It’s a new pet owners worst nightmare: you get your rabbit home, place it in its wonderful new living environment with a feast of fresh hay…only to suddenly start itching and sneezing. If this has happened to you, you’re probably allergic to your rabbit.
While being allergic to your pet might be a shock, it’s actually not uncommon. It’s estimated that 15% of people have some sort of allergies to animals. Whether you do or not is largely dependent on whether your parents were also allergic.
So what causes an allergy? Contrary to what most people think, allergies are not caused by rabbit hair. Instead, they are actually a reaction to dander from the rabbit’s skin or even its saliva. While you might thing your reactions get worse after your rabbit grooms, this is because it is spreading the saliva over its body, which is then more likely to come into contact with your eyes and nose after you stroke him/her.
The good news is that you don’t need to give your rabbit up (unless your extremely allergic). In most cases, by following a few simple steps you can reduce the effect it has on your life.
How to Reduce Rabbit Allergy Symptoms
- Buy a cordless vacuum cleaner and clean EVERYWHERE in your home. The reason I recommend a cordless vacuum is because many come with handheld detachments. These can be used to get rid of pet dander that might settle on of bookcases or other furniture. Just make sure you buy a cordless vacuum with plenty of battery life, otherwise you’ll constantly need to recharge it. It’s also a good idea to buy a cordless vacuum with a pet hair attachment, as dander can sometimes stick to the hair.
- Groom your rabbit on a regular basis. I recommend at least five minutes each day. If possible, get someone in the household to groom the rabbit if you’re allergic. This will reduce the amount of dander escaping into your home.
- Make sure your bedroom is a rabbit-free zone. There’s nothing worse than feeling you constantly have a cold when trying to sleep.
- After you’ve handled your rabbit, wash your hands thoroughly immediately after, making sure you don’t touch your eyes. Also avoid holding the rabbit close to your face.
A rabbit allergy can be an annoying problem, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to get rid of your pet. With some common sense and a bit of extra work, you can greatly reduce how bad your reactions are.
You might also be wondering whether being allergic to a rabbit means you’ll react the same to all animals. This isn’t usually the case, as allergic reactions are caused by your immune system which can vary depending on the animal. So just because you’re allergic to rabbits doesn’t mean you’ll start sneezing around dogs or cats (although you might).