America is a country that simply loves its pets!
It is estimated that around 30.5% of all American households have a dog — and another 30% have a least one cat. And anyone who has enjoyed the cuddles, company, or unconditional love of a pet understands just how important animals are to our lives.
Americans love their pets so much that they keep them even if they have been diagnosed with allergies. Around 1 out of 3 people who are allergic to cats, for instance, still have a cat in the house and when a doctor recommends that a patient find another home for their pet due to allergies, only about 1 in 5 actually take that advice.
If you are a pet owner who has allergies, then, read on to find out ways that you can manage your condition while still holding on to the cat or the dog that you love!
Call in the Clean Team
If you suffer from allergies but still have a cat or dog around the house, you need to be prepared to go the extra mile in regards to housekeeping. The house needs to be dusted and vacuumed thoroughly at least once a week in order to suck up the dander and hair as well as non-pet-related allergens like dust or mold that settle in the house. If your partner does not have allergies, it is better for them to get this housecleaning done. If you need to do it yourself, consider wearing a mask while doing it to prevent exposure to the allergens.
Consider a Weekly Bath
While there’s no way you could get the average cat anywhere near a bathtub without an epic fight, if you are the proud owner of a dog, then weekly baths should be part of your routine. Like the dusting and vacuuming, this is a lot of extra work, but these weekly grooming sessions can help to safely eliminate excess hair and dander that would otherwise be distributed throughout the house. This particularly helps with dogs who have a thick undercoat which can be the source of a lot of shed hair, depending on the breed. If you combine the weekly bath with a thorough going-over with a good fur brush, this routine will be especially effective.
Spend More Time in Your Laundry Room
Like the extra vacuuming and dusting, you will also have to consider doing more laundry than normal if you are trying to reduce your allergy problems while still keeping your pet. Your bedding (including blankets, sheets, pillowcases and pillows) should be washed weekly, as should things like slip covers on sofas or chairs. If your pet has a pet bed, this, too, should be washed once a week as it is a magnet for hair and dander.
The good news is that there are many products now on the market that can help you in your fight against allergens. The first and most important is a HEPA filter. This special kind of air filter is able to virtually suck dander, dust mites, pollen, mold and other nasties right out of the air and does so with amazing efficiency. In one study, homes with dogs that used HEPA filters were able to reduce the amounts of dander and hair in the air by around 90%. However, in order to be effective, these filters need to be changed and cleaned on the regular basis (usually monthly).
After an air filter, other important things to invest in include hypoallergenic covers for your mattress and pillowcases as well as covers for your chairs or sofas that can be laundered regularly in order to keep them as allergen-free as possible.
Change Out Your Décor
If you are trying to reduce pet allergens in the home, consider this a great excuse to redecorate! The idea here is to reduce the number of “allergen magnets” you have around the house. Getting rid of carpets and opting for flooring like wood, tile or linoleum is a great choice for a cleaner home. Also consider replacing your curtains with blinds. Even the materials you choose for chairs and sofas can make a difference: if you opt for leather couches or bare wood chairs, for instance, these are much easier to wipe down and keep clean.
To be honest, all of this is a lot of work — and if you buy a good filter and change out your home décor, it can also be an expensive undertaking (at least to begin with). However, for many people, the extra effort and expense involved are worth being able to keep their beloved pet while still managing their own allergies.