When my husband and I were dating, we took a trip to Vancouver. One of the things you can do there is take a horse drawn carriage ride around the park.
“Let’s go,” I said. “That will be romantic.”
“Oh, I’m allergic to horses,” he said.
“Come on,” I wheedled. “You can sit in the back. You don’t have to go near them. PLEEEASE!” And because he is a good guy, he said OK.
About halfway through, I looked over at him, wondering why he was so quiet. “I need to get off,” he choked in a high pitched voice. “I…can’t….breathe.”
So off we went, having to navigate back to the park entry by foot, me weighed down by the large weight of the “HEEL” emblem replacing my head. I figured he was allergic to horses the way he was allergic to cats, a minor inconvenience, but apparently it was the kind of asthmatic reaction that can send someone to the ER.
People with pet allergies face a lot of struggles trying to figure out what the best response is to them. For many, antihistamines do the trick. Others have to get allergy shots. For many people, it’s a small price to pay for keeping a loving pet in the home.
When I was at Rug Doctor last month, we had a great presentation from Joy Krieger of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation. According to their website, for about 20-30% of people with asthma, cat contact can trigger a severe asthma attack. It’s nothing to mess around with, and for this reason many allergists flatly recommend people not have cats in the house if someone in the house is asthmatic.
The reality is, many people see this as a last ditch effort and try everything in their power to manage their allergies before removing a pet from the house. And lots of those people, fortunately, are successful. In addition to medical treatments, science has made environmental management an easier proposition, from home HEPA filters to house cleaners that bind allergens to more easily make them removable. I’m amazed at the dedication many people have to keeping their pets in their home, and I’m so glad there are options out there.
I know in my case, I would do any and all of the above if I had a pet allergy, but I would be beside myself if my child’s doctor told me I was risking their health.
What do you do when it’s your child that’s allergic?
My heart breaks for people who have to rehome an animal because of pet allergies. I would gladly do anything in my power to keep a pet when it’s my own health I’m compromising, but what is a parent to do when a doctor looks them in the eye and says, “Your child has asthma. You can’t keep your pet”? It’s a terrible position to be in as a parent, and one with which I have nothing but sympathy. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t in most cases. I don’t know of anyone for whom it was an easy choice.
Anyone here have to deal with pets and/or kids and allergies? What did you end up doing?