Pet dander is detectable in every home in the United States even if a dog has never set paw into a house or that has been pet free since it was built. This is because pet dander can cling to anything and everything, clothing, luggage, skin, it can even stay airborne for a long time blowing into your house when the windows or doors are open.
Between 37-47% of homes in the United States have a dog.
The Americans affected by pet allergies are between 15-30%.
Pet Allergy Causes
Pet allergies are caused by an allergic reaction to the proteins found in an animal’s skin cells, saliva, or urine. Any animal with fur can cause an allergy, but cats and dogs are by far the most common. Though it is not actually the fur that causes the allergy but the skin dander, or dust that collects on your pet’s fur. The most common cause of a Pet allergy is the skin dander, or dead skin flakes. Different breeds produce different dander so you may find that you are more sensitive to a certain breed than you are to others. Cat allergies are more common, but dog allergies tend to have the worst reactions.
Symptoms can happen even when you are directly exposed to a pet. You could be exposed to pet dander at work, school, daycare, or any other indoor environment simply because pet dander can be carried in by someone else. Symptoms of a pet allergy include, sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, facial swelling and pain, skin rashes, hives, coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, wheezing, watery and itchy eyes. Pet allergies can lead to asthma attacks which could cause difficulty breathing, chest tightness, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Constant exposure can also cause long term sinus infections that don’t ever seem to go away.
The only way to truly get rid of your pet allergy symptoms if you have a pet in your home is to get rid of it. Removing the pet will stop constant exposure. If for some reason you can’t get rid of your pet, limiting exposure may help.
Other lifestyle changes you can make is removing all the carpeting, upholstered furniture, curtains, cloth blinds, or any surface that pet dander can cling to. You will also want to clean constantly. The more you clean the less chance pet dander has to stay in your house.
Use air filtering systems such as a HEPA filter to help clean the air and remove pet dander from the air.
Keep your dog outside, or have pet free areas dedicated to your house. Keeping them out of the bedroom is a good option so pet dander doesn’t find its way onto bedding, or pillows.
Groom your dog appropriately, weekly baths, and brushing daily to keep shedding and pet dander to a minimum.
There are some medications that can help with symptoms. Over the counter nasal sprays can be helpful. Saline rinses on a daily use can also be helpful. Antihistamines, bronchodilators, and decongestants may help alleviate symptoms as well. Allergy shots, immunotherapy, can also help. If you know that you are going to be exposed to a pet, take preventative medicine, this may help stop an allergic reaction from happening.
If you suspect you are allergic, you may want to talk to your doctor. Sometimes people assume they are allergic to their pets, when they actually have allergies to pollen, and mold that their dog is bringing into their house on their fur. A skin or blood test can show if there is a Immunoglobulin E response, indicating that there is a pet allergy. If the tests come back inconclusive your doctor may suggest that you have a period where you live without your pet to see if your symptoms lessen.
If you have a pet allergy you can look into a hypoallergenic breed of dog. The only real way to alleviate symptoms completely is to limit exposure as much as possible. Be careful if you have guests coming to your house who have pets, pet dander can attach to their clothes. Pet allergies can be managed with some over the counter medications, but can cause complications with asthma or chronic sinus infections.
READ MORE: Choosing The Right Dog Breed For You