Allergies are on the rise for both people and pets. While dogs and cats don't typically suffer runny noses and watery eyes like humans, they are likely to exhibit signs such as sneezing, wheezing, itching and scratching. You can do your part to protect your furkids by keeping your household free of allergens.

1. Rid your house of dust mites

Dust mites are the most common household allergen. These minuscule mites live on dead skin cells and other detritus in house dust, and are impossible to eradicate completely. It’s important to vacuum all the places that your pets have designated as snooze zones, including underneath beds. You should also wash pet beds and bedding regularly.

2. Stay flea-free

It takes only one flea bite for a pet to have an allergic reaction. Even if you have an indoors-only cat, she can be infected from fleas transported into the home by the dog or even by you. Fleas spend only 20 percent of their time on pets. The rest of the time, they are in your carpets, furniture and drapes. If you are treating your entire home, be sure to use pet-friendly products and remove your pets from the environment for the duration of the treatment and for at least a day afterwards. Vacuum cleaners that have built-in ultraviolet lights are excellent because the light kills existing fleas and any eggs waiting to hatch. Most importantly, do not forget your pet's monthly flea prevention treatment.

3. Choose your essential oil diffusers and perfumes carefully

Pets can be allergic to your perfume. So, if your pooch or kitty starts sneezing soon after you’ve splashed on your signature scent, your fragrance could be an issue. It’s also important to remember to never burn pure essential oils around cats. In concentrated form, essential oils are toxic to felines because cats lack the necessary enzymes in the liver to break down and excrete the chemical compounds found naturally in essential oils. Hydrosols, oils that have been through a special water/steam process, are okay.

4. Use pet-friendly household cleaning products

Pets are especially vulnerable to the effects of perpetual exposure to the chemicals in some household cleaning products. When pets walk on the surfaces the products are used on, it can cause direct allergic reactions in the skin and fur. When they groom themselves or lick their paws, they are ingesting cleaning products in the process. Because pets have faster metabolisms than people, they are at even greater risk because they absorb more of these toxins into their bloodstreams. Likewise, they are often allergic to the scents used in air fresheners, which are also known to exacerbate asthmatic conditions in humans too. Hence, you can protect your pets by choosing pet-friendly products while cleaning your home.

5. Toss the plastic food bowls away

Your pet could very well be allergic to his food and drinking bowls if they are made from certain plastic materials. Feline and canine acne — blackheads and red lesions on the chin area — is very common, and has been linked to chemicals in plastic food bowls. As in humans, pet acne is a result of an oily buildup that blocks the hair follicles. It will worsen when scratched and can get infected. The condition often persists throughout the pet’s life. Change out plastic bowls for glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Be sure to wash them regularly.


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