Pet Allergies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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What is Pet Allergy?

Pet AllergiesAccording to an estimate, about 15% of people are allergic to pets, and that translates to millions. Pet allergy is a reaction to proteins found in an animal’s skin cells, saliva or urine.  Any animal with fur can trigger allergies.  Cats are the main causes of pet allergies but dogs, birds, horses, rats, mice, hamsters, cows and poultry also cause allergies.  In addition to pet owners, veterinarians, pet handlers and groomers are most affected by allergies. 

Causes

The main cause is exposure to dead flakes of skin (dander) shed by pets and pet urine, saliva and sweat. The proteins from the body oils, saliva or urine of household pets cause an allergic reaction that attacks the eyes and the airways and can result in asthmatic symptoms and rhinitis (hay fever).  It may also cause atopic dermatitis (eczema) or a nettle rash. 

Symptoms

  • Nasal and Throat Problems: Runny Nose, Sneezing, Cough, Wheezing, Difficult Breathing, Asthma
  • Skin Problems: Nettle Rash, Eczema, Itchiness, Hives (red patches on skin)
  • Eye Problems: Red, Itchy and Watery Eyes
  • Other Problems: Common Fever, Hay Fever (allergic rhinitis)   

Treatment and Control

  • Avoid contact with pets and limit their access to bedrooms, cars and other places frequently used by your family.
  • Replace dander-catching thick carpets with washable ones. If that is not possible, wash carpets frequently.
  • Do not use upholstered furniture. Avoid objects that collect dusts such as furry toys,
  • Wash your bedding, pillowcases, and blankets frequently. Discard old clothes.
  • Avoid touching dusty places such as bookcases and blinds and wear a mask when cleaning such places.
  • If the allergic symptoms are severe, contact a doctor immediately.
  • Wash your hands after playing with pets and apply hand sanitizer.
  • Vacuum clean floors, furniture, carpets, and sofas as often as possible.
  • Use antihistamine tablets or syrups, nasal sprays and drops, and eye drops on advice from your doctor.
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