Studies show that pets act as our probiotics, which means pet ownership is beneficial to overall well-being. However, this statement may not apply to everyone, especially to individuals who have pet allergies.
Being a dog or cat lover whilst suffering from pet allergies can be very heart-wrenching. If you are one of those trapped in this situation, are you willing to lead a ‘pet-less life? Or is hope still there for you to keep a pet in your life?
What are the symptoms of pet allergies?
How do you know if you have pet allergies? Below are the common pet allergy symptoms you should look out for:
- Inflamed airways
- Runny nose and sneezing
- Postnasal drip
- Itchy nose or throat
- Nasal congestion
- Red, itchy, or watery eyes
- Upward rubbing of the nose
- Swollen or blue-coloured skin under the eyes
- Skin reactions such as rashes or hives appearing as small spots of red or raised bumps
- Tightness in the chest and short breaths
Allergic asthma symptoms include:
- Audible wheezing sound during exhaling
- Difficulty in breathing
- Sleeping troubles due to difficulty in breathing
- Pain and tightness of chest
Can you develop allergies to pets?
Yes, you can develop pet allergies. People who are slightly allergic to animals may only manifest symptoms of pet allergies after several days of exposure to a particular animal.
Can I suddenly become allergic to my dog?
Yes, developing a sudden allergy to your dog is possible. Several types of allergy including pet allergies can suddenly occur at any time throughout your life. If you are an adult, you are still susceptible to onset pet allergies.
Note that dog and cat allergies are highly linked to the development of asthma and allergic rhinitis. Thus, it is important to consult a doctor if you show signs of dog and cat allergies.
How long do pet allergy symptoms last?
The symptoms of pet allergies typically last for around 7–10 days. However, if the cat or dog allergens are still present in your home, it can prolong the symptoms. Whilst it is possible for the symptoms to temporarily disappear if you cannot get rid of pet allergens in your home, your pet allergy will reoccur.
Get yourself checked by a doctor if your pet allergy signs continue to persist after 2 weeks. If you start to exhibit severe symptoms of pet allergies or asthma, including breathing difficulties and wheezing, it is also time to consult a doctor.
Understanding pet allergies
Generally, allergens are harmless substances except for some people with an oversensitive immune system. Due to this, some people may have allergic reactions from harmless proteins from the pet dander (dead skin cells), urine, or saliva. These substances are called pet allergens, which can trigger pet allergies.
Do you think you have pet allergies? Your best course of action is to undergo pet allergy testing by a doctor. It will effectively assess and determine what specific allergy you actually have. Cost-effective pet allergy test kits are also available if you are too busy to visit a doctor.
You can be allergic to your pet’s saliva, dander, urine, or environment. Affected people may have different severity of reactions from mild sneezing to life-threatening asthma.
The truth behind hypoallergenic breeds
Hypoallergenic breeds refer to pets that do not or may not shed often or those that are hairless. These animal companions may not trigger pet allergies because less fur spreads the proteins and dander throughout the environment. However, hypoallergenic breeds do not guarantee a 100% pet allergy-free environment.
Furthermore, specific clinical signs manifest depending on the severity of the pet allergy. If you are prone to the mentioned symptoms, but you can tolerate them, then yes, there is hope for you to welcome pets in your life. However, for some with severe reactions, it is best to check with your doctor, who will refer you to an allergist.
Check our list of hypoallergenic dog breeds to help you find your future canine companion.
How do you treat pet allergies?
Can pet allergies go away? Some people will be able to outgrow their pet allergies as they grow older. However, for some, this condition may accompany them for a long time.
Fortunately, pet allergies are not as devastating as they sound. In fact, there are millions of people who still get to enjoy their lives with pets despite having pet allergies.
Here are some home remedies that may help you manage the symptoms of pet allergies:
- Plant supplements
According to a recent study, certain plant supplements with rosmarinic acid help reduce pet allergy symptoms.
- Saline sinus rinse
Use saline sinus rinse with a mixture of 1 teaspoon of baking soda, 3 teaspoons of salt (iodine-free), and 8 ounces of warm water. Mix the ingredients in a clean container. Draw up the solution using an ear dropper or use a sinus-rinsing device that you can buy from stores. Lastly, gently put the solution into the nostril.
There are over-the-counter medicines that will help you relieve or reduce the symptom of pet allergies.
Antihistamine medication is designed to block histamine, a compound that causes pet allergy symptoms, initiating local immune responses.
Another way to treat chronic or severe pet allergy symptoms is to undergo the process of immunotherapy. This refers to the allergy shots that an allergist gives. They use medical shots with allergens to build allergen tolerance.
- Nasal decongestants and nasal corticosteroids
These medications are helpful to relieve nasal congestion triggered by immune responses.
- Other medications
As for people with severe reactions to pet allergies, it is best to set an appointment with a doctor. He/she will be able to give you an appropriate prescription.
Most people with pet allergies also suffer from asthma. In addition, pet allergens trigger asthmatic episodes. In this case, it is best to seek advice and medication from a doctor that treats airway complications.
What should you do when keeping a pet despite having pet allergies?
How do you deal with dog or cat allergies as a pet parent? Here is a list of tips you can do to greatly lessen the chances of triggering pet allergies:
What do you need to do to prevent pet allergies?
- Consider getting someone other than yourself who can do the house cleaning, including brushing and washing your pet. If you have to do it yourself, be sure always to wear a dust mask.
- Always remember to wash your hands after every petting session.
- Prepare the chosen ‘pet outfit’ where you only wear it only in the presence of your pet.
- Make sure to get yourself tested, preferably by an allergy specialist, to determine your allergies’ specific triggers and prescribe appropriate medications.
How do you keep your dog or cat from triggering your pet allergies?
- Maintain regular bathing at least once per week. Use a specialised shampoo that will not dry his skin.
- Use a product with a formula that prevents the accumulation of pet dander.
- Provide him with washable pet bedding so it would be easy for you to clean it.
What do you need to do to improve the living environment?
- Make your bedroom an allergen-free room. Invest in buying hypoallergenic bedding and pillows.
- Consider switching to HEPA (high-efficiency particulate arresting) vacuum cleaners to reduce pet allergen levels and dust in your home.
- Use an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to reduce pet allergen levels.
- Use room sprays that are categorised as anti-allergen.