While pets are known to bring joy and companionship to many, for some people they can also create medical distress, such as frequent sneezing, nasal congestion, or watery eyes, which are recognized as possible allergy indicators.
Medical studies have shown that a vast percentage of the world population is allergic to the most common household pets, which are better known as cats and dogs. This can be quite devastating to those animal lovers who depend on their pet, be it for assistance or companionship. Does this mean that these hypersensitive owners have to give up their pet? Quite often prescribing allergy medication may be enough to alleviate the bothersome symptoms and hold on to the pet, but in severe cases physicians may indeed suggest removing the animal from the home. Even so, and despite numerous warnings, an owner may decide to keep the animal anyway, because the benefits of pet companionship outweigh the drawbacks and consequences of the allergies.
Living comfortably with an animal companion, despite allergic reactions, requires a good medical understanding of the effects of allergies and the discipline to obey and adapt to certain lifestyle rules. If your, or a household member’s, allergies are not life-threatening, and just generate slight to moderate discomfort, there are a few actions you can take to help reduce the annoying symptoms, such as creating an allergy-free zone in the home. This could consist of at least one room where pets are not allowed. You can also install several high-efficiency air cleaners, frequently bath and groom your pet, as well as gradually desensitize your, or the allergy-stricken victim’s, immune system through immunotherapy (allergy shots). Furthermore may it be beneficial to remove and avoid dust-and-dander-catching furniture, cloth curtains, drapes and blinds, pillows and carpet flooring. Frequently cleaning throughout the house and washing hands, couch covers, pillows, table cloths, curtains, pet beds, and toys may help remove many of symptom causing allergens as well.
Allergy-affected pet owners who are looking for alternatives, often raise the following question: “Do so-called hypoallergenic cats and dogs exist?” Even though there is no such thing as a truly non-allergenic or hypoallergenic pet, there are certain cat and dog breeds that may produce fewer allergic reactions in people. These may include non-shedding dogs, such as Welsh Terriers, Greyhounds, Goldendoodles, Maltese, or Yorkshire Terriers, whose hair has the same pH as human hair.
Cat allergies in humans is often a reaction to cat glycoprotein Fel d 1, which is produced by the cat’s sebaceous glands, and can mostly be found in the cat’s skin and saliva. Other cat allergens, including albumin, are found in the urine, saliva and blood. So far there is no scientific evidence that hypoallergenic cats exists, although some hairless breeds may cause less medical problems, than the more popular cat variations.
Pet allergies will vary from person to person, and even though dander is most often the cause, some people may react badly to pet hair, and sometimes even animal saliva. Only by trial and error, or medical testing, can an individual find out what triggers their allergy, and if it is a good idea to keep Fluffy or Fi-Fi around.