Avoiding exposure to pets is the best remedy for pet allergy. For many people that doesn't sound like a good option, because family members are often very attached to their pets. Talk to your doctor about whether reducing exposure to your pet, rather than finding a new home for your pet, may be sufficient for managing your pet allergy.
If you find a new home for your pet
If you do find a new home for your pet, your allergy symptoms won't disappear immediately. Even after a thorough cleaning, your house may have significant levels of pet allergens for several weeks or months. The following steps can help lower pet allergen levels in a newly pet-free home:
- Clean. Have someone without pet allergies clean the entire house, including a thorough washing of the ceilings and walls.
- Replace or move upholstered furniture. Replace upholstered furniture if possible, as cleaning won't remove all pet allergens from upholstery. Move upholstered furniture from your bedroom into another area of your home.
- Replace carpets. If possible, replace carpeting, particularly in your bedroom.
- Replace bedding. Replace sheets, blankets and other bedcovers, because it's difficult to wash away pet allergens completely. Replace bed pillows. If you can't replace your mattress and box spring, encase them in allergen-blocking covers.
- Use high-efficiency filters. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters for your air ducts may trap allergens in the air, and HEPA vacuum bags may reduce the amount of dander rustled up by your cleaning. HEPA air purifiers also may reduce airborne pet allergens.
If you keep your pet
If you keep your pet, you can help minimize the allergens in your home with these tips:
- Bathe your pet frequently. Ask a family member or friend without allergies to bathe your pet on a weekly basis.
- Establish a pet-free zone. Make certain rooms in your house, such as your bedroom, pet-free zones to reduce allergen levels in those rooms.
- Remove carpeting and dander-attracting furnishings. If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpeting with tile, wood, linoleum or vinyl flooring that won't harbor pet allergens as easily. Consider replacing other allergen-attracting furnishings, such as upholstered furniture, curtains and horizontal blinds.
- Enlist help. When it comes time to clean your pet's kennel, litter box or cage, ask a family member or friend who doesn't have pet allergies to do the work.
- Use high-efficiency filters. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) air purifiers and vent filters may help reduce airborne pet allergens.
- Keep your pet outside. If your pet can live comfortably outside, you can reduce the amount of allergens in your home. This option isn't appropriate for many pets or in certain climates.
If you don't have a pet but are considering adopting or buying one, make sure you don't have pet allergies before making the commitment.