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How Pets and Allergies Can Go Hand in Paw

Understanding pet allergies so you can your have your pet and live with it, too.

Managing Your Pet

All the doctors recommended bathing pets frequently, which in the case of cats can be very entertaining. "Even a damp washcloth on the fur can help," Mitchell says (towelettes are also available at pet stores for this purpose).

Keeping the animal's skin healthy with vitamin supplements can limit shedding of dander.

"I have had people saying they would shave their pet," Georgeson says. "That might be helpful, but you will still get dander."

Counter to what you might think, the amount of dander an allergic person breathes does not make the symptoms worse or better. "Dose has no relevance," Johnson says. "Small animal, big animal, long fur, short fur, it doesn't make a difference."

So much for the new designer dogs, such as labradoodles, although some people swear they cut symptoms. One prominent vet has also advanced the theory that female animals cause fewer allergies. This is open to debate.

Last Resorts

"Our second approach," Georgeson says, "is to medicate the patient with topical or inhaled corticosteroids, especially if he or she is asthmatic."

The third? "If all this fails, then there are shots," Georgeson says. Often these must be given every week.

Mitchell, therefore, is enthusiastic about liquid drops absorbed in the mouth that are being developed in Europe, although they are not approved for use here. He says he is confident these will soon be on the scene. "They are pretty exciting," he says.

"There is not a lot of peer-reviewed literature on the drops," Georgeson observes. "The shots can change an allergic person to a nonallergic person."

"Shots," Johnson says, "are the mainstay."

1 Doctor's Story

"I am a cat and dog owner," Georgeson says. "I practice what I preach -- the wood floors, the cleaning.

"My husband and I are not allergic, but many of our family members are, and when they come here they have no symptoms. This stuff works."

Reviewed on March 20, 2008

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