When your pets make you sneeze: Information about pet allergies
Even while our furry friends are wonderful companions, pet allergies are one of the most common types of allergies in the United States. They are especially widespread among people with any other allergies or asthma. According to The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), in the United States, 3 in 10 people with different allergies also suffer from allergic reactions to dog or cat dander. Another interesting fact is that cat allergies are twice as common as dog danger allergy.
What dog and cat breeds cause the most pet allergies?
Despite common beliefs, there are no particular canine or feline breeds whose fur and dander is more dangerous allergens than others. Some people are allergic to cats and dogs of all breeds, while others are allergic to dogs and cats only of certain, especially furry breeds. That is why there is a common myth about “hypoallergenic” dogs and cats.
What causes pet allergies?
Your immune system can fight foreign substances like bacteria and viruses and produces special chemical histamine that protects the body from potentially harmful allergens. People with dog and cat allergy symptoms usually have over-sensitive immune systems that may react even to harmless proteins found in the cat or dog’s saliva, dander (dead skin cells), and urine. All these substances can be classified as major pet allergens.
The potential danger of pet allergens compared to other allergens is that it’s hard to avoid them if the pet lives in your house. The pet allergens, especially dander and fur, can collect on furniture, floors, and other surfaces. Getting rid of them is complicated, and these types of allergens can affect a person for a long time, without losing their strength. In some cases, pet allergens may even cling to the walls, clothing, and ceilings.
Common pet allergy symptoms
According to Healthline, the most common type of pet allergies is a pet dander allergy. The dander can land on the membranes lining the nose and eyes. The allergic reactions, in this case, may include swelling, itching of the nasal and eye membranes, stuffy nose, and inflamed eyes. A pet lick or scratch can also cause redness of your skin. You may get itchy eyes after caressing a pet and then touching your eyes.
Sometimes, the exposure to cat or dog dander can cause severe breathing problems. Also, people with a high sensitivity to dander may also experience symptoms of cat allergies within 15-30 minutes after being exposed to the allergen:
- Shortness of breath;
- Intense rash on the face;
- Itchiness and red spots on the neck, upper chest, legs, and arms.
Another common symptom of cat allergy is having a severe asthma attack in people with asthma. Cat allergies can cause the chronic form of asthma.
Yes, pet allergies can be frustrating, annoying, and even debilitating if they are severe, don’t despair! There is hope that you and Spot or Mittens can live a long and healthy life together! Read on for information about treating these allergies so you can get back to snuggling with your furry friend.
Cat and dog allergy treatments
After reading the signs and symptoms of a pet allergy do you think it might apply to you? To make sure, a health care specialist can do special cat and dog allergy testing before assigning any type of treatment. The first thing that most health providers recommend is avoiding or minimizing any contact with pets. This decision can provide immediate cat and dog allergy relief. However, if you can’t live without your pets, consider choosing hair-free dogs and cats, snakes, turtles, or fish. The most important thing for allergic people is to avoid pets with fur and feathers.
If you already have furry pets, health care specialists may recommend taking over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications like:
- Nasal corticosteroids (commonly available in nasal sprays). Sprays like Rhinocort, Nasacort AQ, and Zetonna Pro may reduce the swelling of a stuffy, runny nose, and its itchiness. If major symptoms of your pet allergy are a swollen and itchy nose, these sprays may help.
- Another popular dog and cat allergy medicine is an antihistamine. These anti-allergic medications may relieve sneezing, runny nose, itching, and hives. Antihistamines are available in pills, melting tablets, liquids, and nasal sprays. Optivar, Astepro, Clarinex, Atarax, Livostin, Xyzal and other antihistamines may also treat indoor and seasonal allergies.
- Mast cell stabilizers available as nasal sprays and eye drops may also block the production of histamine. The brands Intal Inhaler, Gastrocrom, Tilade Pro and other mast cell stabilizers may reduce itching, watery eyes, and runny nose.
- Decongestants may also work as pet allergy medicine by shrinking the swollen membranes located in your nose. However, you should not use these sprays more than 3 days in a row. The most widespread decongestants in the United States are Allegra-D, Benadryl, Claritin-D, and Zyrtec-D.
- Corticosteroid ointments and creams can reduce the spread of skin rashes and itchiness. You may use a corticosteroid cream like Alphaderm, Betnovate, Calmurid, but for no longer than a week. There are also oral corticosteroids that can work as a dog and cat allergy cure. However, using them can be dangerous for your health because of serious side effects.
- If a person suffers from severe allergic reactions to pet’s dander, saliva, or urine, he or she may need allergy shots. Allergy injections may work as a long-term cat and dog allergy cure, if taken for 3-5 years. These injections can help build the tolerance to pet allergens, pollen, dust, bees, as well as to allergic asthmas. There is also a sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) – as way to get allergy shots without injections. Allergy shots may not work for allergies caused by medicines, food, feathers, hives, or eczema.
How can you remove pet allergens from your home?
If removing or replacing a pet from your home is not an option, you can, at least, try reducing the number of pet allergens surrounding you in the house:
- Consider limiting the access for your pet to your bedroom, because, statistically, you spend one-third of your lifetime there;
- Consider using an air cleaner (like a high-efficiency particulate air filter – HEPA) or humidifier in the bedroom;
- Animal allergens can be very sticky. That is why you should remove the favorite furniture of the pet, wall-to-wall carpet, and scrub the walls and wooden floors, if you can. The best recommendations are bare floors and walls;
- Consider cleaning more frequently than usually;
- Change your clothes after prolonged contact with a pet;
- Try washing your pet each week in order to reduce the airborne allergens;
- A pet can be brushed outside your house to remove the excessive fur and dander. The same should be done with a litter box or cage.
It is not recommended that you treat the pet allergic reactions on your own, especially blending different medications. Also, keep in mind that even if your friend or a family member has pet allergies and uses some medications, these pills or nasal sprays may not be useful in your case.
We wish you (and fluffy) the best of luck with your allergies!