Good news! Shelter-in-place orders have triggered an unprecedented number of pet adoptions. In some cities, shelters are actually empty due to adoptions increasing by 70 percent! If you’re one of many people welcoming a pet into your home for the first time, you know the transition naturally entails a few hiccups (the chewed-up coffee table, the scratches on your couch, the accident on your floor)…but you’re willing to tolerate all that, because your new family member is The Cutest. However, there’s one hiccup that takes more than training to overcome: realizing you’re allergic to your pet. Want to avoid feeling miserable and avoid returning your furry friend at all costs? Here’s what to do next.
- Find out whether you’re actually allergic to your pet. The symptoms of pet allergies – sneezing, sniffles, itchy eyes – are similar to those accompanying seasonal allergies, so consult an allergist to determine what precisely is triggering your reaction.
- Make your bedroom a pet-free zone. Your bedding provides a nice cozy place for allergens to hide, and that’s the last thing you need! Special anti-allergy bedding can help, but your best bet is keeping your pet out of your bedroom altogether.
- Keep a pristine home. This is a great excuse to actually vacuum once per week, like you always tell your mom you do. Anything from washing a wall your pet touched to shampooing your rugs can make a difference!
- Invest in an allergy filter. Keep in mind that vacuuming is only effective for dander if you use a HEPA filter or a double bag.
- Stick to regular grooming sessions. Regular brushing can reduce the allergen count and keep shedding to a minimum – plus, it’s a great opportunity for you and your pet to bond!
- Consider allergy shots. This is not a quick fix; allergy shots are a commitment, and it can take up to 5 years of monthly shots before you no longer need medication and no longer have symptoms, but it may be worth it if you know you’re going to spend your life around pets.
Most importantly, don’t lose hope! Doctors aren’t sure why, but people have been known to outgrow pet allergies with time. Plus, if you’ve got kids, introducing them to pets from a young age is proven to protect them from developing allergies later in life.