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» Tuesday, December 02, 2008Ah, Allergies...
Allergic and Wheezing, But Still Keeping Pets
This is the same thing Dr. Freedman told my mom so long ago: there is no such thing as a "hypoallergenic" pet. You are not allergic to the dog's hair; you are allergic to the dog's dander. It doesn't matter if it has curly hair or no hair or is only single-coated.
However, medications have changed. Perhaps if we'd had non-drowsy allergy medications like Claritin, I could have had a dog as a kid. But it just wasn't around then, and the stuff I did have to take knocked me flat.
There are also certain precautions you can take. Never touch your face and eyes after petting a dog or cat; always wash your hands instead. (People always looked at me funny when, even at the age of eight, I would go straight to the bathroom to wash my hands if I petted a dog or cat. It was the price I had to pay for any contact at all.) No hugging the dog or letting him lick you. If the cat (or the dog) sleeps in your lap, you have to change clothes and make sure the "pet saturated" clothing is washed before you wear it again. I can't hug James after Willow has sat with him in his chair, because he's been "dogged." :-)
Claritin (and previously Allegra and Seldane) have made things so much easier. I remember when I used to visit my best friend on Saturday nights when she was home from college on the weekend. She had a dog and two cats. I would get home, wait on the enclosed but unheated back porch (even in the dead of winter when it was in the 20s outside) and knock on the back door. Mom would bring me a change of clothes and I would change out there on the dark of the porch. The clothes would stay on the porch all night to air out then they would be washed. Once I had my clothes on I would go directly to the bathroom and wash my hands, arms, and face again, and I would take my allergy pill before bed (because if I took it then I would conk out asleep within a half hour).
Sometimes I still had an allergy attack the next day, but it was the price I paid for visiting with Mitzi, Twiggy and Zipper.