It may come as a surprise, but some of the most common allergies we have are those to our own beloved pets. Many of us just deal with symptoms like watery eyes, sneezing, and hives, but if allergies start to get severe, they can affect our sleep and quality of life. And in the case of a more severe pet allergy, asthma and more serious problems can result, and they shouldn’t be ignored!
So what do you need to know about pet allergies? Well first, it’s important to note that if you have other allergies such as pollen or dust sensitivities, the likelihood of being allergic to a pet is much greater. Therefore, before deciding to adopt or bring home a furry or feathered friend, it’s important to foster an animal for a while to make sure it’s a good fit.
Most of the time when we are allergic to cats or dogs, we are allergic not so much to their fur but to proteins in their skin cells (dander), saliva, and urine. Since cats are always grooming themselves, their saliva is deposited on their fur, and it makes them very allergenic. They also do a lot of climbing on furniture and rubbing up against walls, so their hair and dander tend to stick to surfaces, making it very difficult to keep under control. Similarly, dogs carry allergenic proteins in their dander and saliva that can be just as problematic. Generally however, dogs are easier to control in terms of their behavior and are also easier to groom and bathe.
Is there a hypoallergenic dog or cat? Unfortunately, this is a common misconception. Every person responds differently to each breed, so you may bring home a supposedly hypoallergenic breed of cat or dog only to find that you still have reactions to them. That being said, some breeds do have lower levels of allergenic proteins in their saliva and may shed less dander and fur, therefore releasing less into your house.
So what do you do if you find yourself sniffling, sneezing, and coughing around Fluffy or Rover but can’t bear to part with them? Here's where to start: