Don’t Sweat the Pet

2-16 Feature_Pet Allergies_web1Simple solutions for living comfortably with allergies and your four-legged family members

There’s no doubt about it, pets enrich our lives in ways too numerous to count—our furry friends are members of the family. So what do you do when someone in the house is allergic
to a beloved family pet? It’s not so easy living with the allergy-inducing dander pets leave in their wake. Luckily, there are dander-defying solutions every member of the family can live with.

Designate pet-free zones. Keep your pet out of the bedroom or areas where an allergy-prone person spends a majority of his or her time. Install HEPA air purifiers in restricted areas or, better yet, throughout the entire house. You can also install specialty air filters into your home’s central system to ensure dander is kept to a minimum.

Alternatively, designate a space in a sunny area of the home just for your pet. Not only will this keep allergens contained, it will also keep the rest of your home allergen free, making the environment more hospitable for everyone involved. Add plants and a HEPA air purifier in the pet’s area for a clean, healthy atmosphere and their overall well-being.

Cover favorite pet spots with removable and washable covers. If you can’t make a separate space for your pet, try something as simple as a washable throw or blanket just for Fido or Fluffy. By covering the areas where they tend to rest for naps or sleep at night, you can more easily mitigate allergy triggers. Use special pillow and mattress coverings to create a barrier to dander in bedrooms. When washing bedding, use laundry detergent formulated to remove allergens. Additionally, regular dusting and vacuuming of your home will help you stay on top of the situation. A more comprehensive solution would be to remove carpeting and replace with wood or tile flooring, which do not trap allergens as readily.

Brush and groom your pet regularly to curb allergen overload. Regular pet brushing won’t completely prevent dander distribution in your home, but will definitely take the edge off. Bathing your pet once a week is another effective way to control dander as well as other allergy-inducing substances your pet’s fur may be harboring—but too much of a good thing could backfire. Use gentle pet shampoos to prevent their skin from drying out and flaking, which could lead to more dander. When brushing and bathing are done together, the results will add up to a more allergy-friendly environment.

Keep allergy medication on hand for emergency situations. Prescription medications as well as over-the-counter allergy medicines can be lifesavers to those having an allergy attack. Make sure to consult your family doctor or allergist to pinpoint the exact cause of your allergies. Afterwards, they can recommend a medicine that’s right for you. And don’t forget that the simple act of hand washing after interactions with your pet can eliminate dander and minimize allergic reactions.

2-16 Feature_Pet Allergies_web2Cat Allergy Cure Just Around the Corner

Cats. For many folks, the mere mention of the word is enough to get their skin crawling. In fact, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology reports that cats are the number one cause of indoor allergies. In the United States alone, approximately 50 million people suffer symptoms from cat allergies. Other than steering clear of cats, the only current treatment available is immunotherapy via allergy shots or SLIT drops. But a new, quick, and seemingly effective treatment for cat allergies is on the horizon.

According to, results from extensive clinical trials among 1,200 patients indicate that a first-ever vaccine for cat allergies, called Cat-SPIRE, might finally put an end to the symptoms allergy sufferers experience. (Cat-SPIRE is produced by Circassia, a company based in the United Kingdom.) Following only four shots of Cat-SPIRE taken a month apart, patients’ allergy symptoms were decreased considerably, with an average reduction of 50 percent. In fact, after two years, the same patients reported that their symptoms had not returned.

The vaccine is currently in the final phase of the clinical trials, and plans are underway to seek FDA approval for release to the general public. Once Cat-SPIRE is given the go-ahead, the product should arrive in doctors’ offices by late 2016.

By Amanda Blair

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