Pet Allergy (Hold)

Dogs, cats and birds can trigger allergies. In fact, pet allergies are a common form of allergy, particularly in children.

Petallergies are usually triggered by the the animal's dander. "Dander" is a general term that describes the different proteins shed from the animal's skin, including skin cells, fur, feathers or saliva.

Even short-haired animals can produce dander and be the cause of a person's allergies. The feather stuffing used in down pillows and comforter can also be a source of pet dander (bird feathers) and the cause of allergic symptoms.

An allergic reaction might occur through direct contact with an animal, such as from petting or holding the animal. It may also occur from inhaling airborne particles of dander that have accumulated in the pet's home.

What are the symptoms of a pet allergy?

Pet allergies produce symptoms that are very similar to those of hay fever:

  • Itch. Itching nose and watery, itching eyes
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose
  • Sneezing and coughing

Direct contact with the animal may also produce an itchy rash called hives. People with asthma may also experience wheezing, breathing difficulties, lung congestion, and coughing.

Most allergic people experience these symptoms right after exposure to the animal, but a less severe allergy may not produce symptoms until several hours after exposure.

What treatments are there for pet allergies?

If you are allergic to your pet and want to keep it, you can take certain steps to treat your symptoms. In addition to the house-cleaning recommendations, allergy medications can help minimize allergic reactions.

Over-the-counter medications that may be tried include antihistamines (Claritin) and nasal sprays containing cromolyn sodium (Nasalcrom®).

If those medications don't provide adequate symptom relief, your doctor may recommend a prescription-strength medication. Possible options include long-acting antihistamines (Clarinex®, Xyzal®, Zyrtec®), steroid nasal sprays (Flonase®, Nasonex®), or a leukotriene inhibitor (Singulair®).

Immunotherapy ("Allergy Shots")

Allergy shots (immunotherapy), may be recommended if pet elimination is not an option and pet allergy symptoms cannot be well controlled with changes in the home and pet avoidance.

Allergy tests are performed to determine the specific protein(s) from the animal (allergen) that is causing the allergic reaction. These allergens need to be included in the shots.

The shots are then given regularly, usually for at least 3 years. The shots start with a very low amount of the allergen, but the concentration of allergen increases over time as tolerance develops.

Because of the time and expense required for this treatment option, allergy shots are not recommended as routine treatment for pet allergy in children.

How can I reduce my exposure to animal dander?

The best way to avoid exposure to animal dander is keep furry or feathered pets out of your home. If you prefer to keep a pet, you can take these steps to reduce your exposure to its dander:

  • Keep pets out of bedrooms. Given the amount time spent in bed, it is helpful to keep that room clear of allergens. Cats or dogs may be fond of spending their day curled up on the bed, but that can lead to misery for some people trying to sleep at night.
  • Keep pets off of upholstered furniture.
  • If your home has air ducts, have them cleaned regularly to remove accumulated animal dander and dust.
  • Have the pet washed regularly by a non-allergic person.
  • Consider purchasing a HEPA air cleaner to remove dander from the air.
  • Choose linens made of synthetic material over down-filled comforters and pillows.
  • Vacuum floors and furniture regularly with a vacuum that contains a HEPA filter.

Source: Vivacare
Last updated : 1/8/2019

Pet Allergy (Hold) originally published by Vivacare