Keep or Give Away Your Pet Because of Allergies?

By Heather Legg

I just read a pieces from a parenting blog in the New York Times online about a devastated family who needs to give their new beloved kitten away as the children and mom are both showing allergic signs. They went to the allergies and pediatrician who concurred that they were all allergic and needed to get rid of the cat.

The mom appears devastated in her letter as do the children. They seem to truly love their new kitten. The kicker is, she had the children tested last year for dog and cat allergies and they both turned out negative. Now they both test positive. Ugh!

What a hard decision to make. I guess often people don’t know if someone in their family is allergic to pets before they get one. And there are so many levels of allergies. I know growing up if my cat slept near my face, I’d wake up with swollen red eyes, but otherwise, he never bothered me. The same for my daughter and her hamster. If he’s near her face, her eyes itch, her nose runs. If she simply plays with him and then washes her hands, she’s fine.

I think this woman is in a difficult spot, and she was writing in asking for advice. But since allergies differ so much from person to person, I think she has to make the decision. Some of the commenters said, wait, it just may be an initial reaction and then resolve itself. Some said it’s all bogus and allergies are way overrated. Others mention how animals help build immunity to allergies, keep the pet. The overwhelming response is to wait, see if the reaction fades and to definitely get a second opinion.

I found it interesting that so many people wrote in describing how they have allergies and pets. Often having the pets helped the allergy, or else it was a high reaction and after a week or so went away, like this one:

My husband has allergies to cats and has symptoms that last for a few weeks upon getting a new one, and by that point his body has adjusted. He has done this with three different cats, once as a child and twice as an adult.
It’s only been a week. Were it me, I would wait a bit longer, unless anyone in the family’s health is in immediate danger. And perhaps consult another doctor.

or this one:

Allergists are alarmist idiots. There is almost nothing they can to to help you other than to say “get away from the allergen.” They are terrified of being sued, so they always advise the most conservative course of action.

I am allergic to horses and cats. But I’m around them all the time. (have 1 horse and 3 cats). I’m pretty unhappy around them if I haven’t been near them for a while, but once I get used to it, my symptoms disappear.

This is NOT uncommon. Give it a month. It may get better, it may get worse. Just give some time. Really, you do build up an immunity to allergens.

and one more:

I cannot believe all these commentors telling the poster to risk her children’s health for an animal. My husband is highly allergic to cats. Over the years the allergy has just gotten worse. He has had shots (once a week for 5 years) and now he can be in a room where a cat was for 5 minutes before he cannot breathe. Allergies do not get better with exposure, they get worse. I am sorry about this, but find another pet that your children are not allergic to – their health is what is most important.

Check out the article at NYTimes.com and read not only the article, but the responses. So many differing points of views…..

By the way, best of luck to this family in their decision.

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