Q: I’ve never had allergies before and I’ve suddenly started sneezing in my house, especially around my cats. Do you have any suggestions?
A: As many of us know from living with allergies to pets or with family members who are allergic, it is possible to enjoy a wonderful life with animals despite allergic disease. Not that it’s necessarily entirely comfortable, mind you, but it is doable in most cases.
I should know. As a veterinarian who suffers from allergies to her patients, life with allergies can be managed, even with constant contact.
But concessions must be made. Here are my suggestions:
- Bathe often. Routinely bathe your pets (weekly, if possible). Nothing tamps down the allergens that live in their fur and on their skin than a good cleansing. It strips them off the surface and washes them down the drain. Moistened cloths are another option for regular usage.
- Brush frequently. Brushes that preferentially remove the undercoat (which can trap the allergens) will help lift and remove the offending molecules. The Furminator is a good choice. A twice weekly brushing in between bathing is recommended, followed by moistened cloth “bathing.”
- Groom professionally. Keeping the fur at a manageable length can help. Cats with long hair, or those who can no longer groom themselves adequately, are especially in need of professional clipping. The so-called “lion cut” is a style favored by cat groomers and can make a big difference to allergic household members.
- See the vet. Pets with skin disease or self-grooming difficulties are more likely to wreak allergic havoc on allergic household members. Addressing these issues with a vet’s help can be transformative for allergic humans, too.
- Change air conditioning filters. Changing the filters in your house more often (every two weeks or so) can reduce the amount of dander in the house to manageable levels.
- Clean strategically. For routine cleaning, investing in a robotic vacuum cleaner can be a godsend (they work when you’re not at home, which helps). Also, know that using a Swiffer-style cloth on the floor or employing any wet-style cleaning approach is always a safer alternative to traditional sweeping. Allergen-reducing sprays are also available.
- See your doctor. Be kind to yourself and others around you by seeking professional help for any allergies. Plenty of safe and effective remedies are available over the counter or through your doctor.