Are you allergic to your pet? If so, you are not alone. It's estimated that 10 percent of the U.S. population suffers from pet allergies. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, nearly 10 million pet owners are allergic to their own pets, yet many folks would rather deal with itchy eyes that live without their furry friends. Sure, they make over-the-counter allergy medications, but you don't want to spend the rest of your days in a Benadryl stupor, right? So how do you deal with your allergy symptoms without kicking your kitty to the curb?  

Here's how to minimize the itchy eyes, sore throat and runny nose brought on by your favorite family pet:

Get tested: Are you sure it's your cat that's causing your symptoms and not dust mites on your pillow? An allergist can give you an in-office test that can help you pinpoint what's causing your allergies.

Create a safe harbor: Designate your bedroom as a pet-free zone. Sure, it's fun to have your pooch sleep on your bed, but it will only exacerbate your symptoms. Keeping your room pet-free will give your body a chance to recover each day.

Suck it up: Clean floors, rugs and bedding with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter that removes allergens from your home.

Go bare: Better yet, get rid of carpets and rugs and let your floors go bare. Rugs trap allergens and make them difficult to remove. Throw rugs that can be washed in hot water weekly are your best bet.

Gear up: Time for a bath or brushing? Wear a face mask to minimize your exposure to dander. Just be sure that the mask approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and rated to block out allergens.

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