Caretaker Health Tips: Dealing with Allergies
The indulged furries' dad is allergic to cats, and somewhat allergic to dogs. We use the following techniques to help reduce his allergy reactions.
A little common sense goes a long way. The pets get lots of
love, petting, and attention, but the cats are not allowed to smother
dad's face! That's a tough one for Ed,
who loves to sit up on your chest. After petting someone,
dad pays particular attention to not touching his eyes or nose before
he washes his hands.
A Pet Free Zone
The master bedroom is strictly off-limits to the pets. They've
ventured through from time to time, but just for a quick look at
what's behind the closed door! You probably spend 6-8 hours a
day in your bedroom sleeping, and keeping the pets out will provide a
huge amount of allergy relief. When we had 2 cats, this was a hard and fast rule. But when Felix was our only kitty, the rules were relaxed and he was allowed in the bedroom. But he was very good at sleeping all night at the foot of the bed, and didn't wander up by dad's head.
Clothes & Laundry
Our work clothes are kept in separate laundry baskets and washed separately from the casual clothes we wear around the house. This helps keep the pet hair and dander off the work clothes. Bedding and towels from the master bedroom are also laundered separately from the bedding and towels used in the mom/pet bathroom and mom/pet bedroom. We also use laundry detergent that is free of dyes and perfumes.
Regular grooming helps reduce shedding & dander, and if you can brush the dog outside or the cats & dog in the bathroom away from the rest of the house, that's best. Bathing is helpful too, but that can only be done occasionally, especially with the cats. Simply wiping the cats with a damp washcloth will help reduce the allergens on their fur, and it won't upset them.
Fur & Dander Control
Vacuum regularly and use lots of pet hair pick-up rollers and lint brushes. It's recommended that the non-allergic person do the vacuuming because of the dust that's stirred up. See the Product Recommendations page for more info on cleaning supplies.
HEPA Air Filters
We have two HEPA air filters that are designed for reducing allergens in a room-sized area (living room, bedroom). There are always new models, so do a little research on the web and find one that's right for you. If you have a central forced-air heating / air conditioning system, you may be able to install air filters that trap a lot of the allergens. We use Filtrete Microallergan air filters (the red one).
We have reduced or eliminated as many upholstered and fabric surfaces
as possible. Less than 1/2 our house has carpet, which is a resevoir for allergans. The bedrooms, kitchen, and bathrooms all have
solid-surface flooring (wood, linoleum).
Allergy Shots / Prescription medications
Allergy shots and anti-allergy medications have been very helpful. They're not for everyone, but if you're committed to living with pets
and you're allergic to them, sometimes this is part of the
solution. If your allergies are mild, over the counter
anti-allergy medications might work for you. Consult your human
doctor on this issue. It's easy for your doctor to say "get
rid of the pets" or "put them outside". So make
it clear that you ARE living with pets, they are in your home, and
putting them out or finding them a new home is your last resort. I
have to give "Dad" credit for living with
"Mom's" cats, dog, and hamsters when he's allergic. I
guess that entitles him to no poop-scooping duties!
More resources about cat allergies (since "dad" is much more allergic to cats than dogs)