Ask the Vet with Daniel A. Lange, DVM

Elm Point Animal Hospital, St. Charles

QuestionI’ve had cats all my life without issues. That is, until I brought home Sammy. Suddenly, I’m sneezing and my eyes itch. I have had some relief with over-the-counter allergy medicines, but the symptoms always return. Can a 54-year-old woman develop an allergy? What are my options (giving up Sammy not being one of them)?

AnswerIt is possible that you developed an allergy over time. Go to an allergist to determine your exact allergy. One study found that two-thirds of people thought allergic to cats and dogs were actually allergic to dust, mold, and/or ragweed. If it is a cat allergy, most experts feel it is due to proteins found in saliva and dander. However, there are some things you can do. Keep Sammy out of your bedroom. Blankets and bedding provide a great source of dander. Don’t let your cat lie on your clothing or personal belongings. Provide your cat with her own bedding and launder once weekly. Bathe your cat once weekly with mild soap and warm water. Comb Sammy regularly to reduce the amount of allergens (you may want to have a nonallergic person do this.) Put your cat on a fatty acid nutritional supplement and apply a commercial product like Allerpet, which decreases the allergens. After petting, wash your hands. Carpets and some fabrics hold more allergens, so you may want to replace carpets with wood, linoleum, or rugs you can regularly wash. Keep floor surfaces damp-mopped, and when you vacuum, use special filter replacement bags that trap particles. Use an air purifier and change filters as directed. Finally, medications and allergy shots can help alleviate your side effects and symptoms.

About the Vet:

Dr. Lange practices small animal medicine and surgery since 1981, primarily dog, cat and pocket pets. He and his partner have been at Elm Point Animal Hospital since September, 2008. In addition to veterinary medicine services, they offer boarding and grooming.

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