Pet Allergies

About 62% of U.S. households have pets, and more than 161 million of these pets are cats and dogs.  Unfortunately, millions of pet owners have an allergy (allergic rhinitis) to their animals.

The proteins found in a pet’s dander, skin flakes, saliva and urine can cause an allergic reaction or aggravate asthma symptoms in some people.  Also, pet hair or fur can collect pollen, mold spores and other outdoor allergens.

Contrary to popular opinion, there are no truly “hypoallergenic breeds” of dogs or cats.  Allergic dander in cats and dogs is not affected by length of hair or fur, nor by the amount of shedding.

Giving up a pet in order to prevent allergy symptoms isn’t always necessary.  An allergist has specialized training and experience to accurately diagnose your symptoms and develop a treatment plan to help you or your child manage allergy symptoms and potentially keep your furry friends.

Pet allergy symptoms appear during or shortly after exposure to the animal.  These symptoms may linger long after the animal is gone.  This is because the dander remains in the air, on furniture or on your clothing.

If you experience the following symptoms after being near a dog or cat, you may have an allergy:

  • Sneezing
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Congestion

Additionally, contact with a pet may trigger skin allergy symptoms including itchy skin or raised red patches (hives).  Pets can also trigger asthma symptoms, causing wheezing, difficulty breathing or chest tightness.

You or your doctor may suspect you have a pet allergy, but allergy testing performed by an allergist is the best method to diagnose exactly what you are allergic to and to develop a personalized plan to manage your symptoms.

The most effective way to manage pet and other allergic rhinitis symptoms is to avoid the allergen(s) causing the symptoms.

Antihistamines and other over-the-counter allergy medications may help relieve symptoms, but they are not ideal as a long-term treatment.

If you have a pet allergy, talk to your allergist about the potential for allergy shots (immunotherapy).  Allergy shots have a proven track record as an effective form of long-term treatment.

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