Many children are allergic to the proteins found in pet skin, hair, saliva and urine. Pet hair also becomes a carrier for pollen, mould spores and other outdoor allergens that can aggravate allergic reactions in some children.
There is a strong genetic correlation in pet allergies, which means that if you have pet allergies most likely your child will too. Symptoms of pet allergies in children include runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes and in some cases rashes or asthma. However, these symptoms are similar to allergic reactions to other common household allergens such as mould and dust mites.
If your child has expressed a desire to keep a pet, it may be difficult for you to convince him / her otherwise. The first thing you need to do is to visit an allergist to determine the main source of allergies. The allergist will review your child’s medical history and do a complete physical examination. A skin or blood test will be done to determine the presence of certain antibodies in your child’s body to fight specific allergens.
If a specific pet allergen is determined to be the main culprit of your child’s allergies, then you need to minimize your child’s contact with anything that acts as a trigger. This means keeping certain types of pets out of your home and avoiding contact with animals owned by others.
If the pet-allergy symptoms in your child are mild, you may decide to get a pet. Watch this video for information on potential pets for children with allergies.
Apart from choosing the right pet for your child, you can take several precautions at home to keep your child’s allergic reactions under control:
- Keep pets out of the bedroom and do not allow them to sit on the furniture
- Use a high-efficiency HEPA air cleaner to vacuum your home.
- Use an air purifier to rid the home environment of animal dander and airborne pollutants
- Minimize the presence of cloth curtains, blinds and carpeted floors, as these tend to attract dust and dander.
- Bathe your pet weekly. Check with your vet on good pet care directions.
- Ensure that your child washes their hands after touching the pet or pet’s items.
These simple steps will ensure that your child stays healthy whilst enjoying a loving relationship with their pet.