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If your eyes water or you start to sneeze after playing with or just being near a furry animal like a cat or dog, you may have an animal allergy. Animal dander— a combination of skin, fur, and saliva—is extremely tiny and lightweight, so it can stay in the air for hours, which could cause symptoms long after the animal has left the room. And dander can land and stay on furniture, carpets, mattresses, upholstery, or your clothing, so people who have pets can unknowingly carry dander with them everywhere they go, including school or work.
An allergy to furry animals—cats and dogs in particular—is considered to be a risk factor for developing asthma and hay fever.1 Nearly 30% of people with asthma have been found to have had an asthma attack brought on by cats.2
And despite what you may have heard, there are no truly hypoallergenic breeds of dogs or cats.3
Those tiny pieces of animal dander can easily get in your eyes or nose—some pieces are even small enough to breathe into your lungs. People with an allergy to animal dander can react immediately, but sometimes symptoms can be delayed. If you have one or more of these symptoms after being near a furry animal, you may be allergic.
If you have one or more of these symptoms after being near a furry animal, you may be allergic.
Having an animal allergy doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to get rid of your pet to feel better. Because everything you are allergic to can add up, you need to manage exposure to your allergic triggers before you reach your symptom threshold-the point where you start to experience symptoms. Exposure management may bring you below your symptom threshold, so you can keep your dog and experience fewer symptoms. And to do that, be sure to consult with your healthcare professional to get to the bottom of what’s causing your symptoms.
You may be so used to dealing with your runny nose and irritated eyes that you might not consider asking for help. But how do you know if your symptoms are caused by an animal allergy or not? Testing can help your healthcare professional determine what’s behind the endless sneezing and sniffles, so don’t try to manage the problem on your own.
A simple blood test—together with your medical history—can help identify underlying allergen triggers, if you have an allergy. And a blood test can be done even when you are taking antihistamines. Knowing if you’re allergic and what you’re allergic to can help you, or a loved one, avoid or minimize symptoms.