Pet allergy cases may occur among people who are asthmatic or have other allergies. In the U.S for instance, three in every 10 people with allergies are allergic to dogs and cats, although cat allergies are more common than dog allergies. People who experience allergic reactions to dogs are likely to get these reactions from specific breeds of dogs but some may get them from all dog breeds which means that there is nothing like a “hypoallergenic” dog or cat.
Causes of Pet Allergy
The body’s immune system gets rid of bacteria and viruses from our bodies which is the normal response that protects us from diseases. Pet allergies are common among people with over-sensitive immune systems. Such people are more likely to react to the pet’s saliva, urine or dead skin cells (dander). The resulting symptoms are caused by substances known as allergens which can collect on walls and surfaces such as furniture and will remain strong even after several months. They can cling on to clothes, furniture,walls and other surfaces for many months.
Your dog’s fur is not an allergen but it can collect saliva, urine and dander among other allergens such as pollen and dust. Dog allergens are almost everywhere, they can be found in homes and even in areas where dogs have never been housed before since people will normally carry the foreign substances around on their clothing. These allergens can also get into the atmosphere during pet grooming or as a result of household activities such as vacuuming and dusting which could stir the allergens into the air. Once these particles are airborne, they can stay for many months in the air.
Signs and Symptoms
Dog and cat allergens may collect on your nose and eyes’ sensitive membranes causing reactions that include itching and swelling of the membranes, inflamed eyes and a stuffy nose. If your dog scratches or licks your skin, that area may become red. Your eyes may also itch after petting your dog then touching the eyes. Signs and symptoms may not manifest immediately if sensitivity is minor or the levels of allergens are not high enough. Some people may experience severe breathing complications after exposure to these particles especially if they get into the lungs.
If you are highly sensitive, you may experience coughing and wheezing and a shortness of breath shortly after inhaling allergens. Highly sensitive people may also experience rashes on the upper chest, neck and face.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Diagnosing a pet allergy will be based on symptoms, medical history, physical examination and test results. A skin test or a blood test will help in the diagnosis. Your doctor may advise you not to live with your pet for some time until the symptoms go away. Removing your dog out of your house may not help much since the allergens will remain and they could cause symptoms many months after your dog is gone. Avoiding contact with your dog or where it lives is the most preferred treatment method. In case you still intend to keep your dog, remove it from your bedroom and ensure that all surfaces throughout your home are kept clean and uncluttered.