pet owners with allergiesPet allergy affect 10% of the population (25% of those suffering with asthma). So, what do you do if you are pet owners with allergies, yet also count yourself as an animal lover wanting to give a pet a home? Or, indeed, if an animal is already part of your family? It is not the fur or hair of the animal itself that is the problem. The allergenic proteins are actually shed in urine and saliva which stick to minute skin flakes - i.e. pet dander. These, in turn, get into the air and stick onto surfaces via the animal's hair (which makes it seem as if hair and fur are actually the problem – they are not, they are just the vehicle for the problem!). Here are nine top tips to help pet owners with allergies and a pet.

1.) Pet owners with allergies should keep the animal outdoors as much as possible – a garden dog, a cat flap, a rabbit in a hutch can all help keep indoor pet allergen levels down.

2.) Be sure to keep bedroom doors closed at all times – a cat on the bed can cause severe problems for someone with asthma.

3.) Short-haired dogs may shed less allergen than long-haired breeds – although a recent research paper did seem to argue against this. Labradoodles and cavapoos  are among the dog breeds said to by hypoallergenic.

4.) Pet owners with allergies should clean your pet, it's blankets and the area where it regularly spends time with products that are designed to naturally destroy pet allergens, like the anti-allergen spray, pet shampoo and laundry detergent in the Pet Lovers Package to keep pet allergen levels down.

5.) Are you sure pet allergen is really the cause of your allergy? It could be that house dust mite, mould or pollen is the real culprit. An allergy specialist will be able to offer an allergy test to pinpoint the true allergen.

6.) Pet allergen sticks to clothes, carpets and furniture so be sure to keep dust levels down by regular damp dusting and using an air purifier to capture pet allergens in the air. Also consider using an allergy vacuum cleaner fitted with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter to remove pet allergen particles.

7.) If you are allergic to animals, be careful if you are moving house. Vendors are obliged to disclose any problems with neighbours when they sell. But they don't have to say whether they are pet owners. Try to find out, because animal allergens can linger for many months after an animal has left the premises.

8.) Although cuddling a pet is part of the fun of ownership, try to avoid this if you are allergic. At the very least, be sure to wash your hands after touching an animal and wash clothes that may have come into contact with pet hair or fur.

9.) If you, or a family member, has allergies and you are considering introducing a pet (but don't yet have one), think very carefully – because for some people the risks unfortunately outweigh the benefits, even if you take all the necessary precautions. There are other ways of expressing your love for animals. For instance, you could adopt an animal through WWF and help protect an animal and its habitat, or sponsor a guide dog. The schemes offer a photo of 'your' pet and regular updates on its welfare.

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