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First Posted: Sept 13, 2010
Apr 14, 2011

Pet Allergies

by Debora Johnson

Are you a pet lover but have allergies to animals? Depending on how bad your allergies are there may be steps that can be taken to help you. More than 15% of the population have allergies to cats or dogs. I am allergic to dogs and my daughter is allergic to cats. You might be surprised to learn that there are breeds of both dogs and cats that are hypo allergenic. That does not mean that you cannot be allergic to them. It just means that some are more bothersome than others. If so, you might find the following information useful. Of course, always check with your doctor about any medical condition. The following is only for informational purposes.

"All cats and dogs are allergenic (allergy-causing) to people who are allergic to animals. Cats tend to be more allergenic than dogs for allergic people, although some people are more sensitive to dogs than cats. Contrary to popular belief, there are no 'non-allergenic' breeds of dogs or cats; even hairless breeds may be highly allergenic. Dogs with soft, constantly-growing hair-the Poodle or the Bichon Frise, for example-may be less irritating to some individuals, although this may be because they are bathed and groomed more frequently. One dog or cat of a particular breed may be more irritating to an individual allergy sufferer than another animal of that same breed."

What Are the Sources of Irritation to Pet-Allergic People?

"Glands in the animal's skin secrete tiny allergy-triggering proteins, called allergens, that linger in the animal's fur but also float easily in the air. Allergens are present in the animal's saliva and urine, too, and may become airborne when saliva dries on the fur. The severity of reaction to these allergens varies from one person to the next, ranging from mild sniffling and sneezing to life-threatening asthma, and can be complicated by simultaneous allergies to other irritants in the environment."

Steps that Might Be Helpful to Pet Allergy Sufferers

  • Create an allergy free area
  • Confine your pet to that area
  • Use air purifiers such as HEPA air cleaners throughout your home
  • (HEPA vs. Air Purifiers)
  • Use impermeable mattresses, pillows and covers
  • Vacuum often and use a microfilter bag in your vacuum
  • Clean regularly pillows, covers, bedspreads, curtains and draperies, rugs--whatever will collect dander and pet hair.
  • Bathe your pet at least once a week. Get a recommendation on which shampoo to use on your pet. Call your vet for that. Also, cats do not usually like to be bathed. Talk to your vet about how to bathe your cat, too.
  • Consider RASP or skin testing to determine your allergic reactions
  • Allergy shots can often be helpful. "Immunotherapy (allergy shots) can improve symptoms but cannot eliminate them entirely. They work by gradually desensitizing a person's immune system to the pet allergens. Allergy-causing proteins are injected under the person's skin, triggering the body to produce antibodies (protective proteins) which block the pet allergen from causing a reaction. Patients are usually given one dose per week for a few weeks to months (depending on the severity of the allergy) and then can often manage with one injection per month."
  • Antihistamines and steroidal sprays may control symptoms for allergy suffers
Many factors must be considered before a pet is brought into your home if someone in the home is allergic. First and foremost, talk to your doctor first. Don't take any chances.

Cat Allergies
Is There Such Thing As A Hypoallergenic Pet?


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