Sleepovers and Visits with Pet Allergies

By Heather Legg

Many of us worry about food allergies when our children go to someone else’s house, but there are plenty of us who worry about other things, like pet allergy reactions. Even if you have a pet, maybe your child is allergic to another kind of animal. So what can you do if your child has a pet allergy and her best friend has a pet? Or the other way around, how can you be a good host when someone comes visiting who is allergic to your pet? Here are some tips to help out:

When you or your child goes to someone’s house:

• Let the family know. You don’t have to be alarmist about it, but they would want to know so they can take some preventative measures (see below).
• Pack some Benadryl. If your child is old enough, let her handle it. If she is still young, give it to the parents and let them know any signs that she may need to take some. It’s more polite to send your own than to rely on them to provide it. Make sure you let them know the dosage, too.
• If it’s for a sleepover, send her own sleeping bag and pillow. You don’t know if the cat sleeps on the pillows or if the covers may have dog hair on them. This is good especially if they are sleeping on the floor. Then no one has to worry about washing sheets and pillow cases, too.
• Remind your child of basics : if she plays with the pet, wash hands afterwards. If she shouldn’t even go near the pet, remind her not to.
• If you need to ask the family to make sure the pet has distance from your child, do so. Most people don’t mind and are happy to make the visit a good one.

When someone comes to your house who may be allergic to your cat or dog:

• Keep your pet in a spot away from the visitor. Maybe keep the cat or dog in your bedroom, or don’t let it go wherever the visitors are (if they are sleeping in your kid’s room, keep the pet out).
• If they didn’t bring their own pillow/sleeping bag, give them a fresh one. Don’t take the pillows off the bed for your guests, even kids. It is more sanitary anyway, for everyone.
• Vacuum before they get there.
• Watch for allergic signs and take care of them.

Visiting with pets can be done, even for the allergic. Good communication is key, on both the guest’s and the host’s part. Remember, don’t be shy; everyone wants a healthy visit!

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