I’ve just been diagnosed with an animal allergy help!
What does an allergy to animals actually mean?
If you are allergic to an animal it means you are most likely reacting to proteins in their dander (dead skin that is shed), saliva or urine, which is normally harmless for most people.1 These proteins, known as allergens, collect on fur and other surfaces.1 When allergens are inhaled through the nose an overly sensitive immune system releases substances like histamine that can cause your nose to run and itch, eyes to water and sneezing to occur.2 50% of people with an allergy to animals do not notice symptoms immediately. They may not appear until after several days of contact with an animal.
Which animal could be causing my allergies?
Cats and dogs are the most common causes of animal allergies although sensitivities to other animals can occur including:
- Guinea pigs
Cat and dog allergens are everywhere, even in homes of non‐pet owners because they can be carried on people’s clothing.1 Cat allergens are so pervasive they can remain in a home for six months after the animal is removed, and have even been detected in the Antarctic where cats have never roamed.3
How can I manage my animal allergy?
- Do not bring a furred or feathered pet into your home.
- Keep some non‐drowsy antihistamines on hand for fast relief from allergy symptoms like sneezing and itching.
- Find an existing pet a new home if your allergies are severe or you are prepared to relocate your pet.3
If you wish to keep a pet that is causing your allergies:
- Keep them outside, but especially out of the bedroom so your allergies do not interfere with your sleep.
- Have someone without a pet allergy bathe and brush them outside to remove dander. Keep their litter box or cage clean,1 and wear a face mask if you are doing the cleaning.
- Add an air cleaner with a HEPA filter to central heating or air conditioning to remove pet allergens from the air.1
- Encase mattresses and pillows with allergen‐proof covers.
- Remove carpets and replace upholstered furnishings with furniture that can be easily wiped clean. Upholstered furnishings are often reservoirs for pet allergens.4
- Ventilate your home by opening windows and using exhaust fans, which can help increase air exchange and decrease airborne allergens.4