How to tell if you have pet allergies and how to avoid them.
They are sweet, loyal, cuddly furry friends…. and they’re making you miserable. You and 15 percent of the general population suffer from allergic reactions to cats and dogs.
Almost 62 percent of U.S. household have pets, but millions of owners (or visitors to a pet owner’s home) suffer allergic reactions to the proteins found in a pet’s dander, skin flakes, saliva and urine. For asthma sufferers, these proteins can worsen their preexisting symptoms.
Symptoms of Pet Allergies
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), there are a couple of ways to tell if a furry friend may be causing your wheezing and sneezing. If you have a new pet around, or are visiting someone with a pet, and you experience:
- Facial pain
- Coughing, shortness of breath
- Watery, red or itchy eyes
- Skin rash or hives
If you are suffering from any combination of these symptoms, you may have a pet allergy.
A common test used to scientifically diagnose a pet allergy is a skin-prick test. Once it is medically determined that someone does suffer from certain pet allergies, an allergist or immunologist can provide a treatment plan or plan of action to reduce allergic symptoms. Over-the-counter medicines, like DayClear, may be suggested as a source for relief if a friendly furry pet has become a family member and is going to be staying in the house for the long term.
Cats can produce multiple allergens and their dander is considered one of the smallest airborne danders to trigger allergic symptoms. In fact, according to the ACAAI, cat dander can remain in the air for 30 minutes, even if the friendly feline is no longer in the room. That means that someone can experience exposure to a cat allergen constantly when sharing a home or space with a furry friend, increasing the chances of a severe reaction.
Dogs can also be culprits for multiple allergens found in dog hair, dander, saliva and urine. Similar to cats, a dog’s dander can remain airborne for long periods of time even with a slight amount of air circulation. Just as with cats, dog allergy symptom severity can range depending on the exposure level and the individual. However, research shows that cat dander does tend to be the source of more pet allergy reactions than dogs.
To prevent the spread of cat dander throughout a home or living space, a cat should have one room to hold its litter box, toys and sleeping area. Additionally, a cat owner may want to consider hard surface floors, like tile or hard wood, to prevent cat dander from collecting in the carpet. Essentially, it is advised that cats should be restricted to only a few rooms in the house to prevent the spread of allergens. Leather furniture is also recommended instead of drapes and stuffed couches, as these will accumulate cat dander as well.
If someone is experiencing irritation or trouble breathing when around a cat, the ACAAI suggests avoiding petting, hugging or kissing the cat. If it is unavoidable, quickly wash hands with soap and water. Lastly, the ACAAI says cat owners should regular clean the home using a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner and keep HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) cleaners running in the home.
If these recommendations are too difficult or lofty, experts recommend a few other tips as well:
• Try to keep the area where you pet stays clean, and ensure it has as little carpeting as possible.
• Frequently wash your bedding, sheets, comforters and blankets. Washing bedding or blankets anywhere the animal may go is essential.
• Experts also suggest wiping down pets with a warm, damp washcloth or frequently giving a warm bath to wash away excess hair, dander or sweat.
Beyond these preventative measures, medication can be used to help alleviate allergic symptoms. Potent allergy medicines, like DayClear Allergy, can work quickly to remedy the symptoms of a pet allergy. We suggest keeping a bottle of DayClear on hand for you or your guests, should an allergic reaction to your pet occur.