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What you need to know about animal allergies

Having an animal allergy is very common, particularly in people who suffer from asthma or other allergies. A common misconception is that these allergies occur due to a fur allergy. However, an animal allergy is caused by a reaction to protein in dead skin, saliva and/ or dried urine. Symptoms of having an animal allergy can be similar to hay fever, with such as a runny nose or sneezing. However, some people may experience symptoms closer to asthma, such as difficulty breathing. The most common animal allergy is dog allergies or cat allergies; however, you can be allergic to any furry animal.

What is an animal allergy?

An allergic reaction to a pet usually happens 15 – 30 minutes after the initial exposure to said animal in people with strong animal allergies. However, in some people, you may not experience a reaction until a day or two after contact. If flakes of skin or fur collect on any clothing or furniture an allergic reaction may happen, even if the pet isn’t in the home.

Airbourne particles are small enough to get into the lungs and can cause severe breathing issues in certain cases. People who experience severe symptoms of an animal allergy can experience breathing issues within just 15 minutes of inhaling these particles. It’s also possible to experience a severe rash on the face or neck from being in contact with allergens caused by an animal allergy.

3 in 10 people who suffer from asthma can experience an asthma attack from being in contact with a cat. It’s possible for cat allergies to cause chronic asthma.

Common symptoms of animal allergies include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes
  • Itching
  • Rash
  • Hives

The most common allergies are dog allergies or cat allergies. Having an animal allergy is extremely common, especially in people who suffer with asthma or who have other allergies. Cat allergies are around twice as common as dog allergies. People who experience dog allergies may be more sensitive to specific breeds of dog, but it is possible to be allergic to all dogs. There is no such thing as a breed of dog which is hypoallergenic – if you have dog allergies it means your immune system is sensitive to the proteins found in dead skin, saliva or dried urine which dogs produce.

The RSPCA have a useful resource on how to manage dog allergies on their website.

Your immune systems role is to find bacteria, viruses or any other potentially harmful foreign substances and prevent them from attacking the body. If you suffer from animal allergies, your immune system is overly sensitive. Your immune system is reacting to harmless proteins found in dead skin cells, saliva or urine from animals. This causes an allergic reaction to occur.

Pet hair itself is not an allergen. Having a fur allergy does not exist. Although you experience allergic reactions to animals with fur, it simply means you are allergic to the proteins found in dead skin cells (dander) which is produced by animals. It is not pet fur which causes an allergy. However, pets with longer fur can cause stronger allergic reactions due to the fact that their hair can collect dander, saliva and urine. Pet hair may also carry pollen and dust, which can trigger hay fever or asthma.

How to get rid of allergies to animals

There is no way of how to get rid of allergies to animals permanently, but the good news is there are many methods you can try in order to combat any signs of allergies.

There are a wide range of allergy relief treatments available, such as over the counter antihistamines and decongestants.

Zirtek 10mg Tablets are antihistamine tablets which help to relieve mild to moderate pet allergy symptoms and are non-drowsy. The active ingredient, cetirizine hydrochloride, works by blocking the effects of histamine to relieve allergy symptoms. Antihistamines should be taken an hour before you are going to come into contact with an animal which causes you to experience allergy symptoms.

As well as medicinal treatments, there are other measures you can take to prevent your allergies. If you interact with a pet, wash your hands and change your clothes afterwards. This will prevent any dander from sticking to your skin and entering your lungs or eyes. If you are allergic to your own pet, ensure it is groomed regularly as this may help to reduce dander or any other allergens which could be found in their fur. Vacuum floors and furniture regularly to remove any dead skin or saliva cells which may be on sofas or carpets. Limit or revoke your pets access to rooms such as the bedroom.

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