What are Pet Allergies?
An allergic reaction to the presence of certain proteins found on the skin cells of animals, or found in their urine or saliva, is called a pet allergy. Signs that show you might have a pet fever are similar to the symptoms of the common hay fever, and include sneezing and having a runny nose. Some people with pet allergies experience some other symptoms such as the signs of asthma, which include wheezing and shallow breathing.
The most often trigger for an allergic reaction to pets is the exposure to your pet's dead flakes of skin, also known as dander. Any animal that has fur can therefore be a trigger for developing pet allergy. Most of the pet allergies are associated with dogs and cats.
If you suffer from pet allergies, the best strategy to avoid intense allergic reactions is to avoid you exposure and contact with pets, such as dogs and cats. Also, sadly, if you have a pet allergy, you would have to give you pet dog or cat to someone. If your heart would break if you would have to give away your pet because of your pet allergy, then you can take certain medications to relieve the symptoms of your pet allergy.
Causes of Pet Allergies
Prolonged exposure or an exposure on the regular basis to the allergen can cause pet allergies.
Cats & Dogs Causing Pet Allergies
Allergy triggers - allergens are found on cats and dogs can cause pet allergies. The most common sites on cats and dogs where allergens are found on them are their dead skin cells, called dander. Allergens in cats and dogs are also found in their saliva, sweat, urine, and on their fur. Dander is the worst allergen found in pets because it is hardest to control - it is airborne even in small amounts and it circulates in the air for a long time if air circulation is present. The worst thing about this allergen is that it collects rather easily in the upholstered home furniture and it also sticks to your clothes.
Pet saliva, which is also an allergen, can stick onto the rugs and carpets found in your home. It can also stick to furniture and clothes. Dried pet saliva can become airborne. What you need to know is that there is no cat or a dog that cannot provoke an allergic reaction; even the so called hypoallergenic cats and dogs can cause allergies, but it less common because they shed less fur.
Rodents and Rabbits Causes Pet Allergies
Pets that belong to the rodent group include hamsters, gerbils, mice, and the cute guinea pigs can cause pet allergies. Allergens we find on rodent pets are most commonly found in their hair, saliva, dander, and urine.
What can also cause the allergic reaction from pet rodents is the bottom of their cage's litter and sawdust. The litter and sawdust found in your rodent's cage can become airborne.
The allergens found on rabbits are present in the rabbits' saliva, hair, and dander.
Other Pets Causing Pet Allergies
Pet allergies are most commonly caused by the allergens found in animals with fur, such as dogs and cats, so it is very uncommon, but possible for other pets such as fishes and reptiles to produce an allergic reaction and pet allergies.
Signs and Symptoms of Pet Allergies
Pet allergies causes the inflammation of nasal passages, and some of the symptoms and signs of pet allergies include:
- Runny nose.
- Sneezing continuously when you are exposed to the allergen of the pet is a symptom of pet allergies.
- Itchy, watery, or very red eyes.
- Nasal congestion.
- Itchy nose, or either itchy roof of the mouth.
- Postnasal drip.
- Facial pressure and pain.
- Swollen skin under your eyes of blue color.
- Awakening on a frequent basis.
- In a kid, frequent rubbing of the nose.
If the pet allergies you have contributes to asthma, you might experience:
- Difficulties with breathing.
- Tightness in chest.
- Whistling or wheezing sound while exhaling.
- Sleep problems caused by wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.
Skin Symptoms of Pet Allergies
Some people who suffer from pet allergies also have the symptoms of their allergy visible on their skin. Those visible signs of allergy are known as allergic dermatitis. Allergic dermatitis is the reaction of immune system to the allergen, which causes the sufferer's skin to get inflamed.
Direct contact of a person with pet allergies with a pet can cause allergic dermatitis whose signs on skin are:
Tests to Diagnose Pet Allergies
Your family doctor might suspect you have pet allergies based on your symptoms, based on the examination of your nose, any by your answers to your family doctor's questions.
Your family doctor or ENT specials might have a look at the lining of your nose with a special instrument. If you have pet allergies, the lining of your nose will appear very swollen and with blue welling inside it.
Allergy Skin Test for Diagnosing Pet Allergies
If your doctor suspects you might have pet allergies, he might send you to do something called Allergy Skin Test. In this special test, very tiny extracts of purified allergens- including the extracts that contain the animal proteins which are allergens, are pricked into the surface of your skin. This test is mostly carried out on the skin of your forearm, but some allergists do this test on the skin of your upper back.
Either a specialist for allergies- allergist, or a nurse will watch out for changes on your skin when the test procedure is over. You wait for the results for 15 minutes, if you are not allergic to any of the allergen extracts applied onto your skin; your skin will not start to get red or to itch. However, if you have pet allergies to any allergen applied to your skin, you will develop eczema and the site where the allergen you are allergic to was applied will start to itch.
Treatment for Pet Allergies
The first line of treatment that would control pet allergies is to actually avoid pets such as cats and dogs. When people with pet allergies avoid pets that carry allergens, they are less prone to experience serious allergic reactions.
Although it is the best option for people with pet allergies to avoid pets, it is not that easy to avoid pet allergens other people on the street carry on their clothes, or to avoid your guests who have traces of allergens on their clothes.
Because of that, you might be advised to start taking medications that would control your pet allergies.
Your family physician might prescribe you some of the following medications for your pet allergies symptoms:
Antihistamines for Treating Pet Allergies
Antihistamines for treating pet allergies are the classes of medical drugs that make your immune system produce less of the chemical that becomes active during an allergic reaction. This means that antihistamines will help calm down your allergic reaction and will prevent you from excessive sneezing, runny nose, and itching.
Prescription antihistamines that come in the liquid form and are sold as a nasal spray include azelastine (Astepro, Astelin), and olopatadine (Patanase). Non-prescripton, or over-the-counter anthistamine medical drugs in form of tablets include loratadine (Claritin, Alavert), fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy), and cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy).
There are alse over-the-counter antihistamine syrups available for children with pet allergies. If over-the-counter antihistamine tablets do not help, then the other options include prescription antihistamines such as desloratadine (Clarinex), and levocetirizine (Xyzal).
Another Way to Treat Pet Allergies is Corticosteroids
Corticosteroids for pet allergies come in the form of nasal sprays. They are able to reduce the inflammation and the symptoms of the hay fever. The nasal spray corticosteroids include mometasone furoate (Nasonex), Flonase Allergy Relief, ciclesonide (Omnaris), triamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24-Hour).
Nasal corticosteroids have less corticosteroids in them and thus they produce less side effects than oral corticosteroids.
Decongestants are also Used in Treating Pet Allergies
Decongestants help people with pet allergies and other types of allergies to shrink swollen tissues inside the nasal passages and thus help those people breathe more easily.
Some over-the-counter medical drugs in form of tablets that contain antihistamines also contain decongestants.
Oral decongestants are advised not to be used because they can raise your blood pressure to very high levels. People who struggle with both pet allergies and high blood pressure should not and must not ever take oral decongestants.
Non-prescription decongestants that come in the form of nasal sprays help people with pet allergies to relieve the symptoms of their allergy. Ironically, if you use a decongestant spray for more than three days, it might lead to the congestion of your nose.
Alternative Treatment for Pet Allergies
Immunotherapy Treatment for Pet Allergies
Immunotherapy treatment can help in treating pet allergies. Did you know that you can actually "train" your brain and your immune system to be less sensitive to an allergen? This is achieved by receiving a series of allergy shots, which are known as immunotherapy.
One to two weekly immunotherapy shots expose your immune system to the very small doses of the pet allergen, which is in this case, the animal protein that causes you to have an allergic reaction. The doses of allergen given to you, as a part of immunotherapy, are gradually increased during a four to six months period of immunotherapy.
Immunotherapy is used in patients with pet allergies if other treatments do not prove themselves to be effective.
Another Alternative Therapy for Pet Allergies is Nasal Irrigation
Nasal irrigation might help you in treating pet allergies. If you have pet allergies, you can also use a neti pot or some other specially designed squeeze bottle so you could be able to clean your sinuses from thickened mucus and irritants. You can achieve it by using a neti pot or some squeeze bottles and squeezing from them saltwater (saline) rinse into your nose.
If you plan to prepare the saline rinse by yourself, be sure to use water that is distilled and sterile. Also, after using your neti pot or some other nasal irrigation device, be sure to clean it with non-contaminated water and leave it to dry itself.
Home Remedies for Pet Allergies
By avoiding pets you know that you are protecting yourself the best way from pet allergies. But, if you just cannot leave your pet because of that damn pet allergy, there are some home remedies using which you can reduce your exposure to the allergens your pet carries. Those home remedies are:
- Bathing your pet on a frequent basis is an excellent home remedy for pet allergies. Ask a family friend or a member of your family to bathe your dog or cat twice a week.
- Another great home remedy for pet allergies is establishing a pet-free zone in your house. Make certain rooms allowed to be entered into by humans, but not by pets and other animals.
- If it is time to clean out your cat's litter box, and you are allergic to cat urine, call someone not allergic to cat urine to clean the cat litter box instead of you. This rule also applies for collecting the litter of other animals.
- Using air filters is a good remedy for pet allergies. Air purifiers and filters reduce the amount of airborne pet allergens in the air by collecting and catching them.
- Keeping your dog or cat outside is also an pro home remedy for pet allergies. If your cat or a dog is comfortable with living outside in the backyard of your home, then make it a little house for them in the backyard and enjoy without having to sneeze every time your cat or dog passes you in the living room.
Risk Factors for Pet Allergies
Pet allergies are actually very common. However, people that are at high risk of developing pet allergies are people whose family members have/had asthma or allergies.
Contrary to popular belief that kids should avoid touch with animals, actually it is very beneficial for kids to stay in touch with pets. The reason for that is that kids get immune to pet allergies if they spend some time with pets.
Some studies have also proven that kids who live in a house with a dog, and play frequently with that dog, are less prone to upper airways infection.
Complications in Pet Allergies
Two major complications of pet allergies are:
Sinus infection is a complication of pet allergies. Chronic inflammation of the tissues located within the nasal passages, which is caused by pet allergies, can cause the obstruction of the hollow cavities connected to your sinuses - nasal passages. The obstruction of the sinuses, previously caused by pet allergies, can make you more prone to serious bacterial infections of sinuses, such as sinusitis.
Asthma is another complication of pet allergies. People diagnosed with asthma, and who alongside their asthma diagnosis have pet allergies, have a harder time managing their asthma symptoms. People with both asthma and pet allergies should keep away from dogs and cats because the allergens dog's and cat's skin and fur contains might cause a serial allergic reaction in people with asthma which would need immediate medical care, and even hospitalization.
Prevention of Pet Allergies
If a family member has pet allergies then make sure that they have minimal contact with the pets to prevent pet allergies. You can keep the pets outside for most of the time. If you are planning to adopt a dog or a cat, or even buy one or both of them, make sure to get tested for pet allergies before you make the commitment of owning a dog or a cat.