If you decide to take this prescribed route, don't expect instant relief from allergy and asthma symptoms. It takes an average of 20 weeks, plus daily heavy-duty vacuuming, dusting, and washing, as well as carpet cleaning, to reduce the levels of allergens to those found in pet-free homes. While people with mild to moderate pet allergies may sometimes be able to keep their pets by following the above recommendations, those with severe pet allergies and/or asthma or who suffer life-threatening reactions may need to give them up. Saying good-bye to a beloved pet is never easy, especially for children. But there are ways to make the ordeal a little easier. Try these suggestions for easing the emotional trauma of giving away a pet:
Think it out together:
Start with a family brainstorming session in which each family member presents their own ideas and options for giving away the pet. When children help find a good home for their companion, they are better able to deal with the loss.
Hear ye, hear ye:
Spread the word to family, friends, and coworkers about the need to relocate your pet. Just be sure they are aware of the medical reason so that potential adopters will not think you are trying to pass off a carpet-chewing, ill-tempered problem pet. If you're not successful with personal contacts, advertise your pet in the newspaper's pet section. Again, be sure to mention in the ad that you're giving the pet away for medical reasons, and screen people as best you can to find a good home. The grocery store community bulletin board is another good place to advertise. Put up signs with pictures of your pet and descriptions of its personality.
If newspaper and grocery store advertising fails to produce a satisfactory home, it is time to get creative. Try taking your dog to a popular park, carrying a sign describing your plight. Or go door to door with a picture of your cat -- or approach a pet-store owner about selling your bird.
Give them shelter:
Sending a pet to a shelter is a last-ditch option, when all else has failed and your family's health is threatened. Shelter living is very traumatic for a pet accustomed to a household, and older pets probably will not get adopted. There are some very good no-kill animal shelters that are an alternative to city animal shelters, but their resources are limited financially and your pet will do much better in a family environment.
Handling the Demand for a Pet
Even when there's an allergic person in the household, there will be family members (especially children) who believe the world will end if they don't have a pet. Persistent begging can be such a source of irritation to parents that they relent. If a pet is necessary to prevent parental insanity (or for other reasons), remember that pet allergens are the proteins found in dander, as well as the saliva and urine of cats and dogs. Find a pet without fur or one that doesn't produce allergy-causing excretions. Let it be known that the cute and cuddly don't fit into this category.
Tropical fish make the ideal pet for allergy sufferers, as long as the aquarium does not add to the humidity in a room and mold doesn't grow around the rim. Picking out beautiful tropical fish can be a fun family activity and one that may help kids get over not having a four-legged fluff ball. For adults, a koi pond may be a good investment because everyone loves watching these brilliantly colored fish. Some koi are tame enough to be petted, too. Hermit crabs make for an unusual pet, and they are generally low maintenance. Snakes, turtles, salamanders, and lizards are also possibilities, but some of these pets require a lot of maintenance. Many need humid environments, which can set off mold and dust-mite allergies. And some may not be appropriate due to other health or nonhealth concerns. Thoroughly investigate these choices before selecting a pet, and make sure the allergic person does not have any reactions.
Dealing with pet allergies can be a strain on the family. First you need to know the extent of the family member's allergy. Then it may be time to make a hard decision. Whatever you decide, you can follow these suggestions for minimizing the disruption to your life.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.