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You love cats, but every time you get around them you have the sudden urge to claw your eyes out. Sound familiar? You’re not alone. But what’s a pet lover to do? There’s a common misconception hairless cats or dogs will solve the problem, but most people with an allergic reaction aren’t reacting to the hair, but the dander....
Cats, dogs and allergies by Carol Hatcher

You love cats, but every time you get around them you have the sudden urge to claw your eyes out.

Sound familiar?
You’re not alone.
But what’s a pet lover to do?

There’s a common misconception hairless cats or dogs will solve the problem, but most people with an allergic reaction aren’t reacting to the hair, but the dander. Dander is the microscopic pieces of dry skin that naturally flake off as animals’ skin renews. It attaches itself to drapery, clothes, furniture – you name it.

Cats are more problematic than dogs because their saliva also dries, flakes off and enters the air. You could trade your feline for an iguana, but what are your options when you can’t bear to think of life without Fluffy or Rover?

1. Scrub-a-dub-dub, dog and kitty in the tub. The more often your pet is groomed, the better off you’ll be. Washing your dog or cat will rinse away the dreaded dander that causes your allergies. You can even purchase dander-reducing shampoo. Bathe them at least once a week for best results.
2. Choose wisely
Pick a breed that produces a low amount of dander. While all cats and dogs shed their dry skin, some breeds have less dander than others. Small, shorthaired or hairless breeds are a wise choice. Even still, it’s a good idea to brush them as often as possible.

3. Clean house Not only will a clean puppy or kitty help keep down the dander, but a clean home will help as well. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to suck up the allergens and trap them inside the bag. Regularly wash the walls near the pet bed, and allow the allergens to float away by opening the windows while you clean. There is a little extra work involved in order for those with allergies to keep a dog or cat inside. But when you look at those sweet brown eyes or that twitching tail, aren’t they worth it?

Carol Hatcher A former elementary school teacher turned writer. This southern belle lives with her husband and three children in Buford, GA.