|The first step in taking control of pet allergies is understanding what causes an allergic reaction to pets in the first place. Many people mistakenly believe that it is the pet's fur that causes allergies. While this is partially true, the main culprit in inciting allergic reactions is pet dander, which is the animal's skin. Pet dander, particularly cat dander, is extremely small and light (down to approximately 2.5 microns), making it easily airborne and hard to capture. In addition to remaining in the air where it's easily inhaled, pet dander can penetrate fabric and upholstery. Additional pet allergens include animals' urine, and saliva residue, and their fur.
Specifically and here we get down to the mechanics of an allergic reaction to pets, allergic individuals react to certain proteins found in the animals: skin cells, urine, fur, or saliva. The bodies of those with pet allergies, mistakenly identifying these proteins as harmful, produce allergy-inducing antibodies to combat them. When these proteins are encountered, through physical contact or inhalation, the immune system generates an inflammatory response, leading to allergy symptoms.
So in a nutshell, a person with pet allergies has a hypersensitive immune system that reacts to proteins that are not actually harmful, but which make an allergic person miserable.
While it's obvious that the presence of pets can lead to allergic reactions, even if you don't own any pets, you could be reacting to pet allergens. This is because pet dander is extremely light and stickyÂ it can stay in the air, in carpets, upholstery, and fabric, and on surfaces long after pets are removed from a home. Sensitive individuals may even react to pet dander that's on the clothing or in the car of a person who owns pets.
Signs of Pet Allergies While pet allergy symptoms resemble other common allergy symptoms, it's helpful to know the common allergic reactions to pets. Following are some signs of pet allergies, as detailed by the Mayo Clinic:
According to the et allergies. This is especially true with cats â€” people who are allergic to animals are twice as likely to be allergic to cats as to dogs.
While standard advice and the common sense approach dictate either avoiding dogs or cats at others' homes or getting rid of any pets that are owned by allergic individuals, life itself isn't always that simple. For instance, what about the man who dates the girl whose cats are her ï¿½babiesï¿½? How can he spend time with her at her house? And what happens when one thing leads to another and they get married? Will she really want to banish her pets from her household and life? For many of us, pets are family, and being allergic to them is almost like being allergic to a human loved one.
Situations like this are all too common. Thankfully, with some education and dedication, allergen avoidance through environmental control can be applied to pet allergies as effectively as to other types of allergies.
What Causes Pet Allergies?
- Runny nose
- Itchy, red or watery eyes
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat Postnasal drip
- Cough Facial pressure and pain
- Frequent awakening
- Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
- In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose
||Pet allergies leading to asthma may also include the following symptoms:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- Audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
- Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
- Bouts of coughing or wheezing that are worsened by a respiratory virus such as a cold or the flu
If you or someone in your household experiences any of these symptoms, pet allergies may be to blame. Keep reading to discover ways to combat pet allergens in your environment.
||Inflammation caused by allergic reactions to pets may also lead to skin irritation, including the following signs of allergic dermatitis:
- Raised, red patches of skin (hives)
- Itchy skin
Medical Treatment for Pet Allergies
Common treatment for pet allergies is similar to that used for dealing with any allergy. Allergy medications including antihistamines, corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, and decongestants are all available, as are asthma medications for both long-term and short-term control of the condition. Some people also choose to undergo immunotherapy, which involves a series of shots that can help the body "learn" not to react to particular allergens. This is usually a last resort, as maintenance shots are necessary about every month for about five years.
Pet Allergy Relief
While the above-mentioned solutions may provide temporary suppression of pet allergy symptoms, what we here at achoo! ALLERGY are interested in and what you are presumably seeking as well is actual pet allergy relief, which can be achieved through environmental control. Following are some pet allergy solutions that, in combination with one another, are sure to make living with your pets (or visiting your home) much more bearable:
- Create an allergy-free zone. Designate one area of the house that will remain off-limits to pets. If you or one of your family members is the allergic individual, keep pets out of the bedrooms occupied by the allergy sufferers. Absolutely keep pets off the bed. You spend about one-third of your life sleeping, and it's crucial to get good sleep that's uninterrupted by allergy attacks. Mattresses, bedding, and pillows are particularly susceptible to infestation by allergens, especially pet dander with its super-tiny size. An additional problem is that dust mites love to feed on pet dander (in addition to your own shed skin cells); pet dander in the bedroom may increase dust mite populations.Clearly, a critical component of creating an allergy-free zone in the bedroom is making sure to protect your immediate sleeping area from allergens by usingallergy relief bedding. When combating the effects of pet dander, Allergy Armor ULTRA is the way to go. With the smallest average pore size in the industry, Allergy Armor ULTRA bedding guards against pet dander as well as dust mites, pollen, mold, and other allergens. Also consider an Allergy Armor Pillow, which is constructed with allergen barrier fabric to keep allergens from entering your pillow in the first place. Considering that the average pillow increases by 10% of its weight in a year due to the accumulation of allergens, might it be time to replace your pillows anyway?
If space allows, consider assigning a living room, family room, or parlor as a no-pet zone where allergic guests can congregate. Train dogs and cats to stay out of that room in order to minimize pet dander and fur from gathering in that room's carpeting and upholstered furniture.
- Wash your pets regularly. While it's significantly less popular with cats than with many dogs, washing pets to clean them of pet dander, urine and saliva residue, and loose fur keeps these allergens from collecting in your home. The Ecology Works Pet Allergy Shampoodenatures the protein that causes pet allergies and also helps control fleas and ticks. Allerpet/C for cats and Allepet/D for dogs are made to use with a washcloth following grooming. For even less fuss, and great for quick cleansing before allergic guests arrive, use Quick Bath Cleansing Wipes for Cats and Quick Bath Cleansing Wipes for Dogs. All these products non-toxic and gentle, making them safe for both you and your pet.As an adjunct to washing your pets, try using the Pet Brush Vacuum Attachmentto remove loose fur and dander before it collects in your home. The vacuum cleaner's roar may send cats scurrying, but many dogs actually enjoy the process.
- Clean your home with extra care. When pet allergies are a problem, cleaning frequently and thoroughly is a must. Using machines and products specifically designed to alleviate pet allergies makes your cleaning routine particularly effective. For instance, the Dyson DC17 Animal Vacuum Cleaner, hailed as the ï¿½ultimate cleaning tool for allergic pet owners,ï¿½ excels at picking up microscopic allergens such as pet dander from carpeting, floors, and upholstery. Furthermore, as with all Dyson machines, its patented root cyclone technology makes for a vacuum that never clogs or loses suction.The Eureka Power Paw Turbo Attachment also makes cleaning up pet hair and its accompanying allergens a snap. This universal turbo attachment helps you vacuum those hard-to-reach areas like the vertical rises of carpeted stairs or upholstery backs where allergens collect. It's also great for vacuuming the car and for cleaning dust, pet dander, and other allergens out of crevices in your home, car, or office.
Pet hair seems to collect everywhere. For quick and hassle-free cleanups, try Gonzo's amazing Pet Hair Lifter Sponge. Simply wipe in short strokes on upholstery, throw rugs - and don't forget those lampshades! This sponge can be used over and over again and uses no residue-leaving chemicals.
- Filter the air. Any complete allergy treatment regimen calls for air purification and dealing with pet allergies is no exception. Austin Air's Pet Machine is specifically designed for allergic pet owners and will trap pet dander, dust mite allergen, mold, dirt, pollen, and other allergens while simultaneously removing pet odors with its carbon blend filter.
- Have nasal irrigation products on hand. When you or a guest does experience a flare-upÂ from pet allergies, a nasal rinse can work wonders by removing the offending allergens from nasal passages. Neti pots like the Narial Nasal Cup or the NeilMed NasaFlo Saline Rinse Kit allow users to safely and effectively clear their nasal passages from allergens using warm water and an all-natural saline solution. For less adventurous allergy sufferers, you can go with more traditional nasal irrigation products such as the NeilMed Bottle Kit or the Breathe-ease Nasal Wash System, which offer relief in the form of more familiar nasal sprays.
- Feed your pets quality food. My-Pet-Medicine.com offers this advice: ï¿½Feeding your cat a healthy diet specific to his needs as determined by your veterinarian will enhance your cat's skin, and coat, and allow your cat to more successfully fend off disease. In general, since cats are carnivores, they need a meat-based diet to stay healthy. Healthy skin and coat go a long way towards reducing cat dander and shedding.ï¿½ The same may be applied to dogs.