If your nose runs and your eyes water after playing with your household pet, you might have a pet allergy.
A pet allergy can refer to a reaction to proteins found in your pet’s skin, saliva, or urine, or a reaction to contaminants found in their fur.
According to the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA), pet allergies are one of the most common causes of allergic disease, including asthma and hay fever.
Exposure can occur at work, school and other indoor environments, even if no pets are present.
Despite claims otherwise, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic or allergen-free cat or dog. Even hairless cats secrete contaminants that may trigger a pet allergy in some people.
According to the experts at House Call Doctor, while cats and dogs are often the culprits behind a pet allergy, some Australians are allergic to other animals including birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, mice and horses.
Interacting with these animals may result in hay fever-like symptoms.
Signs and symptoms
According to ASCIA, up to 50 per cent of people who are allergic to animals do not get immediate symptoms.
Once symptoms arrive, they may include:
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Coughing and shortness of breath
· Red, itchy and watery eyes
· Skin rashes or hives.
Studies show early childhood exposure to cats and dogs may lower the risk of developing allergic reactions later in life by up to 67 per cent.
While this may not always be an option, other allergy management methods exist.
If parting with your furry friend simply is not possible, some researchers suggest making the bedroom a pet-free zone and reducing the amount of porous surfaces, for example rugs, in your home.
Medical testing and treatment options are available for sufferers of a pet allergy.