Pet Allergy

“My goal in life is to be as good of a person my dog already thinks I am.”

~ Unknown

My family and I had turtles before and now desperately want a dog. But pet allergy is a concern. Yet, we are resolved to join other pet lovers and I am getting ready by researching diligently. A recent article stated that even during this severe economic downturn, most people saw caring for their pets as a top priority, demonstrating great love we have for our animal companions. But the question remains whether we can live with them when we are allergic to them.

Pet allergy is twofold: human’s allergic reaction to pets and animals that have allergies. Since dogs and cats are the most popular and common household pets, the following information will be primarily focused on them.


So let’s begin with allergic reactions we experience with pets and ask, “Why are we allergic to pets?” Well, as any other allergic reactions, some people’s immune system reacts to animal proteins from the animal’s hair, urine, or saliva. The result is common hayfever and asthmatic symptoms.

Signs and symptoms of pet allergy are similar to other types of allergy and asthma described on this website (refer to the corresponding pages). The most common ones being sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, nasal congestion, breathing difficulties, coughing, red itchy skin, and hives.

Conventional and alternative treatments as well as home remedies to alleviate your symptoms from pet allergy would, likewise, be similar to other types of allergy and asthma conditions (refer to the corresponding pages on this site).

Prevention:

  • The best option is to simply avoid any and all contact with animals you are allergic to. That is, either give up your pet or don’t get one in the first place.
  • If you choose to keep your pet, the following tips would be useful starting with getting hypoallergenic breeds that produce low allergen.
  • Bathe and brush your pet often.
  • Keep your pet out of bedrooms or any other room where you spend most of your time throughout the day. If possible, keep your pet outside of the house.
  • Use HEPA filters to reduce allergenic particles.
  • Remove dander-trapping carpets and install tile or wood that can be cleaned thoroughly.
  • Clean and vacuum regularly.
  • Buy washable pet bedding.
  • Wash your hands after playing with the animal.

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When we see adorable, sweet dogs and cats, we just want to hug and love them. I totally understand. So perhaps considering pets that are hypoallergenic (breeds that shed less) might be a viable option. Check out a list of hypoallergenic cats and dogs.

Let’s address the issue of pets that have allergies next. Now, I don’t have a pet yet but I could just imagine how distressing it would be to witness your beloved pet suffer from allergic and/or asthmatic symptoms. Your pet can have one or more of following common allergies: airborne allergies inhaled from mold, dust, smoke, and pollen; food allergies; flea allergy dermatitis from flea-bites; contact allergies from such materials as plastics, carpet fibers, and other things.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Chewing at the feet and rubbing in the face
  • Constant licking of the flank (side) and groin area
  • Inflamed ears or repeated ear infections
  • Recurrent hot spots (aka moist eczema) in dogs and facial scabbing in cats
  • Asthma-like wheezing and respiratory problems (more likely in cats)
  • Red itchy bumps or blisters on the skin

Conventional Treatments:

  • Immunotherapy is the main treatment for dog’s airborne allergy. Once the triggers are identified, the injections are given to desensitize the pet to the offending allergens. This option is often used when other approaches don’t produce the desired result.
  • Corticosteroids can be given orally, with injections or nasal sprays. Some of the prescription steroids for dogs include Flonase or Nasonex sprays. Betamethasone, Dexamethasone, Flumethasone, and Triamcinolon are some of the commonly used corticosteroid injections for dogs.
  • Antihistamines such as Claritin, Benadryl, Zyrtec block the histamines effect in your pet’s body. Different pets determine the dosage and the type of medicine. Like humans, pets likely would experience side effects, such as a dry mouth, drowsiness, and constipation.
  • Use flea treatment products available at pet stores or online.
  • Apply hydrocortisone topically on the feet and between the toes. Sprays are good for the abdomen or other less hairy areas. Keep the pet from licking the treated areas. Hydrocortisone shampoos may also be used.

Natural Treatments/Home Remedies:

  • The best and most effective thing to do is bathe your pet frequently (at least once a week). Use an organic or mild shampoo so the skin doesn’t dry out.
  • For itchy paws, soak your pet’s feet in warm, salty water for about 5 minutes.
  • Hot spots can be treated with witch hazel. Vitamin E, aloe vera, or olive oil may be applied directly to the affected areas.
  • Nonhydrogenated coconut oil is good for relieving itchy skin. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add more later.
  • Give your pet high doses of fish oil. It has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Yucca also has natural anti-inflammatory properties. Yucca Intensive, a liquid medication, is safe for cats and dogs. It may be applied directly to itchy skin or added to the pet’s food.
  • Use antioxidants, such as Quercetin, Bioflavonoids, to minimize the symptoms.
  • Give Allergy Itch Ease, a natural remedy taken orally containing 100% homeopathic ingredients known for their ability to soothe and relieve skin itch and allergies.
  • Boost your pet’s resistance to fleas by adding Brewer’s Yeast tablets to the diet. You can buy them at health food or pet stores.
  • Biotin treats dry, itchy skin. There is no known side effects in supplemental powder form.
  • Contact allergies can be eliminated by limiting an exposure to the offending sources.
  • Add crushed raw garlic to the dog’s diet. The garlic flavor helps repel fleas.

Prevention:

  • Keep pets away while vacuuming.
  • Maintain normal weight because the excess body mass can exacerbate symptoms of asthma.
  • Use humidifier or dehumidifier depending on what triggers the reaction.
  • Keep pets indoors during pollen season and when the lawn is mowed.
  • Check once a month for any presence of fleas on your pet.
  • For cats, use a dust-free kitty litter.
  • If you smoke, consider quitting. Good for both you and your pet.
  • Use a plastic cover over pet’s bed and use hot water to wash bedding for disinfecting purposes.
  • Avoid dusty pet foods.
  • Bathe and groom your pets regularly and properly.
  • If food is a cause, simply avoid the offending foods altogether.


 

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