Pet Allergies - The Humans

Our cat, Cayenne, was looking at me while I wrote today. I think she's fully aware of the situation - she came and jumped up in my lap, snuggled around my face and then plopped down for a nap.

So what's the big deal? Some people would love to have a devoted lap kitty like Cay. She's sweet and lovable and gentle. But I'm sure she's figured out that I'm horribly allergic to her!

If you're like me, you have sympathy for the itchy eyes, sneezing and sinus pressure that come along with pet allergies. There's nothing better than loving on your kitty while making sure the tissue box is handy.

Pet allergies come when your immune system overreacts to something the body thinks is harmful. Cayenne isn't harmful, but my system thinks her hair and dander are offensive, so it sends out histamine to counteract them. That's where the symptoms like red, itchy eyes and difficulty breathing come from.

Now on to the good news. There are ways to live peacefully in the same house as the sweet little pets causing this great big problem. While the obvious is to get rid of the cause of the allergy, that's usually a heart-breaking decision, so let's look at some less drastic options.

* Keep your pet well groomed. Bathe them often and brush or comb them to remove loose hair. You may find that this exacerbates the problem, so ask a loving, caring, wonderful sweet someone else to take care of that chore.

* Clean the floors and walls frequently. It's easy to see the hair in our house - black lab hair on everything light-colored and white Cayenne hair on everything that is dark-colored. It may be time consuming to try to get it all up, but you'll feel a lot better when you can breathe!

* Wash bedding and clothes as often as possible. Cay is notorious for sleeping by my feet during the night, but I'll wake up to her sitting on my chest, her wet nose against mine. She's just staring and trying to get some breakfast out of the deal, but now her hair is all over the bedding. Laundering and getting rid of the allergen will help you sleep better if this is your situation, too.

* Use a pet hair remover on furniture. If you have not seen the new ones, they're two rollers in a plastic case - you roll it back and forth over your furniture and it sucks up all the hair. Check this out!!!

* Use HEPA filters. These filters in your air system can remove a significant amount of hair, dander and allergens from the air. Keep them clean and change them regularly.

* Restrict your pet to certain areas of the house. This may sound cruel, but it keep a lot of their allergens out of that room. Then you can retreat there in peace and clean air.

* Make a doctor's appointment. Your doctor can suggest and prescribe antihistamines, corticosteroids and decongestants. They may even send you through immunotherapy, a series of allergy shots that can train your system to recognize and accept your allergens.


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