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Allergies Health Center

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Nothing to Sneeze At

WebMD Feature from "Country Living" Magazine

By Julia Szabo

Country Living Magazine

If someone you love is allergic to your pet, there are simple solutions to help everyone live happily ever after.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, studies show that 15 percent of the population is allergic to dander, the microscopic proteins secreted by an animal's skin that linger in its fur and float in the air. And yet, the bond between pets and people is so strong that an estimated two million cat-allergic people live with at least one cat anyway!

There are simple ways to live with pets and ease the discomfort felt by pet-allergic family members. In dry air, pets' skin will shed more dander, so keep the air moist with a humidifier. Clean your home often with a powerful vacuum cleaner to eliminate dust (which traps allergens), and invest in a HEPA air filter to minimize airborne allergens. Eliminate wall-to-wall carpeting and area rugs, which are tough to keep clean; opt instead for bare wood, tile, or vinyl floors, and swab them regularly. For areas where floorcovering is a must, install attractive modular carpet tiles by Flor (, which are removable and easily washed. Windows are magnets for indoor and outdoor allergens. Consider replacing fabric draperies with RediShades (, pleated-paper shades that are simple to install (peel and stick) and so inexpensive — about $8 — that they can be tossed when dirty. Be strict about banning pets from the allergy sufferer's bedroom — keep the door closed at all times — and peel off clothing before entering the bedroom, so allergens aren't tracked in. (While you're at it, eliminate feather pillows, which aggravate allergies, and replace them with fiberfill ones.) Finally, switch to a dust-free brand of litter such as Green Tea Leaves ( and be sure the allergic person avoids contact with the litter box, which should be stationed far from the bedroom.

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