What is a pet allergy?
It is a common misconception that only pet fur causes pet allergies. What actually triggers allergic responses are the proteins in a pet’s fur, dander, saliva, or urine
Common pet allergy symptoms include:
- A runny or blocked nose
- Wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath
- Watery, itchy, and red eyes
- Skin rashes or hives
Cat and dog allergy
All cats and dogs produce multiple allergy-triggering proteins. The more pets live in one home, the higher the level of allergens will be in that household.
The following characteristics do not have any influence on cat level allergens: the length of a cat’s hair, its sex or whether it is an indoor or outdoor cat. None of these features have any impact on the cat allergen level in a household.
Unfortunately, there is no scientific evidence supporting the claim that there are hypoallergenic cat breeds that do not cause any allergic reaction. Like cats, dogs also produce multiple different proteins that can trigger allergies. Dog fur, dander, saliva, and urine contain these allergens.
Some breeds, such as poodles and Portuguese water dogs, have the reputation to be hypoallergenic, but like it is with cats, there are also no truly hypoallergenic dog breeds.
For dogs, sex might play a role for triggering allergic reactions, however. Research suggests that people who are allergic to the specific dog protein Can f 5 can potentially own a female or neutered dog without problems, because Can f 5 is produced in a male dogs’ prostate gland. Dogs produce six different allergic proteins: Can f 1 to Can f 6. About 30% of dog allergy sufferers specifically only react to Can f 5.
It’s not always a pet allergy
In some cases, people experiencing allergy symptoms around the house naturally suspect their pet to be the cause. However, that is not always the case, as both cats and dogs “collect” other allergenic substances such as pollen, mold, or spores in their fur. The more time a pet spends outside, the more allergenic substances it collects and subsequently carries indoors.
Pet owners suffering from a pollen allergy might experience allergic rhinitis symptoms indoors when their pet is close and think that it might be the culprit. In reality, the pollen collected in the fur is causing the allergic reactions, not the animal protein itself.
A comprehensive allergy test such as the 7DROPS ALL Allergy Test can determine what substances an individual reacts to. All relevant animal allergens are screened for, such as all six dog allergenic dog proteins, including Can f 5.
Management & treatment
Experts suggest for allergy patients to limit the exposure to allergens they are sensitive to as much as possible. There is no reason for pet owners to immediately despair after receiving a diagnosis for pet allergy, however. If you have a pet at home, you can still take several preventive measures to limit your exposure to the allergen and alleviate symptoms without having to rehome your furry friend:
An important step in avoiding pet allergens is keeping your pet out of your bedroom. A person spends around a third of every day in the bedroom – making it a pet allergen free zone can improve allergy symptoms tremendously.
If possible, pets should be regularly brushed outside by a non-allergic person to remove some of the allergens.
Vacuum and clean surfaces regularly and consider removing rugs and carpets in which pet dander can get stuck in easily.
If your house is equipped with air-conditioning or air-cleaning unit, make sure it is equipped with a HEPA-filter removing allergenic particles from the air
Pet allergy medication
Allergic reactions to pet allergens usually include symptoms of allergic rhinitis, such as sneezing, itchy, watery eyes, and a runny or blocked nose. Prescription medication such as antihistamines, nasal corticosteroid sprays, or decongestants help to alleviate symptoms.
For some pet hair allergy sufferers, can be a long-term solution. Consult your allergist about the possibility of receiving allergy shots. Immunotherapy is a time-consuming method, however: it takes about 3 to 5 years to desensitize a patient, and injections need to be administered every 2 to 4 weeks.