What To Do If You’re Allergic to Dogs or Cats
It’s estimated that 70% of US households have pets. It’s also estimated that up to 30% of people have pet allergies. These numbers show that many of those with pet allergies have pets at home or visit others who do.
Dealing with a pet allergy can be a frustrating experience. But having a dog or cat allergy doesn’t have to hold you back from pet ownership or being able to manage your allergies while around your furry friends. With the right guidance and treatment, you can beat your dog and cat allergies and find lifelong relief.
What Causes a Pet Allergy?
Pet allergies result when you have an allergic reaction to your pet’s dander, urine, or saliva. Your immune system overreacts to these harmless substances and acts as though they are dangerous.
The immune system ignites an immune response that attempts to rid the body of the allergen. This response may include inflammation of tissues, tearing of the eyes, excess production of mucus, coughing, or sneezing. As the immune system tries to expel the intrusive material, various allergy symptoms develop.
What Are the Symptoms?
The symptoms of dog and cat allergies develop when you’re in contact with an animal. In many cases, you may not need to pet the animal to get a reaction. Some dog and cat allergies are so severe, that even being in an area where an animal has been or around someone who has been in contact with an animal is enough to spur an allergic reaction.
Because pet dander is so small and can be carried throughout a home, being in a house with a pet or that a pet recently lived in can be enough to cause allergy symptoms.
The most common pet allergy symptoms include:
- Watery, itchy, or red eyes
- Swollen eyelids
- Runny, stuffy, or itchy nose
- Nasal congestion
- Shortness of breath
- Hives or rash
For those who have severe allergies and those with a co-occurring pet allergy and asthma, pet allergies can become dangerous. These people may experience difficulty breathing, experience swelling in the face or throat, or go into an asthma attack. If you or someone you love experiences a severe allergic reaction, seek emergency medical attention.
How Does a Doctor Diagnose It?
An allergy doctor diagnoses a pet allergy after talking to you about your symptoms, collecting your medical history, and getting results from an allergy test. The most common allergy test administered in an allergist’s office is the skin prick test. During this test, small drops of various allergens are placed on the back. Then the allergy specialist pricks the skin under the drop with a needle. If you have an allergy to a specific allergen, a red, itchy hive appears.
At Wyndly, our doctors use an at-home allergy test that’s easy to use and accurate. It only requires one finger prick and no itchy, uncomfortable reactions. Once you return the test kit to us, we identify what environmental and seasonal allergies you have and build a completely personalized allergy profile for you.
Management and Treatment
There are multiple ways to manage and treat your pet allergy. It’s important to understand pet allergies may not go away just because you remove the pet from your home or living space. Pet allergens have a longer lifespan than many other allergens and can linger for months.
Yet, you can reduce the number of allergens in your home with a little work and diligence. Vacuum regularly and reduce the use of carpets and rugs. Be aware of allergen shelters, places pet dander and hair like to hide, such as bedding and drapes. Clean those areas regularly. Using an air purifier can also help reduce your pet allergy symptoms.
You may find some relief if you make your bedroom a pet-free zone. It’s the room you spend the most time in and eliminating cat and dog allergens may allow your allergies to improve. Keep the bedroom door closed and use a HEPA air filter to cut any stray dander or hair that manages to come through.
For mild pet allergies or to relieve symptoms in a short time, take an antihistamine for short term relief. Available over-the-counter and through prescription, antihistamines only address your allergy symptoms temporarily.
If you’re looking for long-lasting allergy relief, consider immunotherapy. It’s the only clinically-proven allergy treatment that works to reduce your allergies, not just your symptoms. Immunotherapy involves introducing trace amounts of allergens to your immune system. This process allows your immune system to develop a tolerance to the allergen and, over time, fixes your allergy.
At Wyndly, our allergy doctors recommend sublingual immunotherapy allergy drops. Taken under the tongue once a day, allergy drops are safe, easy to use, and can train your immune system to beat your pet allergy for good.
Hypoallergenic Breeds May Help
In some cases, choosing the right dog or cat may reduce your pet allergy. Although no dog or cat is truly hypoallergenic, there are breeds called such that are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. These animals shed less fur than other pets, although they still spread dander and saliva.
While many dog breeds are considered hypoallergenic, here are some of the most popular:
- Doodles (poodle mixed-breeds)
- Bichon Frise
- Chinese Crested
- Scottish Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
- Shih Tzu
Some popular hypoallergenic cat breeds include:
- Cornish Rex
- Oriental Shorthair
Sometimes, a dog or cat allergy may be more severe with a specific breed or type of animal. Pay attention to how severely you react and note any differences to discuss with your allergy doctor.
Learn More with Wyndly
If you or someone you love suffers from a pet allergy, reach out to the team at Wyndly. Our allergy doctors can advise you on how to best address your dog or cat allergy. Schedule your consultation today and get an at-home allergy test and personalized treatment plan free! Why wait another day when you’re one step away from long-term allergy relief? Schedule now!