What to Do if Your Friend Is Allergic to Your Pet

woman with cat allergies

woman with cat allergies

Here’s a conundrum: You’ve been planning to have your new friend over for a  game night for weeks, and just found out that he is allergic to your pet. Do you have to call off the gathering? Unless your friend’s allergies are quite severe, most likely, your home does not have to become entirely off-limits. With a bit of advance preparation, you can help your friend ward off sniffles, watery eyes, and other symptoms, so that you can both focus on games, conversation, and fun.

RELATED STORY: How to Live With Cat Allergies … And Your Cat!

Try an OTC Solution

Remind your friend that Fido or Fluffy is one of your favorite roommates before this visit. This way, he can take an over-the-counter medication, such as Zyrtec, Benadryl, or Claritin, before coming over. It’s a great idea to keep some of these over-the-counter solutions available in your home, in case folks forget to dose in advance. But remind friends, family, and allergy sufferers that when it comes to allergy medications, taking them before exposure to the allergen is best.

Use Your HEPA

If you have a HEPA air purifier, let it run before your visitors arrive, and continue to keep it on while they are at your home as well. Vacuum your home thoroughly, preferably with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter. Using a HEPA air purifier will help to remove dander from the air within your home.

Go Dander-Free

Speaking of dander: When it comes to pet allergies, it’s the dander that’s the causes the biggest problem. Pet dander is made up of the tiny flakes of skin that your cat or dog sheds. According to the American Lung Association, the allergens from dander remain in the air even longer than other common allergy-triggers, such as dust mites. The more dander you can remove from your home, the better experience your allergic guests will have.

As mentioned above, using a HEPA air filter can be helpful. You’ll also want to vacuum thoroughly, and if possible, wash cushions and other fabric around the home — focus on tackling items that your pet is in frequent contact with, and that your guest is also likely to touch. For instance, if your cat tends to perch on a cushion on your couch, think about washing the cushion’s cover or maybe just removing it from the living room.

RELATED STORY: What You Should Know About Pet Dander

Bathe Your Pet

Before your friend comes over, it could be a good idea to give your cat or dog a bath. This helps with the dander problem. Give your pet a thorough brushing as well.

RELATED STORY: How to Wash Your Cat

Avoid Contact

If it’s possible, keep your pet in a separate room or area of your home. Of course, a visit from your friend shouldn’t feel like a punishment for your cat or dog, so make sure that wherever they’re kept, your pet is comfortable. Finally, your friend probably already knows, but remind your buddy not to cuddle or hug your cat or dog. Affection and contact increase the chances of allergies starting.

Of course, as much as you scrub and aim to remove your pet’s dander, you can’t make your friend allergy-free. It’s possible that even with all of these strategies, your friend may still experience some symptoms — hopefully, your pal will be spared a full-blown attack, and you’ll both be able to enjoy your time together.

Tell us how you handle guests with pet allergies in the comments. And, if you’re looking for a discount on pet shampoo and other commonly used pet-care supplies, consider being a part of PetPlus, a new benefit program for pet owners that provides member-only access to medications at wholesale prices, plus discounts on food, supplies, vet visits, boarding and more. 

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