Pet Allergy Treatment
Pet allergies can be a significant source of discomfort for those who suffer from them, impacting their quality of life and limiting their ability to enjoy the company of pets. Fortunately, the physicians at Penn Medicine Becker ENT & Allergy in New Jersey and Philadelphia have treatment options available to help manage and alleviate pet allergy symptoms for their patients.
- How the Allergy Testing Process Works
- The Symptoms of Pet Allergies
- Common Causes of Pet Allergies
- Tips for Minimizing Exposure to Pet Allergens
- Medication Treatments to Manage Pet Allergy Symptoms
- Finding an Experienced Doctor to Diagnose and Treat Pet Allergy Conditions
- Non-Medical Alternatives for Controlling Pet Allergy Symptoms
- Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Allergy Treatment
How the Allergy Testing Process Works
To accurately diagnose a pet allergy, an allergy specialist may perform an allergy skin prick test or a blood test. An allergy skin test involves pricking the skin with a small amount of the suspected allergen and observing the reaction. If a raised, red bump (also known as a wheal) appears, it may indicate an allergy. A blood test, on the other hand, measures the level of allergy-related antibodies in the bloodstream. Both tests can help determine if a person has a pet allergy and guide the appropriate treatment plan.
The Symptoms of Pet Allergies
Pet allergy symptoms can manifest in various ways, affecting the eyes, skin, nose, and throat and even causing breathing problems. The following sections will discuss the common symptoms associated with pet allergies.
Symptoms of Pet Allergies in the Eyes
Individuals with pet allergies may experience itchy or watery eyes, redness, and swelling, called allergic conjunctivitis. This can look similar to chronic dry eye or pink eye. An accurate diagnosis is necessary to get the best treatment for the problem.
Symptoms of Pet Allergies on the Skin
Skin allergy symptoms can include itchy skin, red patches, and hives. These symptoms may appear after direct contact with a pet or exposure to pet allergens in the environment.
Symptoms of Pet Allergies in the Nose and Throat
Pet allergy sufferers may experience allergic rhinitis, causing the nose to produce excessive mucus, leading to a runny nose. The mucus drips down the back of the throat, causing irritation and may lead to coughing or frequent clearing of the throat.
Symptoms of Pet Allergies that Affect Breathing
In more severe cases, pet allergies can trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, difficulty breathing, and chest tightness. It’s important that patients who experience symptoms that affect breathing seek help from an allergy specialist to prevent an emergency situation.
Common Causes of Pet Allergies
Allergies in pets are common, affecting millions of people worldwide. Pet allergies are caused by an immune system reaction to proteins found in an animal’s skin cells, urine, saliva, feces, and more.
Allergens Produced by Pet Skin and Saliva
Pet skin and saliva contain proteins that can cause allergic reactions in some individuals. When a pet licks, the saliva dries and is released into the air as an allergen.
Animal dander is not exactly the same as skin, but it is closely related. While dander is primarily composed of skin cells, it can also include other substances, such as saliva and urine, that can contribute to allergies. Dander can become airborne and easily inhaled, triggering allergy symptoms in susceptible individuals. Dander can also be found on surfaces and in fabrics where animals have been present.
Urine and Feces from Pets
Urine and feces from pets, particularly rodents, and birds, can contain allergens that cause allergic reactions. However, they are typically less of a concern than dander, which is the primary allergen associated with pets.
Proteins Found in Pet Hair, Fur, and Feathers
Pet hair, fur, and feathers can also contain allergenic proteins that can trigger an allergic reaction. These allergens can become airborne or attach to surfaces, where they can trigger an allergic reaction when inhaled or touched.
Allergens from Rodents, Birds, and Reptiles
In addition to cats and dogs, allergens from rodents, birds, and reptiles can also cause pet allergies. Allergens may be present in the pet’s skin, saliva, urine, feces, or dander, as well as in their bedding and nesting materials.
Tips for Minimizing Exposure to Pet Allergens
To reduce the impact of pet allergens in your environment, consider implementing the following list of strategies. We will also expand on more non-medical alternatives below.
- When handling or grooming pets, wear protective clothing such as gloves and long sleeves to minimize direct skin contact.
- Frequently clean pet items, such as bedding, toys, and food bowls
- Regularly brush pets outdoors to remove loose hair and dander
- When entering your home, remove shoes and outerwear to minimize the introduction of pet allergens from outside
- Use allergen-reducing products such as shampoos or wipes
If you’re thinking about getting a pet, consider choosing a hypoallergenic breed. Although no pet is completely allergen-free, some breeds produce fewer allergens than others.
Medication Treatments to Manage Pet Allergy Symptoms
There are several medication options available to help manage pet allergy symptoms. These include over-the-counter medications, prescription drugs, immunotherapy, antihistamines, corticosteroids, and antihistamine nasal sprays.
Over-the-Counter Medications for Pet Allergy Symptoms
Over-the-counter medications, such as antihistamines and decongestants, can help relieve symptoms from pet allergens. When a reaction is chronic or severe, it is best to seek the advice of an allergy specialist.
Prescription Drugs to Treat Pet Allergy Symptoms
Prescription drugs, such as leukotriene modifiers (e.g., montelukast), can help manage pet allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation and narrowing of airways. These medications are usually prescribed for individuals with moderate to severe pet allergies or those who do not respond well to over-the-counter medications.
Immunotherapy for Long-Term Management of Pet Allergies
Immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots, is an effective long-term treatment option for pet allergies. It involves receiving regular injections of small doses of the allergen, gradually increasing the amount over time. This process helps the immune system become less sensitive to the allergen, reducing the severity of allergic reactions.
Anti-Histamines and Corticosteroids for Managing Pet Allergy Symptoms
Antihistamines and corticosteroids can help manage pet allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation and itching. These medications may be used in the form of oral tablets, creams, or ointments.
Antihistamine Nasal Sprays to Relieve Pet Allergy Symptoms
Antihistamine nasal sprays can help relieve pet allergy symptoms by reducing inflammation in the nasal passages. These sprays are available over-the-counter or by prescription, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Prescription antihistamines are often stronger than non-prescription medications.
Finding an Experienced Doctor to Diagnose and Treat Pet Allergy Conditions
Penn Medicine Becker ENT & Allergy provides comprehensive allergy care for adults and children. Our board-certified allergy specialists will diagnose, educate, and help their patients manage allergies to pets and other things. Seeking a qualified allergy specialist is central to getting an appropriate, effective treatment plan.
Non-Medical Alternatives for Controlling Pet Allergy Symptoms
In addition to medical treatments, there are several non-medical alternatives for controlling pet allergy symptoms. These include:
Vacuuming Regularly to Reduce Pet Allergens in the Home
Regular vacuuming can help reduce the presence of pet allergens in your home. Make sure to use a vacuum cleaner with a double or micro-filter bag to effectively capture pet allergens. Vacuuming should be done at least once a week, focusing on areas where your pets spend the most time.
Using HEPA Filters to Remove Pet Allergens From the Air
High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can help remove pet allergens from the air in your home. These filters are designed to capture particles as small as pet dander, making them an effective tool for reducing allergen levels. Consider using HEPA filters in air purifiers and HVAC systems for optimal results.
Bathing Pets Regularly to Reduce Dander and Saliva Allergens
Regular bathing of your pets can help reduce the amount of dander and saliva allergens they produce. Make sure to brush your pets outdoors to minimize the spread of allergens inside your home.
Keeping Pets Out of Bedrooms and Other Areas of the Home
To limit your exposure to pet allergens, keep pets out of bedrooms and other areas where you spend a significant amount of time. This can help reduce the concentration of allergens in these spaces, leading to fewer allergy symptoms.
Installing Air Conditioners and Dehumidifiers to Decrease Pet Allergen Levels
Air conditioners and dehumidifiers with high-efficiency filters, such as HEPA filters, can decrease pet allergen levels in your home by reducing humidity and improving air circulation. Lower humidity levels make it more difficult for pet allergens to become airborne, while improved air filtration can help remove allergens from the air.
Washing Bed Linens and Upholstered Furniture Frequently
Washing bed linens and upholstered furniture on a regular basis can help remove pet allergens that may have accumulated. Use hot water and mild detergent to remove allergens from these surfaces effectively.
Replacing Carpeting with Hard-Surface Flooring
Carpeting can trap pet allergens, making it difficult to remove them from your home. Replacing carpeting with hard-surface flooring can help reduce the presence of allergens in your living space. Hard-surface flooring is easier to clean and less likely to retain pet allergens.
Placing Allergy-Proof Mattress Covers on Beds
Allergy-proof mattress and pillow covers can help protect your sleeping area. These covers are designed to prevent allergens from penetrating the mattress, reducing exposure.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Pet Allergy Treatment
In this section, we will address some common questions related to pet allergy treatment to help you better understand the available options and make informed decisions about your care.