Our canine and feline friends bring us joy and comfort; we invite them into our homes and care for them and they provide reliable and loyal companionship and unconditional love, but nothing ruins the party quite like a case of allergies. For many of us, the nearby presence of a domesticated roommate from the animal world can leave us with itchy noses, eyes, scratchy throats, hives and in some cases severe respiratory disturbances – there’s not much joy and comfort in that.
The discovery of one being allergic to cats and/or dogs can be a sad one. One that can cause a pet owner to have to make tough decisions, like whether they should suffer through and keep the pet (or the boyfriend or girlfriend who owns one), or let them go. But before you start making any tough decisions, you might be happy to find out there are quite a few natural solutions to help alleviate symptoms of allergies due to dog and cat dander, so don’t despair just yet. Essential oils can provide relief for your pet allergies, whether you live with a pet or not.
Let’s Start With A Few Facts On Pet Allergies:
The main cause of an allergic reaction to dogs or cats is the animal’s dander – flakes of skin. Just like people shed skin, so do our domesticated four-legged animal friends. (Oh joy!) According to the National Institute of Health, detectable levels of pet dander are in every home in the United States. About 10 per cent of the population has pet allergies and 37 to 47 per cent of American households have a dog. That annoying dander can get everywhere!
- COLD-LIKE SYMPTOMS: Cold-like symptoms are the body’s reaction to breathing in an allergen i.e. pet dander. The body responds to it as though it is a virus or bacterial infection and does its job to get rid of it by releasing histamine.
- SALIVA AND SCRATCHING: Saliva and scratching from cats and dogs, in addition to dander, can cause allergy symptoms.
- BREED, MATCHED WITH THE PERSON, MATTERS: Symptoms can be greater for one dog of the same breed and less for another dog of the same breed, depending on the person.
- SHORT OR LONG HAIR DOESN’T MATTER: It doesn’t matter if an animal has short hair or long hair – symptoms are dependent on how much dander is being shed. For example; if an animal has short hair, but an excessive loss of skin, that animal may cause more symptoms than a long-haired pet who sheds less skin.
- YOUR OWN HEALTH: However, symptoms can also depend on environment and the overall health of the person suffering from them. If the body is out of balance and a person is inflamed, they are likely to have a more severe reaction. If an environment is lacking in airflow and is unclean, a person is more likely to have a severe reaction.
While there are a ton of over-the-counter medications (anti-histamines) one could take to defend themselves from the symptoms caused by allergies to cats and dogs, they can have nasty side-effects, like drowsiness or excitability. Two well-known over-the-counter medications can cause severe liver damage if not used correctly, or if the medication is used for an extended amount of time. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for allergies to pet dander, therefore many people rely on these medications to alleviate their symptoms on a regular basis.
The Good News About Help For Pet Allergies
There are several essential oils for pet dander that can help ease the pain of allergies to cats and dogs. They can be used in combination with an over-the-counter medication (anti-histamine) if you so choose, or can provide a natural alternative to the over-the-counter medications altogether. The good news is that essential oils are natural and effective, using them to alleviate symptoms caused by pet dander can be a healthy alternative solution to over-the-counter medications.
Over the counter drugs, like antihistamines, typically help by blocking the chemical that triggers allergy symptoms. Decongestants reduce swelling and relieve congestion.
How do essential oils combat pet allergies?
Veterinarian Jodie Gruenstern is a holistic animal practitioner who has been working with animals for over 25 years. Gruenstern recommends essential oils in an article titled “5 top essential oils for canine allergies” on www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com¹ because “essential oils contain high levels of caryophyllene – an anti-inflammatory constituent, they are a ‘great’ choice for allergy symptoms.”
The magic of essential oils lies in the properties of the plants they are derived from. Oils, such as, lavender and lemon, for example, contain natural anti-histamine properties in them, and act to help you without any synthetic chemicals. You can:
- Add a few drops of these oils to a carrier oil and wear them topically; or
- Like a perfume by adding a few drops to a spray bottle with water .
Use the essential oils beforehand, when you know you’re going to be around animals you are allergic to, and it can help prevent histamines from wreaking havoc on your body.
Roman chamomile and peppermint essential oils have anti-inflammatory effects on the body – using these in any home remedies to aid in alleviating symptoms from allergies to pet dander can be helpful to reduce the effects of a stuffy nose and cough.
Manila elemi oil is derived from the resin of a tropical tree from the Philippines. It has a citrus-like smell and is known to ease respiratory complaints, dry cough and excessive mucous. It can also be used on the skin to alleviate rashes. The Manila elemi oil is a recommended essential oil to treat allergies related to pets.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are essential…
To get the effects you are looking for when using essential oils, therapeutic grade essential oils are highly recommended, especially when using them to treat symptoms related to allergies and when you are using them around pets.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are extracted from natural plants and are pure. Some companies develop essential oils and use the pure oil from the plant, but add fillers, such as natural carrier oils, or chemicals as false scents and fillers, kind of like cheap perfumes that can be as toxic on your body as well as the bodies of any animals you use them around.
Therapeutic grade essential oils are your best choice to use when using essential oils for pet dander, and preventing and treating symptoms caused by allergies to pets. If you intend to use essentials oils directly on yourself or your pets, you will need to dilute them and use extreme caution when using them on cats. It is imperative that you follow proper instructions when creating home remedies for dog and cat allergies, even when you are using therapeutic grade essential oils.
Put First Things First: Prevention
Considering the statistics above, most people are exposed to pet dander on a regular basis. As mentioned, your overall state of health and well-being, as well as your environment, play a role in determining how severe your reactions to allergens, like dog and cat dander, are going to be. Therefore, preventing severe reactions is key, and there just so happens to be plenty of oils to help you with that.
How To Use Essential Oils To Prevent Pet Allergies
- A drop of lemon oil added to a glass of water can help your body balance its PH levels, lessening your acidity, and reducing any inflammation in your body. It also works as a fantastic cleaner and air purifier. Add it to a cold air diffuser to cleanse the air in your home. Add a few drops to water in a spray bottle for a counter top cleanser – watch it work magic on your stainless steel.
- Lavender is also great in a cold air diffuser to cleanse air and purify your home. It is a relaxant, which helps reduce stress and increase the quality of your rest. Stress wreaks havoc on your immune system, taking time to reduce its effects on your body will lead to increased overall health in the long-term.
- Thieves cleaners offered by Young Living contain eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, and lemon. It can be used to kill mold and bacteria. Dilute in water for an extremely effective window and mirror cleaner. The properties of thieves’ oil and using the cleaner in your home will give your immune system a boost, preventing flares up due to allergies.
- Citrus oils: lemon, orange, lime, grapefruit are all effective to reduce the smell of pet odors in the home and increase the sense of well-being and happiness of those living in your home.
Animals tend to react to essential oils more quickly than humans do. You can create your own home-made shampoos using essential oils to aid in keeping an animals skin moisturized and clean. Young Living sells a pre-made shampoo and ointment titled, Animal Scents Pet Shampoo and Animal Scents Pet Ointment.
The book “A Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils” by Connie and Alan Higley includes a warning on page 64 with respect to using essential oils on cats.
“Cat physiology is so different from other animals and from humans that oils should be used with extreme caution on cats. In fact, melaleuca (tea tree oil) should never be used on a cat as death can result. Some cases exist where a blend of oils containing melaleuca has killed cats.”
The general rule, also described on page 64 in the Quick Reference Guide for Using Essential Oils by Connie and Alan Higley, is when using essential oils on cats treat them as you would a child.
Recommended essential oils to help alleviate your pet allergy symptoms include: Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Elemi, Peppermint, and general Citrus oils like Lemon, Lime, Orange, and Grapefruit. The Thieves blend by Young Living is also recommended.
Anytime you are using essential oils, use with caution and common sense, and do consult an aromatherapist specialist when you are unsure of something.
I hope you get as much joy and comfort out of using essential oils as you do out of your beloved pet. Hopefully by using the tips in this article, you will be able to snuggle up with your favorite pet, or favorite pet owner without a severe reaction to the annoying dander in no time.