Are You Allergic to Pets? Watch Out for These Symptoms
Having a pet allergy is a hard reality to face. As an animal lover or a pet owner, you can’t imagine life without a dog or cat by your side. But how could you deny the seemingly never-ending cold symptoms that you have? How can you not suspect a pet allergy when you cough violently every time you give Mr. Floofles a kiss?
Although you think you have a pet allergy, you need to watch out for a few symptoms before concluding that your beloved pet is the cause of your discomfort.
Pet Allergy Symptoms
An allergic reaction is caused by proteins in your dog or cat’s saliva, urine, and dander. When these proteins enter the body, your oversensitive immune system interprets the harmless proteins as a vicious attack. As the immune system fights the “attack,” your body experiences the symptoms of an allergic reaction. These symptoms can include coughing, wheezing, hives, rashes; red, itchy eyes, red skin; runny, itchy, stuffy nose, and sneezing.
While allergy symptoms can be mild for some, it can be completely hellish for others, causing extreme discomfort. There are several solutions that make the reactions go away. You can try over-the-counter allergy medication, such as antihistamines, like Zyrtec and Claritin, or pseudoephedrines, like Allegra-D or Claritin-D. You can also try nasal steroid sprays which relieve asthma symptoms. If you want a long-term solution, you can ask your doctor about allergy shots. Although not always effective and could take some time to take effect, allergy shots can help.
It’s possible that the allergic reaction you’re experiencing is not caused by your pet but rather by the pollen, mold, or other allergens that your pet brings home from the outside world. This is particularly possible for outdoor pets or pets that you often walk. To know for certain whether your pet is the cause of your allergies, get a skin test or a blood test from a doctor. The skin test results take 15 to 20 minutes. The doctor tests you by pricking your skin with a small amount of dog allergen.
If you’re not yet ready to visit your physician, you can also try living without a pet for a few months and see if the symptoms disappear. Note, however, that the dander in your house can linger for a while even after your pet has been away from home.
Other than taking medication, there are a few ways you can curb an allergy flare up. First (and this may be a difficult one) don’t touch, hug, or kiss your pet. Yes, that’s a difficult thing to do, but minimizing your exposure to pets will minimize your risk for an allergy flare-up. Second, clean your house frequently: clean air filters on vents and regularly vacuum rugs and carpet. You can also restrict your pet to certain sections of the house, bathe them frequently, or keep them as an outdoor pet as much as possible.
If you do take medication, make sure to take them before exposure to pets. Taking it before exposure prevents the experience of a reaction, but taking it after the symptoms occur will make it harder to stop the reaction.
Just because you have a pet allergy doesn’t mean you have to live without animals in your home. If you think you’re allergic to cats or dogs, visit your doctor and take the allergy medication you need before exposing yourself to your furry friends.