How to handle being allergic to pets when visiting a friend.

Tips for Visiting Friends or Family if You’re Allergic to Their Pets

Pet dander is one of the most common allergies in the world. In fact, as many as 3 in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to dogs and cats. Despite so many people having pet allergies, nearly 67% of all American families share their home with a pet of some kind.

With those kinds of numbers, it’s tough to avoid friends and family members with animals in their homes. You want to spend time with your loved ones, but you also don’t want to suffer through allergic reactions.

If you have plans to visit a friend or family member’s house this summer, here are 9 tips for managing your allergy symptoms if they have pets.

1. Talk to Your Doctor

Before you head over to your loved one’s house, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor. If you schedule regular appointments with your doctor, they’ll have a better sense of your allergy symptoms and whether you’ll be putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

Your doctor may also be able to prescribe allergy medication that can help make you more comfortable during your visit.

2. Be Honest with Your Friend or Family Members

Before you visit with your friend or family members, let them know about your allergies. While it may seem more polite to keep your allergies to yourself, it’s better to be upfront. This way, your loved ones can make sure to take the necessary steps to accommodate you.

If you’re only visiting for dinner, for example, your friend or family member may segregate their pet to a different part of the house while you’re there. They’ll also be able to thoroughly clean their home and vacuum as much pet hair and dander as possible before you arrive.

If your family member or friend isn’t able to make accommodations for you and your allergies are life-threatening, be honest with them that you won’t be able to visit.

3. Consider a Hotel Stay

If you’re planning to visit for a few days, a hotel, Airbnb, or local vacation rental may be a better option for you. As much as you’d like to stay with your loved one, constant exposure to pet dander can be dangerous for those with extreme allergies.

Don’t be afraid to look into other accommodations in the area. While you may worry that you’re being rude to your host, if you explain your allergies to your friends and family, they will understand.

4. Stay Outside When You Can

If possible, suggest to your friend or family member that you stay outside during your visit as much as possible. The fresh air will help mitigate your pet allergies, and you can stay away from pet dander-covered furniture inside.

Especially in the spring and summer months, this is a great opportunity to suggest grilling outside or enjoying coffee in the backyard or on the deck.

5. Avoid Fabric Furniture and Carpet

Pet dander can linger in the air and collect on furniture and carpet for longer than other allergens because of their microscopic, jagged shapes. Because of this, homes with fabric couches, rugs, and carpets are breeding grounds for pet allergy attacks.

If possible, spend the majority of your visit in the kitchen or dining area, where there’s less likely to be fabric-covered furniture and carpet. Talk with your friend or family member before your visit, and ask them to vacuum or use a lint roller on their fabric surfaces to reduce exposure.

6. Stay in a Well-Ventilated Room

If it’s not possible to meet outside, choose the most well-ventilated room in the home. This may be a spot with multiple windows that you can open to let in the fresh air, one that has the best airflow, or one that has had the least interaction with the pets.

You may talk with your friend or family member about using a HEPA air filter in a specific room, especially if you intend to stay the night. While the HEPA air filter won’t create a completely allergen-free environment, it can help remove allergens from the air and minimize your exposure to pet dander.

7. Wash Your Hands Regularly

As with all health concerns, washing your hands regularly can help minimize your exposure to pet allergens and manage your symptoms.

If you’ve come into contact with any pets, wash your hands immediately to reduce your chances of a reaction. It’s also a good idea to wash your hands regularly during your visit if you’re sitting on fabric furniture.

8. Change Your Clothes After Pet Exposure

If you’re staying with your friend or family member, bring several changes of clothes. If a pet rubs against your pant leg or you’ve been sitting on a pet-friendly couch, your clothes will likely be covered in pet dander.

A change of clothes can help you feel more comfortable and may reduce your exposure to allergens. If you’re not able to change your clothes during your visit, bring a lint roller with you and regularly remove the pet hair from your clothes.

9. Bring Your Own Pillowcases and Bedding

If you’re planning to sleep in the same house as pets, having fresh, pet-hair-free bedding can make a big difference in your quality of sleep.

While your friend or family member may have washed the sheets and pillowcases beforehand, it’s hard to completely remove pet hair and pet dander once the bedding has already been in the home.

Your own pillowcases, in particular, can help mitigate pet allergies and give you a clean, allergen-free space to rest your head at night.

Do You Struggle with Pet Allergies?

If you’re one of the 30% of people who struggle with pet allergies, you’re not alone. It can be tough to navigate, especially if you have lots of friends and family members with pets.

Luckily, there are still ways you can visit with your loved ones without irritating your pet allergies too much.

Always check with your doctor first, and then follow a few of these tips. If you do, you can help minimize your allergy symptoms so you can spend more time with the people you love.