Pet allergies affect millions of Americans. One estimate by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that as many as three in 10 Americans with allergies have pet allergies. Do you have a runny nose, watery eyes, or wheezing and sneezing after playing with your pet? If so, you most likely have a pet allergy.
The symptoms of pet allergies are similar to seasonal allergies (hay fever) and asthma. Flakes of dead pet skin (dander) are the most known culprits, but pet saliva, urine, and hair are also causes of pet allergies. Pets with abundant hair may also trap pollens, molds and dust mites in their hair, giving you an additional dose of allergens.
Symptoms of Pet Allergies:
- Runny and itchy nose with nasal congestion
- Itchy, watery or swollen eyes
- Rash or hives
- Chest congestion and cough
- Facial pressure and discomfort
- If your pet allergies contribute to your asthma:
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness or pain
- Trouble sleeping due to breathing problems
Causes of Pet Allergies:
Pet allergies are triggered by pet dander, hair, urine, saliva and other allergens they trap in their hair like dust, pollen and mold. Your body sees these substances as foreign invaders, like bacteria and viruses, and makes antibodies against them. Your overactive immune response to these substances causes mast cells (immune cells) to burst and release histamine and other chemicals into your bloodstream, causing your allergic symptoms.
Treatment Options for Pet Allergies:
- Environmental Precautions – we can discuss various options that can help control your environment to minimize the amount of exposure you have to pet allergen
- Medications – we may prescribe for you antihistamines, corticosteroid nasal sprays, and decongestants
- Advanced medications – sometimes antihistamines and steroids don’t work well enough or work better in combination with asthma medications like montelukast/Singulair, which suppress chemicals in your body that cause inflammation (leukotrienes)
- Allergen immunotherapy – this therapy helps desensitize your body to your unique triggering pet allergens, to reduce inflammation and symptoms