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Tips For Pet Lovers With Asthma

12 ways to avoid asthma while loving your pet

Pet lovers with asthma who have reactions to their pets could improve their condition immediately if they simply found another home for their animals. But many people can't or won't put themselves or their pets through with this so they make the decision to keep the pet and deal with the asthma. But there are several steps that can make living with pet easier for asthma patients.

First of all, remember that a shorthaired pet can trigger asthma as just as easily as a longhaired one. The problem isn't the hair - the animal's saliva, sweat, urine and dander (flakes of dead skin) can all act as powerful allergens. Petting, grooming or simply vacuuming can stir the allergen into the air leaving it to float through the air for hours on end.

Here are 12 things you can try if you prefer to keep your pet:

  1. Decide which rooms in your house to designate as exclusion zones. I recommend that you never allow your pet into at least two rooms, the bedroom and lounge. You may want to add other rooms to the list.

    If your pet once slept in those rooms, wash as much of the bedding or upholstery as possible and consider buying a new mattress and duvet. Keep the animal's bed in another room, perhaps a utility room or lobby. For a cat, sprinkle some catnip there to make the area seem more attractive.
  2. Make sure that anyone who handles your pet washes their hands well before touching a person with asthma or entering the pet-free rooms.
  3. Keep the animal outdoors as much as you can. You can build or buy a shelter for it and make it as warm and comfortable as you can. And be sure to feed it there occasionally so that it feels at home.
  4. If you prefer to allow your pet to come into your home, consider replacing all surfaces that are friendly to allergens. Your furniture should be made of wood or be covered with leather or vinyl. Instead of carpets, cover your floors with vinyl flooring or linoleum or use cork tiles. Another effective option is to simply polish the floorboards!
  5. Air the house out on a regular basis and keep some windows open when the pet or allergic person is in the house. A HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrester) air filter will purify the air throughout your home, but it will only remove allergens from the air, not those on furniture or carpets.
  6. If your home uses a forced-air heating system, close off the air ducts and opt for portable room heaters instead in order to prevent allergens entering the pet-free rooms.
  7. Refrain from using fans or fan-equipped heaters because they will blow any allergens that settle on your floors and furniture up into the air. Research suggests that some pet allergens can remain in the air up to six hours once they are disturbed.
  8. When cleaning your home, use an anti-allergy vacuum cleaner that filters and traps the allergens. If you need to buy a vacuum, be sure to verify that it will filter out the allergens.
  9. Wash dogs often with shampoo and lukewarm water. If possible, try to get a non-asthmatic person to do this task for you. Cat owners can gently wipe their fur with a damp cloth or give them a shower. Unfortunately, while these methods will remove much of the allergens from a cat they won't remove all of them.

    Research has shown that totally immersing your cat in water will remove most allergens, but be aware that your cat won't like it at all!
  10. Get someone who doesn't have asthma to brush your pet outside the home on a regular basis.
  11. Clean out all litter boxes and pet cages outdoors. Even better, get a non-asthmatic person to do it for you!
  12. Male cats produce the most allergen, but the amount declines after neutering. Cats can vary greatly in the amount of allergen they produce. If you have more than one of them, keep each one in the house for a time to determine which of them is the least allergenic.

If you have severe asthma that is triggered by pet allergens, the best advice is to simply find a new home for your animals. But if your asthma is fairly mild and you just cannot bear to part with your pet, some of the measures listed above might help you avoid asthma while loving your pet.

About the Author:

David Kane is the author of "101 Top Tips for Asthma Relief".

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