An animal or pet allergy is a sensitivity or reaction caused by the dander, fur, saliva, or urine of a pet or animal. Allergic reactions may include sneezing, runny nose, or difficulty breathing. Animal allergies may arise after being near any animal, but are most common with cats and dogs.
Animal allergies can be easily prevented by avoiding contact with the animal or pet causing the reaction, however treatments including allergy medications and allergy shots are also available.
Common symptoms of animal allergies are similar to hay fever or asthma and include:
- Runny nose
- Itchy eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Rashes or skin irritation
If your pet allergy symptoms are severe enough that you experience significant difficulty breathing, sleeping, or conducting normal activities call your doctor.
In addition to asking you questions about your symptoms and lifestyle, your provider may use a variety of tools to diagnose and confirm your animal or pet allergy:
- Physical examination of sinus lining, skin
- Skin allergy test – Possible allergen samples are applied to skin and then observed for reaction
- Blood test
While the best treatment for animal allergies is avoiding the animal causing your reaction, sometimes allergens are impossible to ignore. Providers may recommend one of these treatments to manage your symptoms:
Allergy immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is a long-term treatment that reduces your sensitivity to substances that cause allergies. Many people find that their allergies improve so much that they can stop taking their regular allergy medications.
Immunotherapy is less effective in some patients who have asthma because their asthma is not the result of allergies. Even so, about half of patients with asthma have an improvement in their asthma symptoms because of immunotherapy. Although immunotherapy generally is considered safe and effective, you should know that no treatment outcome is guaranteed.
- EpiPen is a pen-sized device that quickly delivers epinephrine, which can help ease serious allergic reactions.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications may also be recommended, including: