Pet allergies can cause a lot of unpleasant symptoms:

  • Itchy, red, watery eyes
  • Itchy throat or roof of mouth
  • Nasal congestion
  • Cough or trouble breathing
  • Post-nasal drip
  • Skin reactions such as eczema, allergic dermatitis or hives
  • Wheezing or asthma
  • Swollen skin under the eyes

If you have pet allergies, it’s therefore best if pets aren’t in the home, says Karen Petcoff, of the Ontario Lung Association. But what if you’re moving in with a partner whose pets are considered extended family, or you can’t bear to part with your new puppy? You can take steps to reduce the amount of dander and hair you breathe in, which is critical for keeping your symptoms under control.

If you have a pet you are allergic to and cannot find it a new, loving home, the following steps may help:

  • Vacuum your home often, preferably with a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Remove carpeting if possible.
  • Choose leather- versus fabric-covered furniture, as it’s easier to clean.
  • Bathe your pet regularly.
  • Keep the pet out of bedrooms and off furniture.
  • Limit your time with the pet.
  • Neuter male pets to curb the release of pheromones, sex chemicals released by the animal that can aggravate allergies.
  • Use effective air filters to help reduce the volume of airborne allergens.