Thursday 3rd April
Whilst many of us may love having pets, for some of us contact with animals can lead to unpleasant allergic reactions. According to Allergy UK, pets are the second most common cause of allergy in the home – with 50% of asthmatic children sensitive to cat allergens and 40% to dogs. Rabbits, hamsters and other furry domestic pets can also cause a reaction…
So why are we allergic to pets?
Pet allergens are proteins which when in direct contact with the skin or breathed in can cause the body to produce histamines. This can result in swelling or the upper airways and cause symptoms such as itchy eyes, wheezy breathing or a rash.
It’s important to note that it’s often the flakes from the animal’s skin rather than the fur which cause the reaction – the animal’s saliva or urine can also be a culprit.
What can you do if you develop a pet allergy?
It is often difficult to avoid the allergens that can come from other people's pets or are transported by people who have been in contact with animals, but there are things you can do if you have pets around:
- Where possible restrict pets to outdoors or to limited areas of the house – keeping them out of your bedroom
- Wash cats and dogs (and their bedding and baskets) regularly
- Instead of carpets, have hardwood floors and vacuum regularly
- Wash your hands straight after stroking your pet and try to avoid rubbing your eyes
- Don’t allow pets to lick your hands or face
- Regularly clean the room (including the walls) where your pet sleeps
- Use medications such as a nasal spray or antihistamine tablets (upon advice from your GP)
- Ventilate your rooms well – either by opening windows for at least an hour a day or consider using a good air filter to reduce allergen levels in the air.
What are the causes of pet allergies?
Know the signs of a pet allergy.
Tips on pets and hygiene visit.
How to cope with cat and dog allergies.