Seasonal Pet Allergies: The Ultimate Guide to Managing Them
According to a recent study across the United States and Canada, approximately 30-40% of people suffer from allergy conditions worldwide, with the numbers steadily increasing yearly. If you are allergic to dogs you are among millions of others who also do!
What Are Allergies?
Allergies by definition are an extreme response to foreign substances by your immune system that are actually on their own, completely harmless. It is your body’s immune response that triggers the symptoms to develop.
While anyone can develop allergies at any given time, some families or genetics are more prone to them than others. For instance, if your mother suffered from a common pet allergy, you are also more likely to also be allergic to those same allergens.
An allergen can be dedicated at any age, during a process known as sensitization which describes the first time their is an exposure to allergens. The next time this allergen is detected by your immune system, the specific proteins that were created signal your system to respond, causing an allergic reaction.
People with allergies are diagnosed by a physician by performing a series of skin tests from which the test results are produced.
What Causes Allergies?
Allergies are caused by an allergen, which is a protein synthesized by your immune system. “Common sources of allergens include various foods including peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, fruit, fish and shellfish” (The Ohio State University Of Veterinary Medicine).
Dust and mites are another common source of allergens. In the case of pet allergies, the allergens are found in the saliva, urine, feces and skin matter, which may come as a surprise to most people, as it is commonly assumed that animals with fur are the culprits behind producing allergy symptoms.
Pet Allergens are lightweight and quite small, which allows them to stay suspended in the air for a much longer time. They also cling to materials much easier. For example, furniture, clothing, walls and carpet are great collecting grounds for unwanted allergens.
Common Myths About Pet Allergies
My Pet’s Hair Causes My Allergies
Yes. Your pet's fur is not the real reason behind the stuffy nose you are experiencing. Pet allergens are typically found in the urine, feces, skin or saliva, which may come as a shock to some people.
Not All Dogs Produce Allergens
As much as we have heard about the magic of poodles for their “hypoallergenic” qualities, there truly is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog, as all dogs can produce allergens. Some individuals may have lesser symptoms around certain breeds, but no dogs are truly hypoallergenic despite marketing claims and high prices!
The Length Of A Pet’s Hair Doesn’t Affect Their Ability to Produce Allergens
Regardless of whether your cat or dog is short or long hair, there is equal potential for allergens. While a longer haired dog may shed more, causing more allergens to be distributed in the environment, even hairless dogs can create allergens.
Pet Allergy Symptoms
We have all seen or known someone whose eyes began to well up and nose started to sniffle the second they set foot in your pet friendly home. Besides the stereotypical symptoms, being allergic to dogs and cats will cause a menu of distinguishable signs which can be narrowed down by their origin of source: nose, eye, skin and respiratory!
Nose and Eye Symptoms:
- Teary or welling eyes
- Running nose
- Red and itchy eyes
- Itchy nose, throat or roof of mouth
- Rashes or hives
- Dry and itchy skin (not to be confused with atopic dermatitis)
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness
In severe instances, anaphylaxis can occur, which can cause more intense symptoms or even death in some cases. How long do pet allergy symptoms last? Typically if not severe, symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of minutes, to a couple of hours. If the allergy is known, most people will opt for pet allergy medication to ease the side effects!
Treating Pet Allergies
A common question that is asked in regards to this topic is how do you treat pet allergies? Can pet allergies go away? The answers to these questions are quite simple.
When it comes to pet allergy treatment most doctors will prescribe a medication to help manage the symptoms so you can still have and be around your furry friends comfortably. There are also some things you can do to manage the amount of allergens that may be in the environment.
While no cat allergy cure exists as of yet, here are some tips and tricks to ensuring optimal conditions for allergy sufferers!
Bathe Dogs Regularly
Bathing your dogs at least once a week will help cleanse your pet’s fur from allergens, but be sure to use a dog-friendly shampoo that is formulated to be safe for your pets!
Keep Your Pet’s Off The Couch
Oddly enough, couches are one of the most abundant sources of collecting pet allergens so it is recommended to keep your pets away and off of your furniture.
Avoid Certain Areas
For many people, you are least interested in allergy symptoms right before bed, so try to keep your pets out of places where allergens are the least desired, like the bedroom for instance.
Use High Temperatures For Laundry
When washing your sheets, clothing and other materials use higher temperature water for more efficiency in removing additional pet allergens.
If you are the individual with the pet allergy, you may get a free pass on some cleaning around the house. The accumulation of allergens in one place can cause a more severe build up of allergens which in the instance of pets is most likely during use of the vacuum cleaner.
Invest In An Air Cleaner
Air cleaners such as Hepa Air are great ways to maximize your space while ensuring a lowered risk of contaminants in your environment. These air cleaners act filters which will do the best job of filtering out allergens in your space.
Remove Carpet- Where Applicable
The fact stands that pet allergens will stick more easily to furry services so opting for hardwood or solid flooring as opposed to carpet is always a great idea. Obviously, we are not suggesting you switch out all the flooring in your house (unless you want to of course) but it is something to watch for if you are planning on moving or renovating!
So can you live with a dog if you are allergic? Yes! You most certainly can, granted your allergies are not severe or life threatening! Luckily we live in a time where there is cat allergy medicine and pet allergy tests that allow us to be as proactive as possible when it comes to living with pets.
Related Reading: Identifying Food Allergies In Cats
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