Pet Peeves - Part 4: Animallergies!
by Leonard Rego
Whoever started the rumour that black cats are unlucky must have been allergic to them! In the bargain, the poor ebony-coated pussycat got a bad reputation for being 'evil', but the truth is that it all it does is make some people sneeze and wheeze more than fairer furred felines.
And cats are not the only animals to blame for those symptoms. As much as 15 percent of people around the world are allergic to both, cats and dogs, but you don't just give up being friends with someone who has, say, body odour - you just gift him or her with a deodorant and offer some friendly advice!
The same goes for your pet. Instead of giving it away, you'd be better off just learning to control those allergic reactions (unless, of course, you have serious symptoms). What's a sneeze or two between good friends, eh?
Not Spot's fault
Remember this - all dogs and cats are 'allergenic' (allergy causing) to people who are allergic to animals. There's nothing wrong with your pet if you have unpleasant reactions when it is around; it's just that you're probably sensitive to the 'allergens' that linger in its fur and often float around in the air. These allergens can also be found in your pet's dander (dried skin particles), saliva, pee and poop, so I don't need to tell you how important it is to ensure good hygiene and cleanliness.
Your symptoms may range from mild sniffling and sneezing to more serious problems like asthma, in which case you might want to talk to mum and dad about giving your pet away to a good home.
If you're allergic to dust, insecticides, pollen, or even cigarette smoke, you'll need to control the overall levels of these allergens in your home, instead of blaming your poor pet.
Hold that sneeze
If your or a family member's allergies are bearable and not serious in any way, here's what you can do to reduce the symptoms:
No fly zone: You can create an 'allergy-free' zone in your house, where the allergens cannot fly around or stick to anything. The best room for this is your bedroom, which should be out-of-bounds to your pet. Talk to dad about getting a HEPA (pronounced 'heppa') air cleaner, which is a sort of filter that you can find at a good home or garden store. You can also use 'impermeable' covers (which dust mites and allergens cannot get into) for the mattresses and pillows. Your HEPA air cleaners can also be used at other places in your home, and if you can avoid using thick curtains and carpets, so much the better. Here's a no-brainer: wash your couch covers and cushion covers frequently. A 'microfilter' bag in a vacuum cleaner is a great idea, as it does a good job of catching many types of allergens.
Water therapy: Give your pet a bath every week, as this can reduce the level of allergies as much as 84 percent! This is even more effective than those fur sprays that claim to reduce the presence of allergens. Yeah, yeah, I know cats don't like water too much, but you can get El Pussygato used to the idea. Just fill a large pan or sink with one or two inches of lukewarm water, and lay a heavy towel at the bottom for grip. Using your calmest voice, place your cat in the tub, and move a sprinkler over his or her body. Plain water is all you need. Don't use a shampoo without checking with your vet first, as cats can be very sensitive to certain chemicals. Rinse its fur well and use a towel for drying it off - a special treat will motivate it to stay put and not get frisky the next time around!
Immunotherapy: OK, that's a big word for allergy shots you can take to reduce the symptoms of your allergies, but it's painful enough spelling it and they won't get rid of your symptoms totally. Your doctor can give you a good idea of how many shots you need and how frequently. Other treatments include medicines you can take, so check about these as well.
An itch in time saves nine
If you know someone in your home is allergic to animals, and you don't already own one, it's best not to bring pets home. It's not fair to either your family member or the pet who you might have to give up after a while. After all, prevention is better than cure.
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Copyright © 2004-2005 Leonard Rego. All rights reserved.