Many pet lovers would rather suffer from allergies (or have their spouse suffer) than to get rid of their pets. Not only do pets provide companionship, they are as important to some families as children. They are truly the pride and joy of their owners.
Unfortunately, many owners and their family members suffer allergic reactions to these beloved members of the family. These reactions range from mild nasal congestion, watery eyes, and repetitive sneezing to severe breathing difficulties. Sensitive individuals can stop breathing within minutes after an exposure to cat dander.
Sources of Pet Allergy
Children can be allergic to pets for many reasons. The most common sources of allergy include the skin of the animal, their saliva, and their urine. Contrary to common beliefs, pet hair is not a significant source of allergy for most people. The feathers and scales of some pets are also sources of allergy.
Pet dander, the skin that flakes off from animals, is one of the most potent sources of allergy. Dander is microscopic and can travel anywhere in a house through air currents. Even after a pet is removed from the house, the dander can remain in the house for up to seven months. This is the reason why a new homeowner or a new apartment tenant may experience severe allergy to a pet of the previous dweller.
Even though the best advice to treat a pet allergy is to get rid of the pets, this is not always an acceptable option for many pet owners. Some allergists recommend switching to fish instead of cats or dogs. This substitution is a mere joke for most cat and dog lovers. There simply is no replacement for their beloved furry friends.
If you must have pets around the house, there are still things you can do to minimize allergic reaction in your children. Simply having the pets stay in the yard is a huge improvement. If this is unacceptable for you, perhaps you can at least keep the pets out of the child's bedroom or limit the animal to a single room inside the house. It's not a perfect solution, but it's better than having the pet spending the night in bed with the child.
Many people believe that having shorthaired pets reduces their chance of developing allergies. This is largely a myth. However, hairy animals may trigger more allergic reactions if they are not washed frequently. Longer hairs tend to trap more dust and bacteria, which could cause allergic reactions on their own.
Obviously, if your child has a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction to your pet, such as breathing difficulties, giving the pet up for adoption is absolutely necessary. But remember, the pet dander may stay inside the house for up to seven months after the animal leaves, so don't expect an immediate resolution of allergic symptoms once the pet is gone.