By Lucy Hine
Nothing beats the feeling of coming home and being greeted by an excited pet. Instantly a lousy day at work can be transformed into an enjoyable evening.
However, this is a pleasure unknown to some asthma and allergy suffers. Symptoms such as sneezing, itchy, red and watery eyes, rashes and wheezy breathing prevents them from experiencing the joys of owning a pet.
Most people who have an allergic reaction to cats and dogs are allergic to the dander the dead skin cells that cats and dogs shed, and not the fur, as commonly thought.
The protein in animal saliva is another common allergy cause, particularly with cats as they frequently groom themselves with their tongue. Over-excited dogs are also problematic, as they lick the hands and face of their owners and house guests.
Some people may find they have an initial reaction to a new cat or dog they've come into contact with, and the reaction diminishes with frequent contact and exposure.
Visit your local GP or allergy specialist for a test to pin-point exactly what triggers your allergic reaction. Periodic injections can give you some immunity.
However, if you're an asthma or allergy sufferer who can't bear to part with Biggles or Molly, there are ways to avoid the swollen red-eyed monster.
Try selecting the right breed. Poodles, Bichon Frise and Bedlington Terriers have a wool-like coat which they don't shed. Make sure you research the characteristics of these dog breeds before you make a decision, as some require regular grooming and lots of attention which may not suit your lifestyle.
If you're a cat-lover, consider a Cornish Rex or Devon Rex, as they also have a non-shedding coat which will stop you reaching for the tissue box. Make sure this breed fits in with your lifestyle, as they require frequent grooming.
There are other simple ways you can minimize the allergic reaction to your pet. It's as simple as keeping them out of the bedroom and off the furniture, cleaning and vacuuming the house often and making sure you groom and bathe your pet regularly. And as always, make sure you wash your hands with soap after contact with an animal.
For more information, visit www.petnet.com.au
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