Per allergies refer to a condition when the immune system of a person overreacts when the person is exposed to pets. Pets may include one or more of breeds like cats, dogs, rabbits, mice or rats. Most people exhibit symptoms of pet allergies when they touch these animals or come in close contact with them.
The common symptoms of pet allergy include red eyes, itchy eyes, sneezing, breathing difficulties, skin irritation, coughing, hay fever, skin rashes, etc. The severity of symptoms or the reaction often varies from one person to another. If left untreated, severe forms of pet allergies can lead to asthma or other life-threatening situations.
What Causes Pet Allergies?
All pets have a gland in their skin that secretes a protein which may trigger allergic reactions in some humans. These allergy causing proteins are collectively called allergens. In addition to the skin secretion, allergens are also present in the saliva and urine of a pet. The allergic reactions from saliva or urine arise when the allergens in these become air borne after they dry out.
The dead skin cells shed by animals may also set off allergic reactions. The dead cells become air-borne after falling off wherever the animal goes around. When a person with pet allergy inhales these dead cells, the airways of the lungs experience a reaction and create breathing difficulties.
It is important to remember that greater the amount of pet dander, the more intense will be the allergic reaction. So the first and most effective strategy to control allergy is to reduce the pet dander. You may consider going for animals that shed less dander like the Portugese water dog, the bichon fries or any size of poodle.
Tips on Dealing with Pet Allergies
To ensure maximum protection from pet allergies, people with allergic reactions must not come into contact with pets or keep the pets at home. If pets cannot be avoided within the home, then it is important to keep the home extra clean. People with allergies must refrain from letting the pets roam in their bedrooms or other places in the home where they spend most of their time. Reducing carpets, rugs, mats and upholstered furniture will also help reduce pet allergies. These thick furnishings may harbor allergens for up to six weeks.
Here are some more proven tips on managing pet allergies:
- Bathe the pets every week to reduce the amount of dander and allergens.
- Keep the dogs out of the house whenever possible. On the other hand, it is best to keep cats inside.
- While feeding animals, ensure that it gets the recommended amount of fat so that its skin does not dry out. If uncertain about the fat content in pet food, add a teaspoon of oil to it.
- Buy a humidifier. It will purify the air and eliminate around 90 percent of dander.
- Minimize allergy-causing furnishings and materials at home. Cover pillows and mattresses with non-allergenic sheets.
- Ask the vet for products that help to reduce allergens on the animal.
- Consider getting allergy shots based on immunotherapy or desensitization. Almost one-third of people with pet allergies experience great relief after getting these shots.
Treating Pet Allergies
Pet allergies cannot be completely cured. However, there are plenty of medications available to help control the symptoms. Medications come in different forms like syrups, antihistamine pills, eye drops or nasal sprays. People who suffer asthma as a result of allergies are often prescribed medications like inhalers or bronchodilators that relax the airways to the lungs.
To summarize, people with pet allergies now have several options to control symptoms of allergic reactions. However, as in the case of all medications, it is important to consult your doctor before taking any medicine.