Dog, Cat and Other Pet Allergies
DOG, CAT AND OTHER PET ALLERGIES
Sure, our furry friends shed, but fur balls are not the problem. It’s actually the pet dander – microscopic bits of skin and saliva residue – that causes most of the trouble when it comes to animal allergies. Dander circulates in the air and has a tendency to stick to walls, clothing and other surfaces.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON PET AND ANIMAL ALLERGIES?
Any animal with fur can trigger an allergy, but the most common pet allergies are caused by our favorite little companions: cats and dogs.1 Both cats and dogs produce multiple allergens (or proteins that cause allergies).2 Homes with more than one cat have higher levels of cat allergens, and dog allergen levels increase if the dog primarily lives inside.2 While some dogs and cats are known to shed less than others, that does not necessarily mean that you can be less allergic to them. So-called hypoallergenic (meaning without allergies) dogs and cats may shed less than others, but no breed is truly hypoallergenic.1
Cat allergies may differ from dog allergies in terms of severity. Contact with a cat can trigger a severe asthma attack in up to 3 in 10 people with asthma.2 You may have also noticed that more people are allergic to cats than they are to dogs. Cat allergies are so common that there are twice as many people with cat allergies than people with dog allergies.2
Unfortunately, if you do have a dog or cat, it’s inevitable that their dander will end up everywhere. Pet dander collects very easily on our furniture, flooring and clothes. It’s also easily stirred into the air when you groom your pet, or dust or vacuum the house, which can mean that this allergy trigger can remain airborne for prolonged periods of time.2
PET ALLERGY SYMPTOMS
No matter how much you love your dog or cat, if you’re allergic to pet dander, it’s likely that you are going to experience some typical allergy symptoms. These may include:1,2,3
- Nasal congestion
- Runny, itchy nose
- Itchy, watery or red eyes
- Skin rash or hives
- Wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath (for more severe allergies)
If you only have a mild dog or cat allergy, these symptoms may not appear until several days after contact with the pet. Highly sensitive people can start to feel symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath, or even develop intense rashes on skin within 15 to 30 minutes of inhaling allergens.2
Since pet allergy signs and symptoms like a runny nose or sneezing can be similar to those of a common cold, sometimes it is hard to distinguish whether or not you have a cold or allergies. If symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, you may be experiencing allergies.1
HOW IS A PET ALLERGY DIAGNOSED?
Your doctor will diagnose a pet allergy based on your symptoms, a physical examination, your medical history and test results. Cat and dog allergies are usually diagnosed with a simple and quick ‘skin-prick test’. Your doctor will place a small extract of pet allergen (dander) on your skin and lightly prick you with a small probe to allow the allergen to get under the skin’s surface. You will then be monitored for any signs of an allergic reaction, which will typically occur within 15 to 20 minutes. If you do experience allergy symptoms, this will confirm that you are allergic to the animal.2
Even if you strongly believe that your symptoms are caused by your pets, it’s still a good idea to get tested. Your symptoms can actually be caused by other environmental exposures or by dust and pollen that is caught in your pet’s fur.2
TREATMENT FOR PET ALLERGIES
If you have an allergy to pet dander, don’t panic – getting rid of your furry friend is not your only choice!
While removing your dog or cat from your home may ultimately be necessary for anyone who experiences severe animal allergies, choosing the right allergy relief product can be a big help. A product like FLONASE can help treat your allergy symptoms while also allowing you to keep your beloved companion.
FLONASE Allergy Relief helps to relieve your worst pet allergy symptoms – including nasal congestion, sneezing, itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose. FLONASE goes directly into the nose to provide 24-hour relief at the source of your allergies. No matter which allergy symptoms you might get from your pets, FLONASE works hard to ensure that any symptoms caused by pet dander and other airborne allergens won’t get in your way. Discover other FLONASE products for you and your family to try.
Here are some other things you can do to help manage your cat or dog allergies at home if you decide to keep your pet:2
- Don’t let your pets into the bedroom. You spend a lot of time in your bedroom, so it is especially important to keep it free of pet dander. Keep the door to your bedroom closed at all times. This will stop pet dander from getting into your bed and help avoid allergy triggers while you sleep. It’s also be a good idea to keep a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaner in your room to filter out any additional allergens that may end up in your bedroom.
- Wash your pets once a week. This may help reduce airborne allergens from your pets.
- Find someone without a pet allergy who can help you care for your animal. Have them brush the dog or cat outside to help remove dander and clean their litter box to reduce your contact with trigger allergens.
- Make sure to keep your house clean. Animal dander is sticky, so try to keep your home surfaces clean and uncluttered. Bare floors and walls are best for reducing allergens, but if carpet is a necessity then select one with a low pile and steam clean it frequently. If you use throw rugs, regularly wash them with hot water to reduce allergens that may gather in them. Vacuum your living space often with a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner to reduce allergen levels.
- Try not to hug, pet, or kiss your pets. While it may be difficult to avoid touching them, direct contact with your pets can make you more susceptible to allergens. If you do touch your pets, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water each time.
You can also take a look at 5 ways to reduce pet allergens in your home for more tips and tricks on managing pet allergies as a pet owner.
1. Pet Allergies. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pet-allergy/symptoms-causes/syc-20352192 Accessed 7/7/2021. See source doc for referenced text.
2. Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs or Cats? Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. https://acaai.org/allergies/types/pet-allergy Accessed 7/7/2021. See source doc for referenced text.
3. Pet Allergy (Overview). American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. https://acaai.org/allergies/types/pet-allergy Accessed 14/05/20.