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Important information that will help you determine whether or not you can or should have a pet if you suffer from pet allergies.

A new pet has recently entered the household and while things are wonderful with this furry new bundle of joy; it seems that someone is experiencing an uncomfortable reaction to the new member of the family. This could be because of an allergy to pet dander or hair. A pet allergy could be to either cats or dogs, or even any domestic animal that loses hair and danger on a daily basis.

If an allergic reaction is occurring, it doesn’t mean that that new furry member of the family has to go live with an aunt and uncle; it simply means that certain cleaning methods will have to change to prevent an influx of dander and hair.

What is a pet allergic reaction?

In order to determine if there actually is a pet allergy, it is important to understand just what a pet allergy is. Scientists and medical professionals have discovered that it isn’t actually the animal people are allergic to but the hair and dander that comes on their bodies on a daily basis. Similar to a human, pets will lose skin cells and hair as it dies to make room for new strands to push through.

Pet hair and dander can also trap not only saliva and bodily functions but also mold spores and dusts; creating a cesspool of allergens. These allergens enter the air of the home and rest on the surfaces of the home to cause a reaction on the skin of the owner.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction

People who are allergic to pets will show one or more of the following symptoms:

Symptoms that affect a person's eyes: 

  • Itchy
  • Watery
  • Dry 

Symptoms that affect a person's skin: 

  • Itchy skin 
  • Dry skin 
  • Redness 
  • Rashes
  • Hives
  • Redness over the body

Internal symptoms: 

  • A sore throat
  • Dry, scratchy throat
  • Sinus issues – runny or stuffy nose
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

To determine if an allergy to pets truly exists, a visit to a family doctor should occur to request an allergy test. Not only will this set the record straight on just what allergies are present in the body; it will also test the severity of the reaction. An allergy test is administered by a technician who places small square bandages over the body in a central location, such as the chest or back, but under these bandages are known allergens. The bandages will stay in place for a set number of days and once removed, the skin underneath will tell if someone is allergic or not. If there is a hive or welt – allergic; no blemishes minus the residue from the bandage – no allergies.

Treatment in the case of an allergic reaction

Should an allergic reaction occur to the pet(s) in the home or in another person’s residence, administer the proper treatment as soon as possible.

If the allergy is deemed severe, then medical attention may be required but if the reaction is mild to moderate; a simple over the counter antihistamine might be enough to stave off any symptoms. If some or all symptoms occur, over-the-counter medication is recommended used in conjunction with some home remedies to relieve itchy and painful sections of the body:

  • After taking an antihistamine, use a combination of baking soda and water to form a paste which goes over hives or welts for instant itching and redness relief.
  • If there are hives and welts all over the body, use powdered oatmeal in a lukewarm bath to reduce symptoms. Cover hives and welts with a cold compress made at home by wrapping ice cubes (that are placed in a plastic bag to avoid melt) in a clean cloth and holding to the skin in thirty-minute intervals.
  • A cold compress can also be made by dampening clean cloths and placing them in the freezer until frozen.
  • After using a cold compress, cover the areas in calamine lotion or anti-itch cream, such as Benadryl, then leave to dry in the air. Unless there is exposed or open skin, do not cover with a bandage or antibiotic cream.

Prevention of an allergic reaction

If an allergy to pet dander and hair is already confirmed but the household still could benefit from a new furry friend, look at the breeds of dogs and cats that are considered hypoallergenic. These breeds do not shed at all and will help prevent any allergy attacks from occurring.

If a hypoallergenic breed isn’t an option, the basic cleaning and maintenance routines can prevent attacks from happening at the most inopportune times.

  • Change the filters in the central air system and home heating system on a regular basis

Invest in a filter(s) that removes the smallest possible particles from the air to ensure purification.

  • Avoid allowing the animal on the furniture or in the bedroom of the person who suffers from the allergy.
  • Avoid trading bodily fluids with the animal – no kissing or allowing them to lick the person
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often after touching the animal.
  • Bathe the animal at least once a week or take them to a professional groomer to trim hair, nails and clean their fur. They will benefit from this as well by allowing healthy hair to shine and removing dead fur from their bodies.

If an animal is scratching themselves along furniture, it could be because they have a buildup of dead fur and dander that is irritating them so they try to remove it.

  • Remove carpet and rugs where possible or vacuum frequently to remove a buildup of hair and dander
  • Wear protective equipment, such as a mask and gloves, while completing household chores.

Conclusion

Unless the allergy is severe, there is no need to give up having a furry ball of love living in the residence. It simply means that people will have to change their methods of the household in a few different ways to prevent an allergic reaction. Removing the temptation from the bloodstream and airways by removing the amount of pet hair and dander in the home can reduce the likelihood of an attack.

Know how to treat an allergy attack in the case of one occurring and keep an allergic reaction kit on hand. Invest in an air purifier to remove dander from the air and regularly change the filters on your central air system.

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