Allergies to furry pets, such as cats and dogs, are surprisingly widespread, affecting 10 to 20% of the world's population. Even rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets, and horses can cause allergy symptoms. People can also be allergic to feathered animals like parrots or parakeets. Animals without fur, such as reptiles, amphibians, and fish, don't shed dandruff, so they are less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
Pet allergies often lead to upper and lower respiratory tract problems, such as congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness, and wheezing. Other symptoms include tearing, itching, and eczema or skin rashes. Fortunately, there are ways to avoid and limit pet dander to better control pet allergies. Pet allergy can contribute to the development of constant allergic symptoms since exposure can occur at work, school, daycare, or other indoor environments even if the pet is not present. If you can't avoid being around the animal, you can prevent pet dander from remaining by making sure that all furniture, rugs, and clothing are cleaned immediately and often after contact.
In addition to dandruff, people who are allergic to pets can also be allergic to proteins found in pet saliva, urine, and feces. Because of how light and small pet dander is, it can remain suspended in the air for a long period of time and can easily adhere to furniture, bedding, fabrics, and many other household items. Pet dander consists of microscopic patches of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds, and other animals with fur or feathers. Animal dander can be found even in homes and buildings without pets because of how quickly allergens spread. Wash sofa covers, pillows, curtains, and pet beds frequently and keep pets away from carpets and furniture.
Physical contact with pet dander can cause contact dermatitis, skin rash, hives or cause asthma in a person. If your nose is runny, your eyes water or you start to sneeze and wheeze after petting or playing with a dog or cat you probably have a pet allergy. As an expert in the field of allergies and respiratory health I recommend that people who suffer from pet allergies take extra precautions when it comes to their environment. Vacuuming regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner is essential for removing pet dander from carpets and furniture. It is also important to keep windows closed during high pollen seasons as this will help reduce the amount of allergens entering your home. If you have a pet allergy it is important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you.
Allergy medications such as antihistamines may help reduce symptoms but they do not cure the allergy itself. Immunotherapy may be recommended if medications do not provide relief from symptoms. Immunotherapy involves receiving injections of small amounts of allergens over a period of time in order to build up immunity. Pet allergies are common but they don't have to be debilitating. With proper precautions and treatments it is possible to manage your symptoms so that you can enjoy life with your furry friends.