A reader who’s allergic to certain animals asks Dr Platzhund if there’s a way around owning pets and not being affected by allergies.
Q: I’m allergic to certain animals, but being the animal lover I am, I can’t bear not having them around me in my home. What can I do about this problem? Are there pets I can keep that I won’t be allergic to?
A: The first thing is to determine which animals you’re allergic to. You’ll need to consult a vet and a dermatologist to assist you in this matter. Once you establish which animal creates the allergy, it needs to be determined whether the pet’s saliva, fur, skin or dandruff is the most aggravating. If you’re only allergic to dog saliva or cat fur, you can easily avoid the severity of your sensitivity by wearing arm-length gloves and prevent being licked. Depending on your symptoms, which may range from itchiness in the mouth and nostrils, excessive sneezing, swollen watery eyes, sinus, congestion, asthma and respiratory difficulty, or even chest pains, you could medicate yourself with the same drugs used for hay fever and asthma under a prescription from your doctor. Certain cat breeds, such as the Cornish rex, devon rex and sphinx, and certain dog breeds, such as poodles, schnauzers, Portuguese water dog, airedale terrier, bouvier, labradoodle, cockerpoo and bedlington terrier are suitable because they do not shed hair or dandruff to produce the allergens for sensitive people. While the best cure for allergies is complete avoidance, you have to determine the exact causes for your reaction and weigh up your options.