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Thread: How do you keep pet dander to a minimum for allergic people?

  1. #1
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    How do you keep pet dander to a minimum for allergic people?

    DD was home from college this weekend for the first time in 5 weeks.

    She is allergic to dogs. We have cats. Our cats are 12 and 8 and DD is 17 so she's lived with them for almost all her life. Now all of a sudden she comes home and is allergic to them. She woke up each morning totally stuffed up, sneezing, sniffing, etc that is miraculously cured 5 minutes after she leaves the house.

    She didn't spend enough time in the house other than sleeping to really know how this will affect her just being in the house, but she couldn't even sleep the second night - she was up by 4 am because she couldn't breathe.

    She is also coming home this weekend. I don't have time to rent a carpet washer, but I have washed all her bed linens and the curtains. I will be at least vacuuming really well in her room.

    Is there anything else I can do to minimize the dander in her room? Her door is now permanently closed and off limits to the cats. I will also confine the cats to the basement when she's home.

    It boggles my mind that she could live with these cats for 12 years and not be bothered.

    Any ideas would be appreciated!!
    The term "working mother" is redundant.

  2. #2
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    I bathe my cat once a month or so. But she loves her baths so it's easy.

    If kitty has an aversion to water there are those pre-moistened bathing towels and dry shampoos. I don't know how well they work though.

    Regular brushing will help too.
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  3. #3
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    my MIL has tried seemingly everything to make her house more allergy-friendly for me. They keep the cats out of the room we stay in, she makes sure that the cleaning lady is there right before we arrive, etc. None of it seems to make a difference. I just make sure to take zyrtec every day while I'm there and I'm fine.
    <)>>< Candace ><<)>

  4. #4
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    Gracie - that's terrible! It doesn't all add up though, like you said, she's never had a problem before, and it was serious enough to keep her from sleeping.

    Any specific reason why you think it's the cats and not something else? - have you switch detergents, fabric softeners, etc - since she last lived there? Is there any type of fragrance you've started using in your house - candles, plug in air fresheners, etc?

    If it is the cats, maybe a product like this....

    http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...m?pcatid=13570

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gracie View Post

    It boggles my mind that she could live with these cats for 12 years and not be bothered.
    I found out I was allergic to my dog after I moved out for a few months and then moved back in. My system was used to it, so it didn't affect me until I'd been away for awhile.

    My suggestion would be to open up the house as much as possible. I'm severly allergic to cats- I can't even walk into someone's home who has cats and not be affected. My sinuses instantly swell up, my lungs close up, and I start sneezing. Fresh air is always helpful- if there is a window in the bedroom, open it up as much as possible to get the dander out.
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  6. #6
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    Try to vacuum a few days in advance but NOT the day of or just before she comes home. I have a friend who is very allergic to cats and I have a few. We found that if I vacuumed within 24 hours of her visit she was much more uncomfortable than if it had been a few days before. Seems like it shouldn't work that way, but vacuuming stirs up the dander and leaves it in the air for a while, so it's better to do it way before so it has some time to settle. She also takes Zyrtec before she gets here and it also helps a lot.

    There are also some sprays that you can spray in her room and on her linens that's meant to reduce allergens from dander. I've seen it in (big box) pet stores but don't remember off-hand the name; perhaps someone here does.

    It boggles my mind that she could live with these cats for 12 years and not be bothered.
    We have a couple of friends that grew up with dogs, then left home for college and had the same problem when they came home. Your body can "get used" to an allergen you're exposed to all the time; when you take away the daily exposure, the reaction builds up again. Drs are using this phenomenom to deal with peanut allergies now!
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by syzygy View Post
    There are also some sprays that you can spray in her room and on her linens that's meant to reduce allergens from dander. I've seen it in (big box) pet stores but don't remember off-hand the name; perhaps someone here does.
    http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...m?pcatid=13570

    That?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shugness View Post
    Any specific reason why you think it's the cats and not something else? - have you switch detergents, fabric softeners, etc - since she last lived there? Is there any type of fragrance you've started using in your house - candles, plug in air fresheners, etc?

    If it is the cats, maybe a product like this....

    http://www.drsfostersmith.com/produc...m?pcatid=13570
    I haven't changed any of those things - it's definitely the cats. I will look for that spray - anything to help!

    Quote Originally Posted by mrswaz View Post
    I found out I was allergic to my dog after I moved out for a few months and then moved back in. My system was used to it, so it didn't affect me until I'd been away for awhile.


    Fresh air is always helpful- if there is a window in the bedroom, open it up as much as possible to get the dander out.
    So it's not that unusual. Wow. I was really blown away. I am definitely opening the windows.

    Quote Originally Posted by syzygy View Post
    Try to vacuum a few days in advance but NOT the day of or just before she comes home. I have a friend who is very allergic to cats and I have a few. We found that if I vacuumed within 24 hours of her visit she was much more uncomfortable than if it had been a few days before. Seems like it shouldn't work that way, but vacuuming stirs up the dander and leaves it in the air for a while, so it's better to do it way before so it has some time to settle. She also takes Zyrtec before she gets here and it also helps a lot.

    We have a couple of friends that grew up with dogs, then left home for college and had the same problem when they came home. Your body can "get used" to an allergen you're exposed to all the time; when you take away the daily exposure, the reaction builds up again.
    Leslie - i will definitely vacuum Tuesday or Wednesday instead of Thursday. She's coming home Friday night. That makes sense about stirring up the dander.

    Zyrtec has been mentioned a couple of times, I'll buy some of that for her, too.
    The term "working mother" is redundant.

  9. #9
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    What about an air purifier for her room? How do they work?
    The term "working mother" is redundant.

  10. #10
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    [QUOTE=Shugness;1520910]Gracie - that's terrible! It doesn't all add up though, like you said, she's never had a problem before, and it was serious enough to keep her from sleeping.QUOTE]

    people can and do develop allergies at any time of life, including allergies to things/creatures they''ve always been able to abide before. i've known three adults who had always lived around cats that developed the allergy, and were diagnosed as cat-allergic, after the age of 25.
    also as people have posted, remove other allergens as well as may be-- no scented candles, no softener on towels, cloths, blankets and sheets, no plug-in fresheners (or any kind of scented air freshening product, and let a window be open for a while, in the closed bedroom, before she arrives. all of these help alot, as i found when i lived with a cat allergic man. His doctor had told him this protocol, and it worked. you might want to make sure your furnace filters are clean, too.
    i'm going to be dealing with it myself again in december when a friend visits... and i can't pawn my cat on anybody for Christmas!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gracie View Post
    What about an air purifier for her room? How do they work?
    not a bad idea, either, as long as you keep a clean filter in it!

  12. #12
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    The dander is really difficult to get rid of once it has been in the house. DH's daughter has allergies and even getting rid of a cat didn't help for a long time.
    People can develop allergies to anything at any time. I feel awful that you and she are having to deal with this.
    Maybe she can try Nasalcrom ....it is over the counter and it is a lifesaver for me during Birch pollen season.
    It is not systemic and I find relief within 24-48 hours, but it says to use it about a week before being exposed.

    Good luck.
    Thoreau said, 'A man is rich in proportion to the things he can leave alone.'

  13. #13
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    It is totally normal to develop (and lose) allergies throughout your life. I went to college allergic to no inhalants. I returned from college allergic to just about anything I could inhale. I had an inhalant allergy test earlier this year, and I was off the charts allergic in 22/24 allergens tested. So, she really isn't that unusual at all

    I bought an air purifier on my allergist's recommendation. I absolutely love that thing. She specifically recommended buying a HEPA Air Cleaner from Sears - both the Kenmore and Whirlpool brands. She specifically recommended those brands based on her own experience, and she wouldn't stand behind any others (I bought a Kenmore). Her suggestion was to run it on high 1 hour before bedtime then turn it down to low and turn it off in the morning to extend the life of the HEPA and pre-filter.

    Hopefully that helps you and dd. I agree about locking the cats away from her bedroom and from the main part of the house while she is home. Also, Zyrtec is my miracle drug! I love it!!
    - Josie


  14. #14
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    I can understand developing allegies over time, but she has only been gone 5 weeks, Is that enough time for an intense allergy reaction to cats develop?

    Laurie

  15. #15
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    I have no idea of the truth of this, but is worth investigating before you drive yourself crazy. A friend of mine who breeds cats says that unlike dogs, what people are truly allergic to in cats is in their saliva. So removing dander will not help (we were contemplating hairless cat to make house more pleasant for relatives with allergies and she said would not work). However she is a breeder, not a medical professional, so i do not know if it is true or not.


    My cat allergies, btw, came and went very abruptly so I buy it completely. But they did mostly go away eventually (I still test as mildly allergic) so maybe hers will to after time.
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  16. #16
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    My DH of 37 yrs has developed an allergy to the Dogs. His dr's idea "get rid of the dog". DH's reply "I better get another dr".

    My thoughts....well we won't go there... LOL

  17. #17
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    Oh this is so timely! My DD was just diagnosed with allergies to almost all the pollens, trees, grasses, etc and dogs. She has never shown a reaction to our dog (which is a doodle mix, supposedly much less allergenic than other breeds). But the doctor said that even just a little sensitivity to the dog helps push her over the edge when the pollens all bloom.

    He recommended an air purifier for cat and dog allergic people, since their dander is so light and fine it really does float around more, unlike pollen. I have ordered products from this site that the doctor's office recommends: http://www.natlallergy.com/

    Could it be that DD was exposed to different pollens because she is away at college and perhaps is allergic to them, then came home and the cat was the straw that broke the allergenic-camel's back?

    I would also recommend Zyrtec while she suffers too.

    Re: ljt2r's comments - I think the problem is, the saliva gets on their fur and dries and then becomes airborne, and that is also what you breathe in. Same thing for dogs. (The bottle of Allerpet liquid says to use it on areas the pet licks frequently, to combat this.)
    Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shugness View Post
    Probably something similar. Drs Foster & Smith only sells through their catalog and the products I've seen have been in pet stores.
    ~ ~ Leslie ~ ~

  19. #19
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    Well I've washed all the bed linens and the curtains, vacuumed thoroughly and bought a large-room HEPA air purifier which has been going constantly since last night.

    I went to Sears for the Kenmore one but they were totally out of stock except for the super huge ones that were $$$$$. I was told they're seasonal - which I thought was silly. People are always allergic.

    Target had a Holmes brand with the True HEPA filters meant for a much larger room than DD's bedroom on sale for $99 which was $25 less than the small sized-one.

    I'll probably turn it down but keep it on when I get home from work tonight.

    Keep your fingers crossed that this will at least help DD!!
    The term "working mother" is redundant.

  20. #20
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    Oh I should have added that you can see how well your air purifier is working by looking for dust. Since buying and using my air purifier this spring, I have only had to dust my bedroom once. And I keep my windows open in the summer... it is amazing how much cleaner the surfaces in my bedroom are now.
    - Josie


  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by avariell View Post
    Oh I should have added that you can see how well your air purifier is working by looking for dust.
    I will keep my eye on that, thanks. I am also curious as to how the filters look after 12 years of having a cat (8 of them with 2 cats) and never doing more about the dander in her room than the usual housecleaning.

    This unit has 3 HEPA filters and is the same size as your everyday box fan.
    The term "working mother" is redundant.

  22. #22
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    Update on DD's weekend at home:

    She still had stuffiness but no wheezing (she has asthma) and was able to sleep. I'm calling that a win based on how she was the previous weekend.

    I had run the huge air purifier on high nonstop from Wednesday evening - Friday midnight when we all got home. The room had been vacuumed on Tuesday so I wasn't stirring things up right before she was home. I washed all the bed linens, the pillows and the curtains. I even folded them and put them in a clean plastic bag until I had time to make the bed.

    The room has been off limits to the cats since and will stay that way. I may re-wash all the linens again before she comes home for Thanksgiving and will certainly run the air purifier for a few days prior.

    I think keeping her door shut and the cats out is helping the most. She still petted the cats, sat with them in the living room for a bit, etc and was fine. It was something about the overnight/sleeping part that stuffed her up.

    thanks to everyone for their suggestions!!!
    The term "working mother" is redundant.

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