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June 14, 2020

Are You Allergic to Your Pet? How to Manage Pet Allergies

manage pet allergies

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, most people were stuck at home or were suddenly working from home, and that meant they had more time to spend with their pets. Unfortunately for some, they started to wonder if they were suffering from pet allergies they weren’t even aware of before.

It is not as if pet allergies didn’t exist before the lockdown. They very much did, but the majority of people did not realize that their occasional sneezing and watery eyes were possible because of their precious babies.

So, what can people do?  You love your pet, yet you’re allergic to your pet.  Do you just suffer?  Over time pet allergies can get worse and cause severe reactions in some people. But worry not, we are going to share some tried and true ways to manage your pet allergies.

 

What is meant by allergy?

It is estimated that 50% of households contain pets such as cats, dogs, rabbits, goats, pigs, and many others. Among these, the most common are cats and dogs. Moreover, allergies to cats and dogs affect up to 20% of the population.

An allergy is a reaction to a substance by the immune system. The immune system is the body’s self-defense mechanism against foreign substances like viruses and bacteria.  Of course, we want the body to protect us from harmful germs and viruses.  However, when our body starts to think that something as harmless as cat dander or dog saliva is a harmful foreign substance, we develop some miserable symptoms.   How does that happen?  There is always a protein or group of proteins that an allergic person’s immune system has decided is now harmful and needs to be expelled from the body.  In other words, from harmless hay fever to life-threatening anaphylactic allergies, there will always be a set of proteins that triggers the reaction.

 

The Substance of Pet Allergies

As mentioned above, the human immune system works to find foreign substances, like viruses and bacteria, and get rid of them. Our immunity protects us from dangerous diseases as well as harmless pet allergies. Research indicates that people contracting pet allergies have an over-sensitive immune system. Their immune system reacts to harmless proteins in the urine, saliva, dead skin cells, and pets’ fur in the same way it reacts to germs and viruses.

Any substance causing an allergic reaction is called an allergen. Pet allergens collect on furniture, carpets, clothing, and even stick to walls and other surfaces.  The proteins that trigger these allergies are very small and they float in the air.  This is why some people who are highly allergic cannot walk into a house if a cat or dog lives there.

 

Common Symptoms of Pet Allergies

We have discussed allergies, and the microscopic particles and proteins causing allergies.  Let’s look at the most common symptoms these pet allergies can trigger:

  • Stuffy nose, drippy nose: sometimes confused with a cold
  • Runny eyes: oftentimes itchy, teary, and red
  • Itchy throat: a typical sign of an allergy which causes the throat to feel scratchy and uncomfortable
  • Nasal congestion: the blockage of the nasal passages due to swelling of membranes lining the inside of the nose
  • Chest tightness: an unpleasant feeling of heaviness and pressure in the chest
  • Skin rashes: skin redness or sores
  • Hives: the appearance of swollen red bumps or areas on the skin
  • Wheezing: to breathe with a whistling or rattling sound in the chest
  • Rhinitis: Inflammation of the mucous membranes of the nose
  • Asthma: difficulty breathing due to narrowing of air passages in the lungs

 

When these pet allergy symptoms become chronic, they can lead to other sensitivities such as problems with fragrances, pollens, and mold.

 

Measures to Control Pet Allergies 

Allergists will tell you the best way to manage pet allergies is to get rid of the pet you are allergic to.  However, if you can’t bear to be separated from your precious pet, here are a few recommendations that can help you relieve the symptoms:

 

  • Keep pets out of your bedroom(s) and restrict them to certain areas of the house. In this way, beds will not become a trap for allergens as it can be quite challenging to clean off mattresses regularly.
  • Limiting pets to a single room may help but will not entirely reduce contamination because allergens remain suspended in the air.
  • Use HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) air cleaners at home as they trap allergens and pollutants in bedrooms and living rooms. Thus, reducing the allergen levels over time.
  • Regularly clean your air ducts and vents
  • Bath your pets often to decrease the allergen count. However, if your pet is especially troublesome in taking a bath, you can use wipes.
  • Immediately wash hands after petting, hugging, kissing, or touching your pets and make sure that you don’t rub your eyes before you wash your hands.
  • Change your clothes after prolonged exposure to your pet.
  • Avoid carpeting as carpets become contaminated easily, or use washable rugs. Bare floors and empty walls are the most secure options.
  • Rodents are high-potent allergens, so they should not be kept as pets in homes of people with other allergies. If you have hamsters or Guinee Pigs, then appoint someone else to clean the cage.
  • Regular use of HEPA vacuum cleaners will help reduce allergen levels.
  • Wash your pet’s bedding regularly.
  • Choose pets that do not have fur or feathers on their bodies, such as fish, snakes, or turtles.
  • Over the counter allergy medication may help temporarily, but they do not treat the root problem.
  • Sinus rinses are a good remedy for clearing the nasal passages.

 

Yikes, those recommendations seem like overkill!

On the one hand, many people may think the above recommendations are overwhelming. On the other hand, while the sure cure to pet allergies is to get rid of your pet and then have the house and air ducts cleaned, most pet owners are too attached to their pets.  So, how do you solve this dilemma?  The optimal solution is to seek out a holistic allergist, preferably one who specializes in Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT).  A holistic allergist who specializes in AAT provides painless allergy testing and treatments that do not involve needles nor drugs nor supplements nor avoidance. Then you can snuggle with your pet without the fear of undue suffering or overwhelming allergy symptoms.

 

 

If you suffer from allergies, and you have been unsuccessful with other allergy treatments or are looking for something different, St. Louis Allergy Relief Center treats allergies holistically without the use of pain or pills.  We specialize in holistic, natural allergy treatments using Advanced Allergy Therapeutics (AAT). We provide you with a detailed treatment plan after completing a comprehensive assessment to determine environmental stressors that may be triggering allergies or allergy-like symptoms. Visit our website https://stlouisallergyrelief.com/ to learn more or call us at 314-384-9304.

We also deliver community workshops as well as a free monthly informational workshop on the first Thursday of every month at 5:45 pm in our Chesterfield office.  Our free monthly workshop provides the public with information on our unique approach to allergy treatments and includes an opportunity to meet with our patients for a question and answer session. If you are interested in attending one of our free monthly workshops, please call our office at 314-384-9304 to reserve your space.  These workshops are currently on hold due to COVID-19 and will resume when it is safe to do so.

 

 

 

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