When it comes to allergies and asthma it’s true that it can be rather tricky having a pet as a member of the family . . . especially when that pet lives indoors. When the wheezing gets tough and the sneezers get going . . . often times, even as pet lovers, our love for our children wins over in the decision to take a pet from the home or in making drastic changes to improve the health of our child.
If you have a little wheezer or sneezer in your home, read on to find some of our favorite tips for living with asthma, allergies and pets to boot.
Discovering Your Allergies
Whether you or your little ones have developed new allergies or have been long time suffers, a trip to the local allergist and asthma center in your area can do wonders for managing your symptoms. Going in for an allergy panel simply for a pet may sound extreme, but it’s important to remember that not only will this test be able to see what pet triggers you have, it may also be able to rule out or diagnose you with other allergies . . . it could be that your chronic sneezing is coming from another area of your home and it could have nothing to do with your pet.
This test is relatively painless . . . it simply involves a few scrapes similar to a fingernail scratch. The nurse or doctor will then rub allergy “triggers’ onto these scrapes. If you are allergic, don’t worry. You won’t have any internal reactions such as wheezing. The patch of skin tested will simply become irritated.
Once your triggers are determined, your doctor will work with you to find the perfect prevention medication and any needed rescue medications just in case. This will help you be prepared if an asthma attack occurs.
Making Tough Decisions
After you determine your triggers, prevention medications can be a great help in tolerating your indoor pet. In fact, many asthma suffers are actually encouraged to introduce animals into the home. They can often, in some cases, build up a resistance to triggers. However, you may find that you just aren’t one of those people who benefit from indoor pets.
If this is the case, you will have to make some tough decisions. If you have a basement, you can try moving your pet downstairs for a while just to see if your pet does indeed make matters worse. This is a great testing ground before taking the “give away” leap.
While an improvement in symptoms can be heartbreaking and rewarding at the same time, moving your pet downstairs can be a comforting factor if you do decide to give your pet to another loving family. Knowing that this is the only way can really ease guilt even if just a little.
If you come to the conclusion that giving your pet away is the only healthy solution, try giving your pet to another family member or friend who enjoys the pet’s company. This will ease the transition for your pet and also ensure that you or your child can still see the pet and be an active part of their life.
Tips on Keeping Triggers to a Minimum
One of the most important things in keeping triggers low is cleanliness. Change potty pads several times a day and vacuum often. Have a non-allergic family member clean out your pet’s cage and don’t allow pet’s in areas where you sleep. This will help create a “safe haven” for you and your triggers, providing a place where your weary nose can take a breather.
It’s important to keep your pets tidy too. While you don’t want to bathe them to the point of unhealthy coats – it’s perfectly ok to bathe them more often than you would if you weren’t allergic. Keep them properly groomed . . . if the breed allows, keep hair trimmed and short. It will keep dander and fur deposits to a minimum.
When it comes to living with asthma, allergies and pets . . . with a little time and patience you will find that they can all live together harmoniously. For more information on asthma and allergies including coping tips and dog breeds considered “safe” for asthmatic patients, visit the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.