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Treating Your Pet Can Help Reduce Your Allergies

By Dr. Shawn Messonnier, DVM
Updated: 2009-05-15 5:42 PM 2403 Views    Category: - General Pet Care
 
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Most people who suffer from allergies are allergic to a number of foreign proteins (allergens.) These allergens exist in the environment, and often are worse during different seasons of the year. Unfortunately, many people are also allergic to their own pets. Having a pet in a household can actually exacerbate a person's allergies. Rather than simply get rid of the pet as is often recommended by the family doctor, there are several natural approaches you can take that will reduce your allergies to your pet.
 
There are two reasons why having a pet in the house can make a person's allergies worse. The first is simply that the person may be allergic to the pet. While the pet’s dander (dead skin cells) and hair can act as allergens, the pet’s saliva can also be highly allergenic. This is especially true if the person shares a house with one or more cats. Because cats constantly groom themselves, they are always transferring their saliva to their skin and hair. Therefore, people are more likely to be allergic to their cats than their dogs.
 
A second reason why having a pet can worsen your allergies deals with the physical nature of the pet’s hair and skin. Your pet’s hair acts like a sponge, trapping dirt, bacteria, fungi, dander, house dust mites, pet saliva, bug droppings (especially roach droppings,) molds, and tree and grass pollens. These allergens stay on your pet's skin and hair until they are washed away. The longer they stay on your pet’s skin and hair, the more likely they are to cause your pet to itch. And if you or any family members suffer from allergies or asthma, your pet’s skin and hair serve as an important source of your discomfort until these allergens are washed away.
 
Knowing how a pet can serve as a constant source of allergens, there are several steps you can take to make your pet less allergenic to you.
 
First, because your pet’s hair acts like a sponge transferring allergens from the environment to you and your family members, bathing your pet frequently is necessary to keep your family healthy. How often should you bathe your pet? In general, I recommend bathing your pet two to three times per week with a quality certified organic shampoo that is designed for frequent bathing (many shampoos are not designed for frequent bathing and contain harsh chemicals and additives that can actually dry out your pets hair and skin, which will worsen the problem.) While it's not easy for every owner, especially cat owners, to bathe this often, frequent bathing of the family pets is critical for people who suffer from severe allergies.
 
Second, many integrative veterinarians have had success administering homeopathic acepromazine to the pet. Acepromazine is commonly used as a tranquilizer in veterinary practice. When used as a homeopathic dilution given to the pet each day, many pet owners find that the pet is less allergenic to them. Using these two natural approaches can help reduce allergies in many people, and can often mean the difference between keeping the family pet or having to find it a new home.
 

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Dr. Messonnier, a 1987 graduate of Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, opened Paws & Claws Animal Hospital in 1991. His special interests include exotic pets, dermatology, and animal behavior. Dr. Messonnier is a well-known speaker and author. In addition to serving clients, he is a regular contributor to several veterinary journals, sits on the advisory board of the journal Veterinary Forum and regularly consults with veterinarians across the country and is a holistic pet columnist for Animal Wellness, Body + Soul, and Veterinary Forum. More info can be found at http://www.petcarenaturally.com.
 
 
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