Monday, June 11, 2012

Allergic to dogs, what about a bunny?

I have been severely allergic to dogs my entire life.  And, when I say allergic, I mean wheezing, stop breathing allergic.  I can not even be in some homes that have dogs for more than 5 minutes without experiencing some asthma symptoms.  I am also allergic to other furry pets.  However, these allergies are not as severe and I can usually handle them with a antihistamine and limited exposure.

With 39% of U.S. households owning at least one dog, avoiding my allergies is always a chore.
We combat this fact by offering to host friends much of the time and doing a lot of outdoor activities with friends.  It is easier to deny yourself a pet as an adult than to deny a pet loving child.  We got around the pet request for a few years by getting fish.  And, for the first few years, it worked.  My kids were excited about them, fed them regularly, and watched the tank with interest.  Part of the reason may have been that we lost quite a few fish at first and were getting new ones on a regular basis.  This probably made watching the fish tank more interesting.  Currently, we have had the same fish for 3 years and let's just say that the kids are much less interested. 

With two of my kids slightly allergic to furry pets and with my severe dog allergies, getting a cuddly pet seemed out of the question.  However, their desire to own one did not wane.  Once my daughter with asthma got to the maintenance level with her allergy shots, we decided that it would be a good time to try a small furry pet.  We looked at hamsters first, but their nocturnal nature was not appealing.  So, we began looking into getting a bunny.

Although scratch tests show that I am allergic to bunnies, past experience with this animal has shown me that I can handle a bunny without a problem.  The concern now became the smell!  Could we control it?  Would it set off my asthma?  Also, what about the accumulated dander in our house over time?  Would we get attached to a bunny just to find out months later that it is a problem for me?

Our Lop bunny, Nibble

We decided to give it a try.  It is a lot easier gambling with my allergies than with my kids.  I knew that they would not be the first to react to this bunny which made it easier to take the first step.  We picked out a baby bunny and have had it about 3 weeks now.  We keep it in the house and do let it roam around a bit.  I, the one with the worst pet allergies, clean the cage and handle the bunny most often.  I felt this was important to find out sooner rather than later whether we would be able to keep this bunny or not. 

Well, three weeks in and the report is mixed.  I can clean the cage without a problem which was a bit surprising.  However, my allergies have kicked in the last few days.  They are most bothersome in the morning and evening.  Asthma symptoms reared their ugly head a couple times as well, but they have been slight.  I am still a bit nervous about the asthma symptoms getting worse, and may start allergy shots myself.

Before getting this pet, we went over and over and over the fact that we may need to give this bunny up mommy has a reaction to it.  It will still be difficult to give up this pet if need be, but the kids are well aware that this could happen.  We felt that it was better to have said we tried.