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It’s estimated that 30 percent of Americans who suffer from allergies are allergic to their household pet, with cat allergies being twice as common as dog allergies. Luckily, pet allergies can usually be easily managed and don’t mean you need to get rid of your beloved furry family member.
Pet allergies occur when individuals have reactions to proteins in a cat or dog’s urine, saliva or dead skin cells. These pet allergens find their way onto the membranes that line a person’s nose and eyes. Pet allergens are everywhere, including on clothing, household furniture, carpet and more. Individuals who suffer from pet allergies may find their allergies are worse around certain breeds.
Symptoms of pet allergies often vary from person to person, reactions may include stuffy nose, cough, itchy eyes, wheezing, shortness of breath and more. Rashes and eczema are also symptoms of pet allergies.
Your allergist may suggest allergy testing if pet allergies are suspected. After your allergist has a better understanding of what is causing your symptoms, he or she can come up with a plan to help you manage your pet allergy symptoms.
A person who suffers from pet allergies may find relief by making lifestyle changes. These include:
• Having pet-free zones (such as bedrooms)
• Removing carpet/upholstered furniture from your home
• Bathing your pet often
In addition to lifestyle changes, your allergist may recommend allergy medication, such as antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids or allergy shots to manage pet allergy symptoms.