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Pet Allergies

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Pet Allergies

What causes the symptoms?

The most common animals that trigger asthma or allergies are cats and dogs, mainly because they are more likely to be kept as pets. Asthma and allergy symptoms may be triggered by proteins found in saliva, urine, and dander of animals with fur or feathers. Animal dander is dead skin cells. Collectively, we call these proteins allergens. The proteins stick to clothing, carpet, furniture, and other surfaces.

What about a hypoallergenic cat or dog?

There is no scientific evidence that certain breeds of cats or dogs are less allergenic than others. Since all cats and dogs have skin, they all produce dander. It is not the type of fur (long hair vs short hair or even no hair) that determines if the animal will cause symptoms.

What are the symptoms of a pet allergy?

Pet allergens can cause symptoms of asthma or allergies. Asthma symptoms include coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. It can trigger a severe asthma attack. Allergy symptoms can include a runny or stuffy nose, itchy/red eyes, sneezing, or an itchy throat. Some people will also get raised, itchy bumps on their skin, called hives, when they touch or get licked by an animal.

How do I treat my symptoms?

The best thing to do is to try to avoid exposure to cats or dogs. Keep animals out of your home and do not visit homes with pets. Pet allergens are present in the house for months even after the animal is removed. It may be difficult to completely avoid animals as their allergens can travel on clothes. Your doctor may prescribe medications to help control your symptoms.

I have a pet. What are some things I can do to help prevent symptoms?

  • Keep the animal out of the bedroom, or move it outdoors.
  • Thorough and regular cleaning. Be sure to remember all the places that allergens can stick to including carpet, sofas, curtains, and bedding. If possible, get rid of old carpets.
  • Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter. This will be more effective than one without the filter. Some people need to use a mask while vacuuming, as allergens may be moved from the carpet to the air.
  • HEPA air filters. This is helpful in the bedroom and a room that is shared with both the pet and person.
  • Bathe the animal every week. This will help reduce airborne allergens.

Disclaimer:This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 11/2017

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