Living with pets can be a pleasure. Their company helps you relax and enjoy life as they do, by living in the moment. However, there is always the possibility that you or someone in your family might have an allergic reaction to pets.
Common pet allergies symptoms
Pet allergies symptoms can affect the respiratory tract and manifest themselves in the form of common cold symptoms. You may also develop allergic reactions on the skin, which is also known as dermatitis if you come into contact with an animal. If you suffer from asthma, pet allergies could also aggravate the symptoms.
Regular pet allergies symptoms
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Facial pain due to congestion
- Dark patches under the eyes
Dermatitis symptoms caused due to pet allergies
- Skin inflammation
- Rashes or hives
Pet allergies symptoms in asthma patients
- Disturbed sleep
- Chest tightness
- Breathing problems
Repeated inflammation of the nasal passage can create obstructions in the sinuses. This increases the chances for bacterial infections like sinusitis. Pet allergies can also be a serious threat to asthma patients. It can aggravate their problems to such an extent that it might need emergency medical attention.
Confirm your allergy
While a large number of people suffer from pet allergies, cat allergies are estimated to be twice as common as dog allergies. However, there are more pet cats than dogs in American households. If you feel you are allergic to dogs or cats but want to get a pet, you can try spending a day with a friend’s dog or cat. You can spend a day in the company of that animal to see how you react over a period of 24 hours.
Get a medical test confirmation
You can consult with an allergist who can help you make sure whether you have an allergy to a dog or cat. An extract of dog or cat allergen is placed on your skin. Then your skin is pricked with a sterile probe to let the allergen extract enter the skin. You will mostly start having reactions within a few hours. If not, then the cause of your allergies is probably in the environment and not on the animal.
Whether you are allergic to the pet or not, most doctors understand your love for your existing pet or your longing to get one. So, they may suggest ways to cope with the allergies and live with the animal.
They may even be able to come up with treatment plans to strengthen your immunity to pet allergies and prevent the symptoms from occurring again.
What causes pet allergies?
The animal’s fur, saliva, urine, and dander can all cause allergies. So, getting a dog or cat with less fur may not always be a solution. Pet dander is the main problem, these dead skin cells stick to clothing, upholsteries, and other places. They can also float in the air and affect people with allergies even if they have not come into contact with the pet. Which is why, unfortunately, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet.
What causes the allergy is not the dander, hair, or saliva on its own. It is the protein present in these that triggers the reaction. The body’s immune system sometimes becomes cross-wired, perceiving normal, harmless substances as a threat. They then trigger reactions like inflammation, sneezing, itching, watery eyes, and a runny nose.
Sometimes, the pollen or dust that clings to the pet’s fur is the cause of the allergic reaction. In this case, you are not allergic to the pet. You can consult your doctor and take an allergy test to determine if you are really allergic to your pet or to some other factor in the environment.
Solutions to get relief from pet allergies symptoms
If the allergy is severe or the allergic person has a condition like asthma, it might become imperative that you find a new home for the pet.
- You may try finding a friend or neighbor who would adopt the pet. This way, you or your kids can still see the animal and play with it.
- You can see if a relative, like your parents or your brother or sister, could take care of the pet.
If the allergic reaction is not severe, you can avoid giving up the pet and try other measures:
- Limit the rooms the pet is allowed in.
- Limit the contact the allergic person has with the pet.
- Regularly clean and vacuum the rooms, screens, the rugs, and carpets to keep the environment free of pet hair, dander, etc.
- Give the animal a bath every week and brush to remove loose hair and dander.
- Get allergy medications to the person with allergies.
- If you are allergic, when you visit a friend’s house and you know they have a pet, take your anti-allergy medication along.
- If you play with the animal, make sure you wash your hands and dust off your clothes before you put your hands near your nose or mouth.
- If you like animals, try keeping an aquarium in your room and watch the fish swim around, instead of keeping a dog or cat with you. Fish may not be as responsive as other pets, but they will not trigger your allergies
In the US, more than 60% of homes have pets. Unfortunately, pet allergies are very common, and millions of people fall victim to it. You can now be aware of the pet allergies symptoms and take appropriate measures.