Dog & Cat Allergies: Here's Your Ultimate Guide to Pet Allergies
From cuddly kittens to playful puppies, pets make their owners’ lives happier and more meaningful. But for allergy sufferers, pets can lead to runny noses and sneezing fits that make spending time with your fur baby miserable instead of miraculous.
What are Pet Allergies?
Dog allergies and cat allergies cause the same reactions as other environmental allergens. They cause your body to react to harmless proteins in your pet’s skin, urine, or saliva (not their fur, as many assume). These proteins trigger the body to react with an immune response. This response is an allergic reaction and may include various symptoms, such as:
- Shortness of breath
- Hives or rash
- Itchy, swollen, teary, or red eyes or eyelids
- Runny, itchy, or stuffy nose
Some of these symptoms overlap with other kinds of allergic reactions, compounding and making your allergies even worse. Beyond being frustrating and uncomfortable, untreated allergy symptoms can escalate to serious complications like asthma, nasal polyps, or chronic sinus headaches and infections. If you experience these symptoms, order your at-home allergy test kit today, and start your journey to an allergy-free life!
Many people with allergies struggle to manage their pet allergies more than other allergies, such as dust or pollen. This difficulty arises because your pet’s skin particles (also known as “dander”) are tricky to avoid.
After all, your pets have a mind of their own. Try telling your cat he’s not allowed in your bedroom and see how well he cooperates. More troublesome, however, is the amount of skin cats and dogs shed. Pets shed so much skin that a home that once had a pet can still have a significant amount of pet allergens six months after the pet’s removal.
To make problems even worse for allergy-prone pet owners, these dander particles float through the air. Because they are airborne, it leads to consistent exposure to your eyes, sinuses, nose, lungs, and bronchial tubes.
What Are Dog Allergies?
Dogs spread allergens throughout your house just by moving around. The more time they spend indoors, the more allergens you must contend with. This problem is worse in rooms where your dog spends the majority of its time.
Interacting with your dog also raises exposure to allergens. When you pet your dog, when he licks your face or hands, or when he climbs into your bed, you’re spreading pet dander and exposing yourself to allergens.
What Are Cat Allergies?
Cats are not only more likely to cause an allergic reaction than dogs are, but cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies.
Part of this allergenic increase is due to cats licking themselves. A regular aspect of their grooming routine, this licking spreads saliva throughout the living space. What’s more, cat dander is considered stickier than other animal dander. This stickiness causes cat hair to stubbornly cling to carpets, bedding, furniture, floors, and walls.
What About Hypoallergenic Animals?
Regardless of what the breeder tells you, there’s no such thing as hypoallergenic animals. When pet owners use the term hypoallergenic, they refer to something that’s unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. While certain people and animal breeds might have a better allergenic match, there aren’t any safe breeds if you’re allergic to a specific animal. And yes, that includes poodles.
The theory behind hypoallergenic animals is that they shed less fur than other animals. While there is less fur, remember that it’s not the fur that causes a pet allergy. While one pet sheds less fur than another pet, all animals still shed dead skin cells and spread saliva around the home. There’s no getting out of it.
Tricks to Tame Your Pet Allergies
While there is no getting out of pet allergies with hypoallergenic animals, there are some actions you can take to limit your exposure to pet allergens.
Limit allergen shelters
Pet allergen shelters are places where allergens easily hide. The fewer allergen shelters you have, the fewer allergens in the home, and the easier it is to keep control of your allergies.
Common allergen shelters include:
- Overstuffed furniture
These shelters serve as reservoirs for pet dander. Instead of giving in to your suffering, consider more allergy-friendly options like leather furniture, blinds instead of drapes, and hard surfaces instead of plush ones when possible.
Air ducts and filters can also be allergen shelters. They trap, store, and spread dander throughout your home. If possible, use separate ventilation systems for pet-friendly rooms and your bedroom. Remember to change your filters often. At a minimum, replace them every 90 days.
Bedding also holds pet allergens. Wash all bedding often, including your pets’. Be sure to wash pet bedding separately from your own to reduce exposure.
Remove pet allergens
Because your pets are constantly shedding allergens, you must remove them regularly. Frequent vacuuming is a must when you want to reduce allergens in your home. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter or uses a micro-filtration bag to reduce sending pet dander into the air.
Installing HEPA filter air purifiers in your home also removes allergens. You can also open windows, but if you’re allergic to pollen and dust, this practice can be counterproductive. Opening your windows opens your home to pollen and dust allergens, which can worsen your symptoms.
You can also ask guests not to wear clothing that has been in contact with pets when they visit your home. When others track in allergens, it can undo all your hard work.
Keep your pet clean
Scientific studies have confirmed that washing your pet weekly significantly reduces its allergen load, perhaps up to as much as 85%. It’s best to establish this habit while your pet is still young. The person washing and grooming your pet should not be the person with allergies.
Designate pet-free zones
If possible, only allow pets in specific rooms of your home. Always keep pets out of your bedroom and close your door when you sleep. An invisible fence or enclosed door is an essential tool to create barriers throughout your home. You might miss sleeping with your furry friend, but this separation can significantly reduce your pet allergies.
How to Beat Pet Allergies
It’s not always possible to eliminate exposure to pet allergens enough to enjoy life to the fullest. If you’re doing everything you can and your allergy symptoms still make you miserable, don’t panic – you don’t have to say goodbye to your fluffy friend yet!
At Wyndly, our allergy specialists provide the allergy relief and guidance you deserve. If traditional allergy treatments haven’t worked for you, it’s time to try Wyndly. Schedule your free allergy consult now and learn about our personalized treatment plans that offer real solutions for your allergy needs!
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