Pet Allergies

What can possibly be worse than being allergic to the furry creatures that you love and care for? Having an allergic reaction is no picnic- some people develop hives, asthma attacks, or swollen eyes. Others who simply have a mild case of pet allergies can get the sniffles or experience itchy eyes. Whatever the reaction may be, it can be controlled over time with the proper medication and exposure. Having pet allergies is a condition that can be treated, but is important to know the source of the flare-ups. Pet dander, not hair, is the cause of most allergic reactions. Saliva and urine can also contribute to these symptoms. The length of your furry friend’s coat has no bearing on whether or not it will cause an allergic reaction, it is the skin cells that cause irritation. And, believe it or not, pets can have allergies too! Although their reactions usually stem from environmental factors or food-related allergies, a veterinarian may suggest treating them with antihistamines or an allergy injection to relieve such symptoms.

The two most common household pets, dogs and cats, are the cause of most animal-related allergies. Cats are actually the main source of irritants, as they are consistently cleaning themselves and thus spreading the allergens (both saliva and dead skin cells) onto their polished fur which sticks to nearly every surface. Birds are also an unusual carrier of allergens- their feathers, dander, and droppings make for a triple threat to allergy sufferers. Small critters, such as hamsters and rabbits, also cause allergic symptoms as well as the larger animals such as horses. Most animals produce dander; there is no such breed that is “hypoallergenic”. Certain animals can produce less dander, but none are dander-free. The most practical approach to living with pet allergies is to treat it through exposure and medication, if need be.

Animals are also prone to allergies, but instead of sneezing or swelling, they often itch. Itching can be caused by other factors, such as fleas, so it is important to rule this possibility out before medicating your pet for allergies. Dogs are susceptible to both environmental and food allergies and it can be characterized by red, irritated skin or excessive itching and licking of paws. They can also develop seasonal allergies, which can look like a canine form of hay fever. Cats suffer from similar symptoms, but can experience asthma and congestion in addition to itching. A veterinarian can diagnose your pet with allergies and can recommend various remedies, depending on whether the allergies are food or environment-related. Most of the medications used to treat allergies in pets are similar to those used for humans. Antihistamines can be a solution for suffering pets, as well as an increase in omega fatty acids. If the allergies are food related, it is obvious that switching to a different type or brand of food can alleviate symptoms.