Yes, you can reduce or even eliminate allergies to your family pets, just by following some very simple steps! While it's rare for a human’s pet allergies to be so severe that they can no longer live with that pet, that doesn’t mean pet owners need to suffer. Try these tips to see if they can help you keep your pet!
Note: These are just our personal tips. They are not a substitute for medical advice from your doctor. If you have pet allergies, consult with a medical professional.
Step 1: Reduce allergens in your life.
The more your body has to fight the allergens, the harder it is to win. Do you know everything you might be even slightly allergic to? An allergist can test you for a few dozen allergens, but in the battle against allergies, it may be easier and faster to start by reducing the most common allergens in your life. Pet dander, dust, mold, pollen… they all float in our home’s air and stick to every surface. When you reduce ALL the allergens in your home, you can reduce your allergic reaction to your pet. Here are just some ideas:
- clean your house daily with hypoallergenic unscented cleaning products
- vacuum daily what you cannot mop, such as couches and your mattress
- get a sealed “allergy” vacuum that filters & traps dust/allergens inside
- use pet hair rollers daily (or more often!) on fabric surfaces – we like the sticky washable ones
- replace carpet with hard surface flooring, or keep pets out of carpeted rooms
- if you cannot remove carpet, steam clean monthly (or weekly/biweekly)
- if you must have rugs, replace wool with cotton, & wash using 140 degrees + water weekly
- replace curtains with hard surface window coverings that can be wiped down weekly
- invest in a high-quality HEPA air purifier – starting with one in the bedroom
- cover mattresses and pillows with specially designed allergy covers
- wash blankets weekly on hot using hypoallergenic laundry soap
- wash your clothes and yourself in non-perfumed soap and shampoo
- leave your shoes at the door to avoid tracking allergens inside
- try eliminating or drastically reducing dairy (milk products & eggs) from your diet
- try eliminating other common food allergens from your diet (wheat, soy, peanuts)
- avoid scented body care products (soap, shampoos, lotions, etc)
Step 2: Reduce allergens from your pet
If you are having a reaction to a newly adopted pet, often by simply letting another family member or friend (or paid pet cleaner) handle that pet and cleaning as much as possible for you, while you slowly over a few weeks get used to that new pet, can allow your allergies to adjust and subside over time. Here are some other tips to try to help as well:
- wash your hands immediately after handling your new pet
- brush your pet daily – dogs outside your home, cats in a bathroom with a closed door, surfaces wiped off afterward (ideally done by a non-allergic family member)
- after brushing, using a towel dampened with water, wipe off their fur, then wash the towel
- bathe dogs weekly – use a gentle moisturizing unscented pet shampoo, or alternate one week with just a conditioner like one especially for reducing pet allergens
- once a week, wipe down your pet using a pet allergen-reducing liquid for Cats or Dogs available in pet supply stores or online
- use a damp towel to wipe down pets before they come inside, to wipe off outside allergens
- clean litter boxes daily and wash out completely weekly
- use unscented low-dust cat litter
- wash pet beds weekly in unscented laundry soap & hot water
- wash your pet’s toys weekly
- feed your pets premium food (helps keep skin healthy)
- ask your vet about specialty food specifically designed to reduce pet allergens
- if your pet has dry or flaking skin, with your vet’s approval, feed a skin & coat supplement
- keep pets out of your bedroom or at least off the bed
Then, slowly, one by one… You may need to start out using ALL the tips above to reduce your allergies enough to be comfortable. But then, try not using one, for a few weeks, and see how you do! For example, let’s say you’d prefer to have your pets sleep in your bedroom. However, at first, you may do best with no pets in your bedroom, keeping the door closed. Then in a few weeks (or months), try the door open with a baby gate or screen keeping pets out. Then allowed them in the room but not while you are in there sleeping. Then try your pets sleeping on the floor… and then if you want, a pet on the bed! If at any point your allergies become uncomfortable, take one step back.
Get more help from our pet allergy articles here.