge, even with washing.

  • Use a HEPA air filter

    A HEPA air filter in your home may trap allergens, lessening your family's exposure.

  • Give your pet a weekly bath

    Image: Dog getting a bath
    Maurizio Gambarini  /  Sipa Press file

    Frequent bathing can reduce the allergen count. If bathing is out of the question, try wiping your pet with fragrance-free hypoallergenic baby wipes.

  • Wash your hands

    Image: Washing hands
    Getty Images file

    After playing with a pet, avoid touching your eyes and wash your hands immediately.

  • Don’t keep rodents as pets

    Image: Hamster
    Source: cuteoverload.com

    Mice, gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs give off highly potent allergens that can trigger symptoms. Dust from litter or sawdust found in the bottom of cages may contribute to airborne allergens, so if you do have a pet rodent, have someone else clean the cage.

  • Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter

    Vacuuming is effective for animal dander only if you use a HEPA filter or a double bag, which may reduce the amount of dander kicked up by your cleaning.

  • Get rid of your carpets

    Carpets can trap allergens, making them difficult to remove. Instead, use washable area rugs.

  • Wash your pet’s bedding

    Image: washing machine

    Washing your pet's bedding regularly can help reduce your allergy symptoms.

    If you have strong allergies, you may also consider keeping your pet out of the house if there is a warm and dry covered area for him outside, although be aware that pet dander can still be carried inside on clothing.

  • Source: Harvard Medical School, MayoClinic.com, Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology

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