Help! I'm Allergic to My Pet - Guest Post by Brigitte Evans

Millions of people around the globe are affected by one or more allergies. The UK has a very high prevalence rate of allergic conditions with more than 20% of the population suffering from some allergic condition. That is why there is nothing strange about your pet triggering an allergic reaction. But how can you deal with it? You can’t possibly abandon your furry friend when the allergy is not their fault. First, you need to make sure that your pet is causing the allergic reaction, and figure out what the symptoms are, and how the allergy is diagnosed.

Causes of pet allergy

People with pet allergies usually have very sensitive immune systems which fail to respond to foreign substances, such as bacteria and viruses, leaving them unprotected. That’s why they can react to even the most harmless substances in the pet’s saliva, dander or urine. The allergic reaction can be triggered by substances collected on furniture, clothing, walls, etc. An allergic reaction may happen even in a house that never housed a dog or a cat because people bring in the allergens with them on their clothing, skin, hair...

Know your symptoms

Did you notice anything unusual when you were around your pet? How exactly did you come to the conclusion that you suffer from a pet allergy? To know that for sure, you need to be aware of the most common symptoms of pet allergies:
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Watery, red and itchy eyes
  • Postnasal drip
  • Nasal congestion
  • Swollen skin under the eyes (often blue-coloured)
  • Frequent awakening during the night
  • Facial pain and pressure
If you also have asthma, you could be experiencing:
  • Chest tightness or pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Shortness of breath
  • Audible whistling while exhaling
Some symptoms can also manifest on your skin:
  • Itchiness
  • Eczema
  • Red patches
Visit a doctor

If you are experiencing several of these symptoms and if they persist for one or two weeks, you should visit a doctor to check whether your suspicions about having a pet allergy are true. The doctor will be able to diagnose the allergy based on the symptoms you say you have, blood tests and allergy testing.

Are there treatments?

It is understandable that you love your pet and that you want to keep them, so you must be wondering whether you can undergo some treatments that will help you cope with your allergy. Even though the best treatment is avoiding the animal which is causing the allergic reaction, there are some medications to help you control the symptoms. With that goal, your doctor can prescribe you antihistamines, corticosteroids, decongestants or leukotriene modifiers.

How to live with your pet if you’re allergic?

If you decide to keep your pet, there are some measures you need to take in order to make your allergy more bearable:
  • Keep the pet out of the house, and most importantly out of the bedroom.
  • Introduce air-purifying plants into your home.
  • Invest in the best air purifier for allergies. That will usually be the one with the advanced HEPA filters which can remove allergens from the air and control odour.  
  • Remove carpeting and dander-attracting textiles. If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, you are more exposed to pet dander. Replace it with wood, tile or linoleum and you will get a less allergens-friendly environment. Also, upholstered furniture and heavy drapes tend to collect a lot of dander.
  • Find help for cleaning. Vacuuming and dusting can send even more allergens into the air and you can breathe them in. To avoid that, you should ask a friend for help or hire a cleaning service.
Pets, especially dogs, are good for mental health and evidence even suggests that they can also be good for your cardiovascular system. However, if you are allergic to them, you need to be particularly cautious about keeping them in your home.

Brigitte Evans is a Cosmetic Skin Care Consultant and a writer from Australia, with a sweet tooth for makeup and everything sparkly. When she is not drooling over the next big thing in the beauty industry, she is reading mystery novels and making plans for her next trip. She is a proud aunt of Sophie, age 2 who rounded her Chanel lipstick but loves her anyway. Twitter/Facebook

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