How to Reduce Pet Allergens at Home

My Child is Allergic to the Family Pets

Pets have always been part of our family, during childhood and into adulthood. My husband and I waited six years into our marriage to have children, but we had a dog and two cats. Our son was born and we were cautious with our pets being around him, being he was the newest addition to our family. They all welcomed the little boy with curiosity, love and affection from the get-go. Little did we know his body would not acclimate to being around the furry kids as I had hoped.

Allergies & Asthma

My son developed asthma at age three and our pediatrician recommended him to be tested for allergies. He tested positive for allergies to cats, dogs, and beech trees. I was crushed. My son was worried he could never go to the beach because that’s where he thought beech trees grew.

The allergy specialist recommended removing the pets from our home for my son’s comfort. Looking into the expression on my face, he acknowledged that would be a difficult option. He then prescribed five medications to help my son cope with being in the home with the animals. That crushed me as well.

My husband and I decided after failing to find homes for the cats through close friends and family to try and manage our son’s comfort with SOME medication. If he got to the point of needing all five, we would take the pets to a shelter and put them up for adoption.

What We Learned

Here is a summary of what has been learned in the years we have been dealing with children, pets, and allergies.

We relied on three medications for the most of two years: Singulair, Xopenex, and allergy medicine. Occasionally Pulmicort was needed for asthma outbreaks three or four times per year. Zyrtec was recommended for allergy symptoms but it made my son very tired and irritable. We tried over-the-counter allergy medicine with mixed results.

Finally, Claritin worked the best for keeping allergy symptoms at bay without making my son drowsy. After reading several articles about Singulair, it was decided our son would not be taking that medication. He was weaned off of it, and had no side effects or returning symptoms.

Lesson learned: just because five medicines were prescribed didn’t mean we as parents had to administer them to our child. We found a good combination of some of them that worked.

  • In our home, I wiped down all of the walls to wipe away dander. I repeat this process at least twice per year in the entire house, doing his bedroom more frequently. One tip for you is to buy a HEPA vacuum because it is good at eliminating allergens and┬ápets’ fur is no exception.┬áMine has been bought for a long time. You can see the top 10 here to refer.
  • We keep my son’s bedroom door shut to keep dander to a minimum. We tried the vent covers that allow air circulation but trap dander. The air flow was poor so we don’t use those any longer.
  • Washing his clothes, bed comforter, and curtains from his room in warm or hot water clean his belongings better.
  • Air purifiers have a vast range of prices and capabilities. Time put into researching them is worth it. The one purchased is located in the main living area of our house and works wonderfully.
  • Purchasing high performing furnace filters with a MERV rating of 10+ makes an enormous difference in the house. They are a bit higher in cost, but are a worthy investment for cleaner air and need replacing every three to four months instead of monthly.
  • The pets are not allowed in my son’s room and are it understood by everyone in the family.
  • After three years of coping with allergies and medications, my son is ONLY taking Claritin. Two to three times per year if he gets sick from a virus or bacteria, his asthma returns and he needs breathing treatments. He seems to be “growing out of it.”

Overall, there has been a lot of “trying this or that” to accommodate my son’s allergies without having him consuming too many chemicals, all the while he has been caring for and loving all three pets that are still with our family. Finding what worked best for my son was difficult but all worthwhile for the rewards.