Animal allergies are common in children, especially to cats and dogs. This can be very difficult for kids that really want a pet. Many parents believe if their child is allergic to cats and/or dogs, then they are allergic to all animals with fur, but this is often not true. I have a nephew that is allergic to cats, but not dogs and another nephew that is allergic to cats, dogs, and rabbits, but not all furry animals. There are ways to find out what animals your child is or isn’t allergic to and then be able to finally get your child a furry little friend.
Family and Friends with Pets
One of the easiest ways to find out if your child is or isn’t allergic to a certain animal is to see if they have an allergic reaction to pets that belong to friends and family members. This is how we found out one of my nephews is highly allergic to dogs. Our friends got a dog and every time my nephew was at their house, he had a terrible allergy attack. It was pretty easy to figure out that it was the dog. We found out that he is also allergic to my cat and my daughter’s rabbit because of the allergy attacks he has if he touches them or is around them too long. My other nephew also has allergy attacks when he’s near my cat or in my house too long.
This worked the opposite way as well to find out which animals my nephews weren’t allergic to. The one that is allergic to cats, dogs, and rabbits, isn’t allergic to my daughter’s hamster or my parakeets. He loves to hold and pet the hamster and let the birds sit on his hand. My other nephew has had no allergy problems with any of our pets except the cat and even has a black lab at home.
Go to a Pet Store
Another way to find out if your child is allergic to certain animals is to take a trip to the pet store. Most pet stores let people spend time with the animals, especially if you’re interested in buying one. Let your child hold and pet different animals he or she is interested in. If there’s no allergic reaction, then you have most likely found a pet they can have. You can even make a few trips to spend time with a specific animal your child is interested in to try to make absolute sure there’s no reaction. Many pet stores have a fourteen day return policy too, so if an allergy isn’t apparent at first but becomes obvious after having the animal a couple of days, you could take it back. Please realize that I’m not suggesting you just go and buy a pet and then see if there’s an allergy and then return the poor animal. I am simply pointing out what can be done if an allergy becomes obvious after you have already taken measures to try to make sure there wasn’t an allergy.
Visit an Animal Shelter
Many animal shelters will also let people spend time with the animals. Usually, you can spend even more time with the animals in a shelter than the ones in a pet store, allowing for greater opportunity for an allergic reaction to happen if it’s going to. A benefit of finding an animal in a shelter that your child is not allergic to is the fact that if you adopt it, you are giving a rescued or abandoned animal a new home with someone who will love and take care of them.
You can also have your child tested for allergies. There are several different options for allergy tests. Your pediatrician should know which ones would be best for your child. My nephew who is allergic to cats, dogs, and rabbits had an allergy blood test done. The test showed that he is highly allergic to cats and dogs. Nothing was said about rabbits, but that may not have been one of the animals an allergy was checked for.
Sometimes, you come across an opportunity to do a trial basis with a pet. This is what happened for my nephew that is allergic to cats, dogs, and rabbits. He had wanted a furry pet for the longest time, but his parents were hesitant at first, being afraid that he would be allergic to any animal with fur. After it became obvious that he wasn’t allergic to our hamster or birds, they took getting a pet into serious consideration. They happened to come across two guinea pigs that needed a new home with someone who could spend more time with them and decided to try it on a trial basis, hoping he wouldn’t be allergic. The current owner agreed and said she would take them back immediately if there was an allergy problem. She liked the guinea pigs and took good care of them, she just thought she didn’t spend enough time with them. This was a good opportunity for my nephew and his family since they knew the guinea pigs would go back to a good home if it didn’t work. They brought the guinea pigs home and let their son spend as much time with them as possible. The weeks went by without any signs of allergies and the guinea pigs were able to stay. Finally, my nephew got the furry, little friends he always wanted.
Please know that I am not a medical professional and that these are just suggestions for finding a pet for kids with allergies. You, as the parent, know your child and whether trying any of these would cause a serious allergic reaction. If your child has allergies to animals that causes them to not be able to breathe or any other life-threatening reaction, please do not try these suggestions.
How to Take Care of a Guinea Pig
How to Tame a Hamster
Should You Clip Your Pet Parakeet’s or Lovebird’s Wings