Pet allergies and your family

Pet allergies and your family

If you or someone in your family has an allergy to a pet, it means they have an overly‐sensitive immune system that reacts to the animal’s dander (skin cells), saliva or urine.1 Unfortunately, people who love pets and don’t have allergies shouldn’t become complacent, as an allergy can develop at any time. Some people, especially children, may not even know they are allergic. Symptoms brought on by a pet allergy include suddenly itchy eyes, wheezing and skin rashes. If you are concerned your child may have a pet allergy, speak to your doctor about performing an allergy test.2 If a family member is diagnosed with a pet allergy fortunately there are several steps you can take to allow your pets and family to live together in relative peace.

Avoid contact as much as possible

The first step to reducing allergy attacks is to minimise contact between the affected family member and the animal responsible. The best way to do this is for the pet to live outdoors on a permanent basis, although this may not always be an option due to climate or the type of pet. If the animal is going to remain in the house, establish ‘pet‐free zones’, including the person’s bedroom. This will minimise the amount of dander and other pet allergens, and reduce the likelihood of an allergic reaction.3

Keep it clean

The next most important thing you can do to minimise allergic reactions in your house is to keep both the house and your pet clean. This includes regular vacuuming, bathing of your pet and keeping cages, kennels and litter trays clean. Also, whenever possible a non‐allergic family member should be responsible for these chores. Replace rugs and carpets with wooden floors or tiles if you can, and consider swapping soft furnishings such as curtains for blinds. Air quality is also important in the case of pet allergies, so consider investing in high‐efficiency particulate air purifiers and vacuum cleaners to reduce levels of air‐borne allergens.3