Allergies: For love of pets, and their owners

Allergies: For love of pets, and their owners
Allergies: For love of pets, and their owners

(CNN) – Love is about give and take — and sometimes a supply of nose sprays, inhalers, pills and tissues.

For those of us with pet allergies — that’s about 10% of the population, according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology – entering a relationship with someone who already has a furry roommate can present a lot of challenges.

Can you manage if the pet stays out of the bedroom? If you do a lot of extra cleaning? Is this a deal-breaker for the relationship?

When you completely adore a pet and the person who’s attached to it, you might willingly suffer a stuffed nose. Or you both might cycle through many kinds of pets until you find one that lets you breathe.

The search for a healthy pet

Bethany and Ronald Johansen of Merchantville, New Jersey, married for 14 years, know this well.

Both love dogs and each grew up with a canine companion — but Ronald’s landed him in the hospital. His childhood asthmatic reactions were so bad that he once spent two months in an oxygen tent, he said. The family didn’t realize until later that his symptoms stemmed from their Irish setter, Kelly.

Bethany Johansen gave up her own dog of 13 years for the sake of her husband’s health when they married — a sacrifice upsetting to both of them (although the dog stayed with her parents and Bethany visited her every day during work lunch breaks). The couple lived without pets for several years, but both wanted to expand the family with animals.

“It’s been a journey with pets in this house, trying to find one that I can actually live with without it closing my throat,” Ronald Johansen, 32, said.

There were bunnies, hamsters and guinea pigs — all no-goes for Ronald. A hedgehog left sharp 2-inch quills around the house that would stick to the children’s feet.