Pet Allergy FAQ'S
What is a pet allergy?
A pet allergy is an allergic reaction to a pet's dander and sometimes saliva.Symptoms may include:
- itchy, watery eyes
- runny nose
- itchy face and throat
Some people may also develop asthmatic symptoms.
How common are pet allergies?
Approximately 10 million people are allergic to cat dander, and 15-30% of those with allergies are also allergic to cats and/or dogs.Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies, and about two million people with cat allergies are still living with their cat anyway.
What causes pet allergies?
Antibodies in your immune system react against otherwise harmless pet dander, saliva, and urine.The histamines released to fight these allergens cause the itchy, watery eyes and other symptoms.
Is it true that some cats and dogs do not cause allergic reactions?
There are designer dogs currently being touted as hypo-allergenic because they don't shed.However, it's important to understand that the culprit allergens are the dander and the saliva.It's true that a dog or cat that has short hair or doesn't shed may aggravate allergies slightly less than a long-haired, shedding creature.Remember, though, that cats still lick their coat and dogs may drool and leave a trail of it all over the house.Thus, there is no such thing as a non-allergenic cat or dog.
Can I have a cat or dog even though I'm allergic?
It is recommended that you not keep a cat or dog if you are allergic or you risk worsening your symptoms.There are several medications available that may or may not work to keep your allergies in check, but remember that the best way to calm your allergies is to limit your exposure to the offending allergens.You won't be able to do this if you have a cat or dog, no matter how much you clean or how many air filters you buy.
How do I clean my home of pet dander and other allergens?
Wear a mask and thoroughly clean the animal's sleeping area as well as any other areas with which the pet comes into contact.Invest in a HEPA filter and use it in your bedroom to limit your dander exposure while you sleep.A few other cleaning tips include:
- Shampoo rugs and upholstery often
- Dust often
- Give your pet a weekly bath
- Keep a flea collar on your pet
- Wash your pet's bedding (and possibly yours too) in 130° F water
Do any other pets besides cats and dogs cause allergic reactions?
Rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, and other small rodents produce allergens.It is wise to stay away from these types of pets if you have pet allergies.
Is there any pet that will be safe for my allergies?
There are still pets that you can keep that will not aggravate your allergies.While not as cuddly, reptiles and fish have scales and do not produce allergens and can make excellent pets.Explore fresh and marine aquariums, or consider keeping an iguana, gecko, or snake.