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Your Pet, Your Allergy And You
Over 20% of the UK’s population is affected by an allergic condition, according to data presented by Allergy UK, and pet allergies are a common complaint. For those of us affected, an allergic reaction is produced when the immune system reacts to proteins in an animal’s urine, saliva or skin cells (known as dander). When so many of us want to keep a pet for companionship, health and happiness, how can we navigate our circumstances if the thing we’re allergic to is our dog?
Keep A Clean Space
Allergens can build up in rugs, carpets and curtains, so if you suffer from a pet allergy, it’s worth vacuuming and shampooing soft furnishings regularly. Wipe down walls that your animal comes into contact with, and keep surfaces clean. You can train your dog to stay off the furniture too, minimising the amount of allergens you come into contact with. It’s also advisable to keep your pet out of your bedroom: having one space in your home where your dog is not permitted provides an allergen-free refuge, and will enable you to sleep properly without being exposed to your animal’s dander.
Groom Your Four-Legged Friend
Keeping your pets clean and well-groomed will help you to manage your allergy. You can minimise the dander on your dog - or indeed, any furry pet - with regular brushing and bathing, although you should remember that too much bathing can cause the animal’s skin to dry out, so be careful not to do this too often. Your pet’s bedding should also be cleaned frequently.
Consider Your Diet
There may be small changes you can make to your diet to help reduce your allergic symptoms. Certain foods have properties that can prevent and treat allergies. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish, can reduce inflammation; onions, peppers and berries contain quercitin, which has been shown to reduce histamine reaction; probiotics, such as those found in live yogurt and fermented products may help treat allergies; spirulina, in addition to its skincare benefits, can also help control immune function, improving allergic symptoms; and Vitamin C, found in abundance in many fruits, can also help improve reactions to allergens.
Choose A Low-Shedding Breed
If you haven’t yet bought your dog, it’s worth considering a breed that will shed less. While a completely hypoallergenic pet isn’t possible, an animal that sheds less hair will leave fewer dander deposits around your home, minimising your exposure to the allergen. Miniature poodles, Airedale terriers and miniature schnauzers are all good choices, as are the maltese, bichon frise and Italian greyhound.
Being both an allergy sufferer and an animal lover is an unfortunate combination, but one that can be managed with careful consideration: with a bit of work, you can still benefit from the joys of pet ownership.