Symptoms of Pet Allergy
Though dogs, cats and other animals are an important part of many people’s lives, a significant percentage of people have allergies to these animals. The amount of allergic reaction can vary considerable from minor respiratory issues to significant reactions that can cause a person to be unable to breathe. Understanding pet allergies is important for those who own pets and those who are allergic to pets.
In most cases, people who are allergic to animals are specifically allergic to dander. Dander is simply skin cells that the animal sheds as a normal part of skin growth. This dander is left around a home and can become airborne where it contacts a person’s eyes and enters the nasal passage and mouth when a person breathes. Though most allergies are caused by dander, people can also be allergic to animal saliva and urine. Hair can also be an irritant, though most allergic reactions from hair are due to the presence of dander.
Pet allergens most commonly cause respiratory problems. These include a runny nose, coughing, sneezing and facial and nasal pressure. Coughing due to allergies will often be caused by an itch in the throat. Respiratory problems from allergies can make a person unable to sleep or to sleep fitfully. In either case, a person will not be well-rested causing them to be sluggish during the day and may put them in an irritable mood.
Though less common than respiratory symptoms, many people who are allergic to pets will also have skin reactions. Skin symptoms of pet allergies include red patches, hives, itching and outbreaks of eczema. Minor cases of skin allergies can often be prevented by frequent washing after touching the pet, but some people are so allergic that symptoms happen almost instantly after coming into contact with the pet or pet dander.
Pet Care for Allergies
It is important to keep pets clean to reduce the effect that animals have on those with allergies. Regular bathing can help to reduce the amount of dander present in a home. While cats do not typically enjoy bathing, they can be taught to tolerate receiving a bath. This is particularly true if the process is started when the cat is young. Anti-allergy shampoos are available to make bathing more effective at preventing allergic reactions. Regular brushing of both cats and dogs to remove loose hair can also help to reduce allergens in the home.
Though frequent sweeping, mopping and vacuuming will help to reduce the amount of pet dander and hair in a home, removing all allergens is difficult due to the small size of dander. Dander and other allergens can work into and under carpeting and other fabrics in the home. To remove these allergens, specialized cleaning tools may be needed. Homeowners should also consider the use of commercial home vacuum cleaners for pet allergy reduction. Many companies make cleaning tools and products designed specifically for sanitizing homes of pet odors and removing allergens.