Allergies to pets

Being allergic to a family or friend’s pet can make you feel miserable! But pet allergies aren’t uncommon, around 1 in 5 people have an allergy to pets.

Did you know the main source of cat allergen is from the glands in their skin? The allergen then sticks to dust particles, dander and cat hair, and spreads throughout your home (allergens can remain on surfaces in your house for up to six months!). For dogs, the main source of allergen is saliva, meaning it can also travel through your home via their dander and fur or other areas that come into contact with their saliva. Other allergens are urine or skin cells, but pet hair itself is not an allergen, hair is just a carrier or distributor of the allergen!

Allergic reactions to pets usually affect the eyes and nose, with sufferers typically complaining of a stuffy nose, or inflamed, itchy eyes. Sometimes people who are highly sensitive will suffer from a skin rash, or from coughing and wheezing if the particles reach the lungs.

Avoiding contact with cats and dogs if you suffer from allergies is the best way to reduce any symptoms, however, if you cannot fully avoid the pet or you have developed the allergies since owning the pet yourself, you can help to reduce contact to allergens in other ways, for example:

  • Don’t allow your pet into your bedroom as this is somewhere you spend a prolonged amount of time in when you sleep.
  • Ensure they don’t sit or climb on furniture like sofas and chairs that you also spend time on.
  • Try air cleaners and purifiers, to help reduce pet allergens in the air.
  • Remove rugs and carpets that will gather dander and fur, or steam clean your carpets regularly.
  • Have your pet washed and groomed weekly to remove dead skin cells, dander and dust.
  • Keep the surfaces in your house clean to avoid the allergens sticking to surfaces and staying there for a long time. You can also wear a mask when you clean and vacuum.

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