How to Live With an Allergy to Animal Hair

Two Methods:Reduce Allergens in Your HomeReduce Allergens at the Source

Contrary to what many people believe, pet allergies are not usually caused by animal hair. Allergic reactions are typically a response to the dead skin, also known as dander, and the saliva of animals. Some people may be allergic to only one particular pet, while others may have reactions to several pets or all animals. If your animal allergies are severe, you may not be able to live with a pet in your home. However if you discover you have an allergic reaction to an animal after it is already living in your home, or if you just can't resist having a pet, there are some things you can try before deciding your home must be pet free.

Method 1
Reduce Allergens in Your Home

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    Remove as many soft surfaces in your home as possible. Animal hair, dander, and other allergens gather and hide on soft surfaces and are more difficult to remove.
    • Replace carpets with hard surface flooring such as wood, tile and linoleum where possible. Vacuum carpets at least once a day and steam clean them every other week if you cannot remove them, or keep your pets out of all carpeted rooms.
    • Use throw rugs instead of carpet. Wool is the best choice for allergy sufferers.
    • Limit your use of curtains and other window dressings. Cover windows with hard surface blinds or shutters instead.
    • Cover soft-surface furniture with machine-washable covers, and mattresses and pillows with specially designed allergy covers. This is especially important for any furniture you allow your pet on.
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    Surface clean all rooms of your home that your pet uses daily. If your allergies are extreme, this cleaning may need be done by someone else.
    • Vacuum all soft surfaces including rugs, furniture, throw pillows, drapes, etc. You may want to purchase a sealed filter allergy vacuum that filters and traps dust, dander and allergens.
    • Use pet hair removal rollers in between vacuuming to keep surfaces hair-free. Both the disposable and the sticky washable type are available in many department and pet supply stores.
    • Sweep or vacuum all hard surface floors, then wash with hot water and appropriate cleaners.
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    Wash throw rugs, curtains, furniture covers and other washable soft surfaces once a week. Follow manufacturer washing instructions and use water as hot as the material can withstand.
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    Limit your pet's access to your bedroom and other rooms in your house that you spend a lot of time in to decrease your exposure to the allergen. Keep your pets out of your bed.

Method 2
Reduce Allergens at the Source

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    Groom your pet daily. Again, if your allergies make this difficult, this job is best done by someone else.
    • Take your dog outside in good weather or into the bathroom. Cats should be groomed in the bathroom. Close the door securely behind you.
    • Brush your pet thoroughly, including under the belly and chest, around the neck and face, and under the tail and back of legs. Remove the hair from the brush regularly and put it into a closed plastic bag.
    • Use a towel lightly dampened with water to wipe down the animal's fur after you are done brushing her.
    • Close the plastic bag with the hair in it securely and dispose of it, then wipe down all of the surfaces in the bathroom.
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    Bathe your dog every week or two using a gentle moisturizing shampoo or ask your veterinarian for a shampoo recommendation.
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    Wipe down your pet with a pet allergen reducing product, following package instructions. These products can be found sold under various names in pet supply stores in liquid form.
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    Change your cat's litter boxes daily and wash the boxes thoroughly once a week.
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    Wash all pet bedding in hot water weekly.
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    Feed your pets high quality nutritional food to keep them and their skin and coat healthy. If your pet has dry or flaking skin, ask your vet's advice on a special food or nutritional supplement.


  • Wash your hands with hot water and soap frequently--always after cleaning up after and interacting with your pet, and also before touching your face or food. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning.
  • Over-the-county allergy treatments may be helpful during extreme outbreaks but should not be taken for an extended period of time except under a doctor's supervision. See your doctor for allergy treatment if your attempts at controlling your allergies on your own have failed.
  • Or, you could get a hairless cat (if you are allergic to the hair) called a "Sphynx" They are pretty ugly at first, but if you are a true animal lover, then you will soon come to see that they are pretty cute!
  • If you know you have animal allergies before getting a pet, go and meet several animals in person to see how your allergies respond. It may be possible to choose a pet that does not trigger an allergic reaction. If you have exhausted your attempts at finding a pet you are not allergic to, choose the one that brings on the mildest response.


  • People who are prone to environmental allergens have an increased risk of developing pet allergies at any age in life, even if they were never allergic to animals in the past.
  • It is possible that you may have an allergic reaction to a new pet, but that over time your body adapts to the allergen and the symptoms subside. If possible, have someone else take over the care and cleaning of the pet while you adjust to its presence in your home before you decide that you can't keep your new friend.
  • Eliminate the possibility that you may be having an allergic reaction to a product that you are using on the pet or a pet food you are handling. Change the shampoo, flea treatment, food and other products one at a time so you can see which one, if any, brings about a change in your allergy symptoms. Consider allergy testing to be sure that your pet is the cause of your allergies.

Article Info

Categories: Allergies and Immunization