Our pets are our best friends. But for many, they can also be the source of wheezing, sneezing, asthma attacks, and more. Pet allergies are more common than people realize. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 15-30% of Americans suffer from allergies to cats and dogs.
Causes of Pet Allergies
Allergens are proteins. From peanuts to pollen the allergen itself is always a protein. We blame pet hair and dander, but it’s really a protein in the dander that we are reacting to. It’s carried in our pet’s lightweight dander flakes, which can be carried by their hair. It’s also active in their urine and saliva. The protein can then be carried to carpet, upholstery, walls, clothes, and just about everywhere we humans interact and live.
Pet Allergy Symptoms
Most allergies are annoying but mild and manageable. They include itchy throat, nasal congestion, sneezing, and watery eyes. More extreme symptoms include coughing wheezing, shortness of breath and asthma-like responses. Sometimes a rash can develop, especially in areas of contact, such as face hands, arms, and neck.
For those who suspect they are allergic to pets, getting checked is the best first step. Sometimes it’s our new family member. Sometimes it’s an environmental factor we don’t realize is present. Pollen, dust mites, and mold are common allergens with similar symptoms. Going to an allergist to determine which specific allergen or allergens are triggering symptoms is the only way to be sure our four-legged friends are the cause. And knowing the real cause will help us determine how to treat the symptoms.
Treat Pet Allergies
Allergies don’t make us love our companion animals any less. Even though avoidance of exposure to the allergen is the only way to truly find relief, there’s a lot we can do to treat symptoms. We can keep our sweet furry friends in our lives and still live well.
Change Our Environment
- Create a safe, allergen-free space. Because we spend necessary rest time in the bedroom, this is our best choice. A no pets allowed policy, where we can get relief when needed and rest without fighting allergies, is necessary.
- Cleaning is our new best friend. Vacuum often. Do laundry regularly, so protein-carrying dander and hair don’t accumulate in a pile of dirty clothes. Shampoo carpets and upholstery often. If possible, switch to hard floors and unupholstered furniture. If dust can’t accumulate and stick, neither can allergens.
- Clean the air. Consider air filters and purifiers. Just make a choice that will clean the air without releasing harmful chemicals or ozone gasses. A HEPA filter can remove a variety of pollutants from the air and is often recommended for those with allergies.
Change Our Lifestyles
- Washing our hands and hair often is a simple way to minimize exposure. We can adopt a face washing regimen that will keep sticky, pesky allergens away from our eyes and nose. Keeping static electricity to a minimum by using microfiber towels can also help to keep pollutants from going airborne.
- Allergy medications can help us through the worst of it. There are plenty of over-the-counter antihistamines to try. Different formulations will work better for different people. A doctor or allergist can determine which prescription drugs if needed, will be of help.
- Allergy shots can help the body’s defenses. They help us develop antibodies that will better protect our bodies when exposed to allergens. It can take a strict regimen and a long time to see results but can remove symptoms completely and eliminate the need for medications.
- Natural remedies can be very helpful. Some people find a daily salt water rinse of nasal passages can help to control symptoms like congestion and post nasal drip. There are over-the-counter kits and saline sprays available to keep the process simple and fast.
Make Good Choices
If we haven’t already adopted and we know or suspect we have pet allergies, we can go with a pet choice that doesn’t include hair or feathers. Cold-blooded pets, such as reptiles, don’t have the allergen found in pet dander.
And remember, pets can have allergies too. They are typically due to mites, seasonal and environmental factors, but treating allergies in pets can often be a very similar process to our methods for treating our own symptoms. For over the counter, all-natural solutions, consider EcoAllergy Anti-Allergy Supplement for Dogs and Cats.
There are also resources from Vet Organics about allergies and our pets such as: