Many households will still be getting used to having a pet in the house after receiving one as a Christmas gift – but it's worth remembering animals can trigger allergies.
Allergic reactions are caused by animal saliva, skin and urine. When animals groom themselves, they lick, and saliva coats the skin, fur or feathers. Skin cells covered in saliva ('animal dander') are shed along with loose hairs and fur.
There are simple ways to control your allergic symptoms, including:
• Having hardwood floors instead of carpets, and blinds instead of curtains.
• Avoiding wearing woollen clothing.
• Designating some areas as pet-free zones, particularly bedrooms
• Opening the windows for at least one hour every day and moving the litter tray and cat bed away from air vents.
• Regularly cleaning rooms where the pet sleeps.
• Washing your hands immediately after stroking your pet and not rubbing your eyes.
• Washing your cat's bed regularly.
• Taking them to the vet if you notice them grooming or scratching more frequently.
• Using medications such as antihistamine tablets or nasal spray yourself, as advised by your doctor.
People who think they have allergic symptoms should discuss allergy testing with a doctor before giving up their pet. Sometimes your allergy may be caused by something else, such as dust mites.
Meanwhile, make sure children stay away from dog and cat faeces. Don't let children play around a litter tray and stay clear of dog litter bins at the park.