When You're Allergic to FidoIN SEASONAL HEALTH
Man’s best friend is oftentimes his worst enemy when pet allergies strike. Pet allergies affect an estimated 10 percent of the American population, According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. While an animal’s fur or feathers may affect some individuals, a majority of sufferers are actually allergic to small scales of skin, or dander, that a pet sheds. Some people are even allergic to the animal’s saliva, urine or droppings. In addition, the hair or fur of an animal can collect other allergens, such as pollen, dust, and mold, which can also trigger an allergic reaction.
Typical symptoms of pet allergies include:
- Difficulty breathing
- Itchy eyes, nose, throat or skin
- Redness in the eyes
- Runny nose
- Sinus pressure
- Watery eyes
What Can I Do?
For animal lovers, having a pet allergy can be upsetting. However, if you do have pet allergies, it’s important to take appropriate precautions—such as administering medicine—when you are going to be around animals. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are sometimes recommended if you cannot avoid contact with the allergen or animal and symptoms are too severe to control effectively with traditional methods. If you do come into contact with a pet, try the following steps to help reduce symptoms:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
- Take Benadryl® or another type of diphenhydramine as soon as possible if your prescribed medication is unavailable
- Wash hands immediately after contact
Individuals who are allergic to animals may also be allergic to wool, which may contain small amounts of dander.
If you love animals but have a pet allergy, there is hope. Many hypoallergenic pets are available that can significantly reduce allergic symptoms. Take note, however, that since the majority of allergic reactions are not caused by fur, but rather by the pet’s skin dander or saliva, a truly hypoallergenic pet does not exist. In spite of this, dogs and cats that shed less or do not shed at all can offer relief, as they release less dander into the air. Breeds that fall into this category as recommended by the American Kennel Club include:
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Sources: aafa.org, acaai.org, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, discovery.com, health.com