Reducing Pet Allergy Fears When A Baby Is On The Way

New parents have a lot to worry about and the health of their child is always the top priority. Parents that had allergies as a child may be concerned about their own little ones experiencing the same discomfort they once did. Pet allergies are a common concern because so many homes have cats and dogs as an important member of their family unit. At one time it was accepted that homes with allergy sensitive children would not have pets. If animals were in the home when the problems started, they were surrendered to a shelter or given away. This caused a lot of misery for the people in the home who loved the pet, as well as for the animal that suddenly lost its home. Multiple research studies have now shown that this may not be the best method. Not only is it possible to have allergies and coexist comfortably with pets, but having the pet in the house may actually benefit the child in the future.  

Passing Down Allergies

Often the people most concerned about their children having pet allergies are those that experienced it themselves. Many feel guilty about the loss of a beloved pet due to their own inability to be around them and do not want their kids to experience that pain. The concern is genuine because people with allergies are at a higher risk of having children who suffer from them. Most specifically, studies have shown that gender plays a role in men passing down allergies to their sons and mothers and daughters sharing the same reactions. Instead of seeing this as a negative sign, parents should consider it a convenient early warning that allows them to prepare their home and educate themselves about reducing allergy risks.

Building Some Resistance

Regardless of their family history, children exposed to pets during the first year of their life have a lower risk of developing allergies and asthma problems. The research has revealed that the exposure to these allergens helps to develop the immune response in the children. Pet-free couples awaiting their first child may want to consider adopting a cat or dog prior to the child's birth, rather than waiting until they are older to introduce an animal to the home.  

Controlling the Environment

Pet fur is not the concern when it comes to allergies. It is the dander and saliva that are the two main culprits in allergic reactions. Purchasing animals, like poodles, that are non-shedding will not eliminate the risk of a reaction. Instead, it is important to control the actual triggers. Avoid dog breeds that are known to drool a lot and be aware of pet breeds known to have chronic problems with dry skin. Feed the pets the best food possible to avoid skin issues, have them groomed regularly to wash away dander and keep all toys and bedding clean. Vacuum at least once a week with a vacuum with a HEPA filter and remember to vacuum sofas and chairs at the same time. Pets should not be allowed to sleep with the children or spend time in their bedrooms. 

Helping the Child

Despite all best efforts, the child may still develop allergies. Parents should always have their child allergy tested before making any drastic changes because the allergy could be environmental or food-related. For example, even if the sneezing or stuffiness begins when the pet is in the room the trigger could be pollen on the pet rather than their dander. When the allergy is identified, basic allergy medication offers immediate relief while the allergy shots help them to build a resistance. Natural supplements are often helpful in controlling allergy symptoms, but should be discussed with the allergist first to make certain they will not interact with other medication. 

No parent should make their children suffer needlessly in order to keep a pet, but life-threatening allergies to pets are rare. In most cases, the parents can create an environment for their child that is safe and comfortable and includes pets. Discuss any reaction with their pediatrician as soon as possible and visit an allergist (such as one from if the issue becomes a consistent problem.