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Pet Allergies

For most people a pet is a beloved companion. Therefore, is is very unfortunate when an animal lover suffers from pet allergies but the truth is that it happens more often than we think, especially to those who suffer from other types of allergies as well. Most pet allergies are allergies to cats and dogs. Statistically, 15 to 30% of people who have allergies also develop allergic reactions to cats and dogs. It appears that cat allergies are twice as prevalent compared compared to dog allergies.

Allergies are are generally triggered by an excessive immune response to harmless substances. In the case of pet allergies the immune system response is triggered by proteins from the hair, pet dander, saliva or urine of household pets. There's really no real difference between short-haired pets and long-haired pets when it comes to allergenic response. Pet hair is no an allergen in itself but because it harbors pollen and dust it can trigger the same allergenic response. The most obvious protection measure for people who suffer from this type of allergy is avoiding pets as much as possible, however many people choose to own a pet despite of the allergy as this allergy is not a life threatening one. It seems that for some people only certain breeds cause allergies. It seems that a person is more likely to suffer from pet allergies if she has close relatives who suffer from pet allergies or asthma. However, sometimes children can outgrow allergies.


SymptomsBecause people who have other allergies are more likely to have pet allergies many combination of symptoms are possible. The most common symptoms of pet allergies are:
  • Cough

  • Sneezing

  • Itchy watery eyes and blue colored skin around the eyes

  • Runny nose

  • Wheezing

  • Itchiness and rashes on the face, neck or upper chest

  • Shortness of breath

  • For people who suffer from asthma a severe asthma attack might be triggered from a pet allergy

  • Facial pressure and pain

  • Sinus infections might also appear in highly sensitive people

  • Chest tightness or chest pain

  • Sleeping problems

  • Car fumes, pollution or tobacco smoke can increase the severity of the symptoms for people who suffer from asthma. The symptoms might appear after a few days or instantly depending on the intensity of the allergy.

    Diagnosis & Treatment

    Diagnosis & TreatmentThe diagnosis is usually establish after a careful analysis of a patient's medical history and a blood test called RAST (radioallergosorbent test) or skin test. If the diagnosis is confirmed medication such as antihistamines, nasal sprays and eye drops drops might be prescribed. Bronchodillatators and anti-inflammatorie medication can also be prescribed. Not having a pet or keeping the pet outside are both helpful measures to prevent and minimize the risks of developing allergic reactions. If a patient insists on having a pet some of the following precaution measures should be taken:

  • Avoid purchasing objects that collect dust and avoid woolen and cotton blankets

  • Only have carpets that can be steam-cleaned weekly or washed in hot water

  • Keep the floors and the walls as clean as possible and keep all the areas clutter free

  • Use only 100% cotton sheets and wash them often

  • Add a HEPA filter to central and air conditioning units to help remove allergens from the air

  • Bathing the pet weekly can help eliminate allergens effectively

  • Try creating an allergy free zone where your pet's access is prohibited

  • Avoid upholstered furniture and only use plastic or wooden chairs

  • Cover bedroom vents with dense filtering material like cheesecloth.

  • Generally, the benefits of owning a pet greatly outweigh the drawbacks, even for people with pet allergies especially if we take into account the fact that pets are highly therapeutic. Pet allergy can be kept under control by using a combination of methods including medication and subtle changes. For people who only have one allergy a desensitizing vaccination is possible. For the vaccination to be effective however, the patient must be exposed to allergens frequently in a period that can last up to 5 years.

    Tags: pet allergies, cat allergy, dog allergy, pet allergy causes, pet allergy symptoms, pet allergy diagnosis, pet allergy treatment, pet allergy facts, allergy facts, allergies

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