What to Know About Pet Allergies

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What to Know About Pet Allergies

January 13, 2021

In the U.S., as many as 3 in 10 people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs.

A survey from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that pet dander is among the top 6 indoor allergens that are detectable in more than 50% of homes.

While people with pet allergies may be more sensitive to some breeds than others, a truly “hypoallergenic” cat or dog does not exist. If you have a cat or dog allergy, your body’s immune system reacts to proteins in the pet’s urine, saliva, or dander.

Pet allergens can land on eye and nose membranes, and cause swelling and itching of the membranes, stuffy nose and inflamed eyes. Pet hair or fur can also collect pollen, mold spores and other outdoor allergens, thus worsening allergy symptoms.

Even homes without pets can contain dander, as it can easily cling to clothes shoes, and hair – thus, pet dander can also be found in classrooms and workplaces.

While complete avoidance isn’t always possible, here are some tips to reduce exposure and manage your symptoms:

It’s best to ask your allergist to specifically test for allergies to pet dander, before making an assumption. Many allergy sufferers are sensitive to multiple allergens. So if you’re allergic to dust, pollen, insecticides, and pet dander, it helps to reduce the overall allergen level in your environment – for example, take aggressive steps to remove pet dander from your home, avoid using insecticides, and maintain a clean home.

 

Other Resources:

Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs or Cats? (Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America)

How to Live With Allergies and Pets (Humane Society of the United States)

Coping With Dust Allergies (Tivic Health Blog)

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