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Beauty and fashion, health updates, pets, gadgets
   Beauty and fashion, health updates, pets, gadgets

House Calls with Dr. De La Flor
Dear Doctor de la Flor
I think my son might be allergic to our dog.

02.04.2009 - Is there something we can do to manage this without getting rid of our pet?

Dear Valerie,
Not even Barack Obamas family is immune to such issues. Eldest daughter Malia has pet allergies. So when they launched their search for a new first pet for the White House, they set out to find a hypoallergenic dog. 

Most allergists will tell you that there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat.  But by following certain precautions you can avoid allergy triggers.  As you have probably heard the hair is the carrier of the allergen. Allergens are produced in saliva, skin glands, and urine.  Your beloved pet sheds flakes of dead skin called dander. Its in these flakes,  not the fur, that certain proteins activate the immune system in an inadequate manner.  Its possible someone could be allergic to even a bald cat. It is the dander that triggers the most significant allergic reactions.

But theres more. Your dog or cats saliva gets on its fur when it cleans itself. It also clings to your skin after those loving, but slobbery kisses. Coming in touch with the saliva triggers the pet allergy -- the sniffling, sneezing, and watery itchy eyes that someone with an allergic reaction experiences.

Heres how you can have a pet and manage allergies too:

  Borrow before you buy: If you are not sure how a family member will react to a pet, spend some time with a friends dog or cat. That way, you can determine how big an issue pet allergies might be. 
  Consider a less cuddly pet.  Fish can be an attractive alternative for many people who want a pet without as much fuss as furry friends.
  Make Fido an outdoor pet. Keeping your dog or cat outside can obviously reduce the amount of allergens in the home. 
Invest in a HEPA filter. High-efficiency particulate-arresting (HEPA) filters can remove almost all of the animal dander thats in the air.
  Give Fluffy a bath once a week.
Bedrooms should be a pet-free zone. 
Remove carpets, upholstered furniture, and heavy drapes. Most of these home furnishings cant be washed. As a result, they can become a repository of pet allergens.
  Try to use allergy meds as little as possible:  Medications will treat the symptoms of your pet allergy, but symptoms will come back if you dont treat the cause of the allergy.

Dr. De La Flor, G.P. is licensed in medicine & general surgery.  He holds certificates in nutrition, medical exercise and human performance from the University of Berkeley in California, the American Council on Exercise and the U.S. National Strength & Conditioning Association.  He is a strong believer in work/life balance and spends much of his time outside of his surgery on the tennis court or chasing his four kids around the neighborhood.

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Dr. De La Flor

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