Pet Allergens

Reducing Reactions

Written by Rebecca Burwell
cat playing with disco ballWith more people turning to family pets to create that warm and fuzzy feeling at home, some are finding that they must go to more extensive lengths to introduce a furry friend to their environment due to allergies. Pet allergies affect a large population of people who want pets, but that doesn’t have to stop anyone from adopting!Most household pets have 7-8 specific allergens on their bodies which can be found in fur, dander, saliva, and urine. People who suffer from these allergies have symptoms with varying severity like sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes and skin, runny noses, and in extreme full on skin rashes or swelling.Prescription and over the counter medications are an easy way to stop these symptoms before they start. Many take Zyrtek daily to reduce histamine levels, and are prescribed special eye drops to alleviate red, itchy eyes; however, some with more severe reactions would require hospitalization if untreated contact were to occur. Immunotherapy is another option for pet parents. Immunotherapy is a series of regular allergy shots taken over several years. Others simply build a tolerance to the allergens by exposure over time.Another solution to the allergy problem is to choose a breed which has been developed with hypoallergenic properties. The AKC recommends a fluffy Bichon Frise, rambunctious Schnauzer, or curly haired and intelligent Poodle breeds for those who suffer from animal allergies. The Rex breed of felines is also in this category. Don’t let hairlessness scare you off! This breed includes the Devon Rex, which unlike its almost completely hairless counterpart, the Sphynx Rex, has a layer of very short, very soft, wavy fur. If you go this route, nearly all allergy sufferers report a decreased or vanished need for prescription allergy medications. To be sure, some breeders will even send clippings of fur for a potential pet parent to test for negative reactions.

Other ways to reduce the likelihood of a reaction include HEPA air filters, in-duct filtration, or simply washing your hands after petting your best buddy can limit opportunities for allergens to reach you, even with an indoor pet. Check with your doctor for options. With a little work and planning, those with allergies can still enjoy a furry friend

Interesting tidbit: Malia Obama is allergic to dogs, so they bought a Portuguese Water Dog, a breed touted as hypoallergenic.

Originally published in March 2014 Issue of Houston PetTalk Magazine.

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