About 2/3 of American households have pets, a common cause of allergies. Proteins found in their skin called “dander” (dead skin), saliva, and hair all cause allergic reactions. An “allergen” is a normally harmless protein which your body recognizes as foreign and creates an allergic reaction. Contrary to popular opinion, all breeds of dogs and cats can cause allergies. Some breeds such as poodles cause fewer allergic symptoms.
WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF PET ALLERGY?
It can take several years after pet exposure to develop symptoms. (For instance, I developed dog allergy after 20 years of pet ownership!) Symptoms can continue for months after exposure ends as dander remains airborne and on furniture and walls months after the pet is gone.
- runny stuffy itchy nose
- itchy watery eyes
- stuffy nose
- asthma symptoms like cough and wheezing
- hives or swelling
HOW DO YOU DIAGNOSE PET ALLERGY?
After a history and exam, we will skin test to pet allergens. Additionally, we may perform a “nasal smear”
HOW DO YOU TREAT PET ALLERGY?
We divide allergy treatment into 3 categories.
- Wash hands after contact.
- Remove carpet and use a HEPA filter to minimize pet particles in the air.
- Wash your dog every 2 weeks.
- Antihistamines, eye drops and nose sprays can help.
- Dog and cat shots are EXTREMELY EFFECTIVE, often curing allergy. (I can
personally attest to this. Dog shots I currently take completely control my symptoms.)
- Shots for other animals usually help.