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Pet allergies are relatively common. In fact, nearly 50 million Americans have some form of pet allergy. However, what is more interesting is that many of these same people are still able to have pets. german shepherd poodle mix So, just because you have pet allergies does not mean you cannot have a pet. You just need to be proactive in dealing with symptoms. There are many ways you can reduce the symptoms of pet allergies. Use this checklist to make sure you are doing all you can to make living with pet allergies more manageable:

1. Create an Allergy-free Environment

· Have at least one room-at minimum the allergy sufferer’s room-where the pet is not allowed.

· Have seating that is just for the person(s) with pet allergies.

· Use leather furniture and install hardwood or smooth flooring rather than carpet as they are easier to clean and do not hold particles. It is also recommended that you limit the amount of draperies.

· In some extreme cases, pet lovers with allergies opt to close house wide ducts to the bedroom(s) and use portable heating and cooling.

· Cover mattresses, box springs and pillows with zippered, plastic allergy-proof cases. In addition, buy pillows and mattresses with non-allergenic polyester filling.

2 Use HEPA Air Cleaners

· HEPA air cleaners -either a house-wide unit or a portable one- should be in every room of the home.

· Purchase a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter. If you use a maid service, be sure that the cleaners they use are hypoallergenic and that the vacuum cleaners have HEPA filters.

· Replace central heating/cooling system air filters and humidifiers often.

3. Keep Clean!

· Wash all bedding and linens frequently in hot water as this will flush away dander that has settled.

· If you do have heavy carpets, curtains or upholstery, have it steam-cleaned 3-4 times a year.

· Wash baseboards, floors and walls regularly to keep build-up of pet dander minimal. Dust often, using a damp cloth and vacuum cleaners so that dust and dander is picked up easily without being stirred up.

· Open outside windows/doors whenever possible and use exhaust fans to encourage good, clean airflow.

· Brush your pet often, preferably daily. Bathe your pet frequently-ideally, once a week, using a hypoallergenic or oatmeal based shampoo. Depending on the severity of the person’s allergy, it may be prudent to have someone else do this for you. (You may wish to check at a local college to see if there are any students who would like to make extra money.)

· Wash your hands immediately after petting or grooming your pet. Keep your hands away from your face until you have washed. Depending on your allergy situations, it may be wise to change clothes after pet grooming, as well.

4. Allergy Precautions Specifically for Cat Owners

· Do not use deodorized litter or one that throws dust; in addition, let the non-allergic household members take care of litter box chores

· If you wish to get a cat, but have pet allergies, get a female cat as they produce fewer allergies than males.

5. Behavioral Precautions for You and Your Pet

· If you have pet allergies, don’t smoke! This lowers your allergen resistance and aggravates your lungs.

· Feed your pet a well-balanced diet that includes natural fats as this adds moisture to their skin, resulting in less shedding.

· Try traditional treatments such as immunotherapy allergy shots, steroidal and antihistamine nose sprays or antihistamine pills.

· Use a homeopathic approach to build up your immune system. Some of these are: Vitamin C; Echinacea taken in tincture form; Urtica helps reduce the reactions people whose pet allergies manifest in rashes; Sponge Cucumber, taken in either tincture or tablet without side effects, is an alternative to nasal sprays and reduces itching/discharge from the nose or eyes and Devil’s Claw-taken daily, can desensitize pet allergies in as little as 3 months.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic breed of dog or cat. However, there are breeds that produce less dander. Dog breeds that shed less are Airedale, Irishwater Spaniels, Italian Greyhounds, Maltese, Poodles, Schnauzers, Shih Tzu, assorted breeds of terriers, greyhounds, assorted breeds of terriers, greyhounds and the Mexican hairless Xoloitzcuintli. Cat breads that shed little or no hair are the Devon Rex, the Cornish Rex and the Sphynx.