Cat and Dog Allergies

Many people suffer from some type of allergy, be it pollen, dust, food borne, etc.  A good percentage of these people also suffer from allergies to dogs and cats.  What exactly is the cause of a pet allergy?  Contrary to popular belief, it is not the hair or the fur that causes the allergic reaction.  It is the proteins in the pet’s dander (dead skin that is shed) or in their saliva or urine. These proteins are the source of the allergens. Pet fur or hair can collect the dander and cause it to be spread around. Also, think of your pet’s fur like a dust mop.  Dust and pollen can cling to it and be brought into the home, spreading additional allergens beyond the dander.

Cat and dog allergens are small and sticky particles that can stay in the air for a long time. All dogs and cats produce these allergens. Many of the particles can be inhaled which causes itching and swelling of the mucous membranes.  The eyes may become red and irritated. In the lungs, the allergens react with antibodies and result in breathing problems such as shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. Hypersensitive people may break out in a rash on their face, neck and arms.

The best treatment is to avoid contact with cats or dogs or their dander. For us pet lovers, this can be devastating. However, some people with allergies can try immunotherapy to alleviate the symptoms. It involves once or twice weekly injections of small amounts of the allergen.  The body then produces antibodies that block the allergic reaction.  It can take several months to become effective and must be continued for several years.

Finally, over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines and decongestants can reduce the allergic symptoms. It is up to you to determine if keeping your pet is not putting an undue burden on your quality of life.


*Photo: Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici &

One Response to Cat and Dog Allergies

  1. Daniel Beaulieu says:

    Daniel Beaulieu…

    Looking forward to reading more. Great blog article.Much thanks again. Really Great….

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