You walk into your friend’s house, her fluffy and loveable pup runs up and playfully jumps on you, wagging their tail and waiting for you to pet them. But just moments later you are completely overtaken by sneezes and watery eyes, but why? If you are someone who suffers with allergies or asthma, allergies to pets with fur are common. In fact, “in the United States, as many as three in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs and cat allergies are about twice as common as dog allergies.” But even people without previous allergies or asthma can be sensitive or allergic to fido.
How do I know if I have a pet allergy?
Cat and dog allergens are essentially prevalent almost everywhere, but much more so in residences where they life. The allergens land on the membranes that line the eyes and nose.
There is also the issue of the air you breathe while in the home of any furry friends as many airborne particles are small enough to get into the lungs which can cause severe breathing problems. Highly sensitive people can begin coughing, wheezing and have shortness of breath within 15 to 30 minutes of inhaling allergens. Sometimes highly sensitive people also get an intense rash on the face, neck and upper chest.
Outside of the allergens getting into your lungs, less severe reactions include swelling and itching of the membranes, stuffy nose and inflamed eyes. A pet scratch or lick can cause the skin area to become red. It is common to get itchy eyes after petting an animal or being around them, or after petting an animal and then shortly after touching your eyes.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell at first what the exact allergy is because if allergen levels are low or sensitivity is minor, symptoms may not appear until after several days of contact with the pet.
What can you do?
Some people believe that they don’t experience allergies with a “hypoallergenic” pet, and while this may hold some merit – a truly non-allergenic dog or cat does not exist. People with dog allergies may be more sensitive to some breeds of dogs than others, or less sensitive to others – which leads to the myth around the “hypoallergenic” dogs and cats.
Of course, the absolute best treatment is to avoid contact with cats or dogs or the areas where they live and try to avoid visiting homes with pets that you are allergic to. Avoiding cats and dogs may give you enough relief that you will not need medicine.
If you want to continue being around pets, or friends that have pets, there are new technologies making being allergy free a more valiant choice, as well as options for medication. Contact us at Premier Veterinary Hospital today for more information!