A pet allergy occurs in sensitive people who are exposed to the hair, fur or saliva of a household pet like a cat or dog. The reaction occurs as a result of coming in contact with the proteins that are within the saliva, fur or hair. These foreign proteins, known as allergens, trigger an immune reaction which cause a range of symptoms.
A pet allergy is similar to other allergies like a house dust mite or milk allergy. It aggravates any preexisting allergic conditions like asthma, eczema or hay fever. It may also cause certain allergic signs and symptoms that may exist for a short period of time and then disappear, only to recur again in a little while.
Causes of a Pet Allergy
Animal fur or pet hair is a common allergen. Once it enters the body through the airways or makes contact with the skin,it triggers an allergic response. Histamine, a chemical secreted by immune cells, triggers the process of inflammation. This causes a range of signs and symptoms. Like any allergy, it is due to the immune system overreacting to a stimulus – in this case, pet hair. Living in close contact with an animal, like a cat or dog, increases the chances of exhibiting an allergic reaction to the hair, fur or saliva.
Signs and Symptoms
If you already have an allergic condition, the symptoms will aggravate when you are exposed to dog hair or cat fur. The common signs and symptoms include :
- Itchy, red eyes.
- Mucus production, like a runny nose.
- Skin rash with itching.
- Sneezing or wheezing.
Treating a Pet Allergy
Prevention is the best approach but if you are suffering with a pet allergy then treatment may be required to reduce the reaction and ease the symptoms. Antihistamines are the main course of treatment and corticosteroid drugs may also be necessary.
Prevention of a Pet Allergy
The main approach to prevention is reducing contact with the animal as much as possible. This includes direct contact with your pet as well as any objects that may contain their hair, fur or saliva. If any person in the house has a pet allergy, the pet should be removed from the living quarters and should remain outdoors. The couch, bed and carpeted floors are the main areas where pet hair or fur will be present and any contact with these objects will trigger or aggravate the allergy. Cleaning is not usually sufficient to remove all traces of the animal protein and it is therefore better to remove the pet from the home.