Pet Dander and Allergies

Keeping a Pet to Which You're Allergic

Getting rid of a pet is not an option for some people. If you choose to keep your pet, take these steps to try and reduce your allergy symptoms.

Pet-proof your bedroom. Make your sleeping area pet-free. Replace bedding and carpets or floor covering if your pet has been in this area.

Clean your pet regularly. Bathe and brush your pet weekly. Check with the veterinarian about products to use to avoid drying out your pet's skin. Have a nonallergic person groom your pet outside to remove loose hair, dander, and saliva. If there's no one else to bathe or brush your pet, wear a face mask and vinyl gloves when grooming your pet. Wash your hands thoroughly afterward. If you keep a caged animal, such as a gerbil, hamster, or bird, ask a nonallergic person to clean the cage regularly.

Keep your pet outside as much as possible. When indoors, keep your pet in areas that can be easily washed, such as on linoleum or vinyl floors. Also, keep pets off the furniture, completely out of the area where you sleep, and out of your car so their dander doesn't settle into the upholstery. This means all the time, not just when you are in the area. Pets leave their dander behind.

Wash your hands. Always wash your hands and change your clothing to reduce exposure to dander after handling or holding your pet.

Cover bedroom vents with allergen-proof filters. Even if you keep your pet out of your sleeping area, it can become contaminated via air ducts in the house. Cover the bedroom vents with allergen-proof filters. Ask your doctor where you can buy these, or close the vents and use an electric heater or room air conditioner.

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Written by Karen Serrano, MD Emergency Medicine resident at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Reviewed by Lisa V. Suffian, MD Instructor of Clinical Pediatrics in the Division of Allergy and Pulmonary Medicine at Saint Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital, Saint Louis University Board certified in Allergy and Immunology Last updated June 2008

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