Things to Know About Pet Allergies
People love their pets. According to the 2012 U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographics Sourcebook, more than 43 million households own a dog and more than 36 million have a cat. That’s a lot of wagging tails and bellies begging to be scratched.
For those owners, their pets bring a great deal of joy and companionship. They become members of the family and help keep their owners active, less stressed and happy. For people who suffer from pet allergies though, being in one of the 79 million-plus pet households can be a difficult experience.
As we continue to appreciate and enjoy our pets, here are some things to keep in mind when it comes to pet allergies and our friends who suffer from them:
- People allergic to pets aren’t allergic to their hair. It’s their dander (shed dead skin), saliva and urine that causes a reaction. These allergens get in the air from petting and grooming or when they are stirred into the air after being settled. The particles can hang in the air for long periods of time.
- Allergies to pets with fur or feathers are common, especially among people who have other allergies or asthma. From 15 to 30 percent of people with allergies have allergic reactions to cats and dogs.
- It’s rare to have an allergy to a pet that doesn’t have fur, like a fish or reptile.
- Cat allergies are about twice as likely as dog allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. People with dog allergies can be allergic to all dogs or just certain breeds.
- Allergies may not be immediately triggered when in contact with a pet. Sometimes it can take several days for reactions to occur due to allergen levels being low.
- Unfortunately, the best treatment for pet allergies is to avoid contact with our furry friends and their dander. Keeping pets outdoors will help, but doesn’t completely rid your home of pet allergens.
- If you choose to keep a pet after being diagnosed with an allergy, it’s imperative to keep the animal out of the bedroom. This is where you spend anywhere from one-third to one-half of your time. Keep the area clean and free of the pet at all times and be sure to add an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to your home’s air unit.
If you believe you or a family member may be suffering from a pet allergy, speak to your primary care provider about treatment options. Looking for a provider or clinic, use our Find a Doctor search.