Health and Wellness

2 tips for adopting a furry pet — even if you have allergies

Svetikd | E+ | Getty Images

Having a cute and cuddly pet can be an experience like no other. But for some people, furry animals can trigger their allergies.

From cats and dogs to hamsters and even horses, being allergic to certain animals is common, says Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network.

And the symptoms aren't always as simple as sneezing every now and then, Parikh tells CNBC Make It.

"You want to make sure it's not affecting your lungs or your breathing," she says. This can lead to severe outcomes, like asthma attacks, in some people.

But if you have allergies, it doesn't mean that you won't ever be able to adopt a furry friend, Parikh says. Here's what she recommends doing to make sure you're adopting the "purr-fect" companion.

What to do before adopting a pet if you have allergies

Before adopting a pet, Parikh suggests beginning your process with two steps:

  1. Spend time around the type of animal you're planning to adopt to see how your body reacts.
  2. See an allergist and get tested for different pet allergies, especially if you already have other allergies or asthma.

"Nobody knows how badly or how strongly you'll react to something until you're living with it," says Parikh. "It is a good idea if you're suspicious to really get those allergy tests done and come up with a plan."

"You might be surprised that you're allergic to one pet, but not the other, and decide to adopt the one that you're not allergic to," she adds.

Another option is adopting a pet without fur. These animals are a safe option if you have allergies and don't intend to see an allergist beforehand, Parikh says.

Here are a few animals that you can consider bringing home with you instead:

  • Fish
  • Turtles
  • Lizards
  • Snakes

3 things you can do if you've already adopted a pet that you're allergic to

Perhaps you've already adopted a furry friend, only to discover that they trigger your allergies. Or you've decided you really want a cat or dog, even though you're slightly allergic to them.

Don't worry, you can still minimize flare-ups by using certain methods, says Parikh. In this instance, she encourages you to:

  • Not let your pet sleep in your bed or bedroom
  • Use air purifiers
  • Consider going to an allergist to get allergy shots that can lessen the severity of your allergies

Additionally, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences recommends these preventive strategies to lower your exposure to pet-related allergens:

  • Wash your hands and clothes after playing with your pet.
  • Dust your home often with a damp cloth.
  • Remove or replace your carpets.
  • Encase mattresses and pillows in allergen-proof fabric covers.
  • Clean your home often using a vacuum cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. If possible, have someone who isn't allergic to the pet complete this step.

Want to earn more and work less? Register for the free CNBC Make It: Your Money virtual event on Dec. 13 at 12 p.m. ET to learn from money masters how you can increase your earning power.

Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter

How I raised $700 million to develop a vegan egg for my food startup
How I raised $700 million to develop a vegan egg for my food startup